HEALTHY MOUTH TIPS
Tooth Replacement With Dental Implants: What Could Go Wrong?
If you’re looking for a great dental implant dentist in Torrance, CA or surrounding areas, look no further than Dr. Steve S. Kim, a Prosthodontics specialist and graduate of Boston University’s prestigious Goldman School of Dentistry. Dr. Kim specializes in implant dentistry for residents of the South Bay area, including Palos Verdes, Hawthorne, Carson, and nearby areas in Torrance.
Long-term Reliability of Dental Implants
Dental implants provide safe and reliable long-term tooth replacement and have demonstrated their longevity since the 1980s, with most patients surpassing the 10-year mark with no complications. Dental implants have undergone extensive studies as well as critical trials and have proven their efficacy as well as advantages over other tooth replacement options.
Successful Implant Surgery
A dental implant procedure is performed in two stages, as follows:
- First, the dental implant itself, a small titanium post that replaces the root of the missing tooth, is screwed into the jawbone, underneath the gum line. Titanium is a unique material used in many surgical applications because it allows bone tissue to grow onto its surface. This process of living bone tissue fusing with the titanium is known as osseointegration, and this process is the key to a successful implant procedure, providing a solid foundation of long-lasting structural support for the implant.
- Once the implant has successfully fused to the bone and healed completely, an abutment or metal connector is attached to the implant above the gum line, and a crown, usually made from porcelain and designed to resemble your natural tooth, is attached to it. The crown is the part of the implant that is visible.
The success of a dental implant procedure requires careful planning and patience. Dr. Kim will need to take a full set of x-rays as well as a thorough medical history during your initial intake appointment. He will inquire whether you take any prescription or over-the-counter medications and/or supplements, and may advise you to consult your doctor and suspend certain medications, such as blood thinners, in preparation for surgery. Among other things, he will need to assess the condition and quality of your jawbone, establish the location of vital structures such as sinus cavities, nerves, and blood vessels, and determine the number of implants required to restore normal healthy dental function. The next step is to determine the appropriate type of crowns, bridgework, or dentures that will be required to complete the process.
Naturally, as with every surgical procedure, a small percentage of dental implant cases encounter problems. Bone health, volume, and density are key factors to ensuring a successful implant procedure, and these may be affected by a patient’s age, diet, and overall health. Various medical conditions as well as personal habits may have an effect on bone quality and affect the body’s ability to heal optimally from this procedure, by disrupting the process of osseointegration that is crucial to optimal healing. For this reason, individuals who have diabetes, autoimmune diseases, or diseases affecting bone density such as osteoporosis may have a higher risk of complications or implant failure than other patients. Because smoking is known to interfere with optimal healing in the oral cavity, smokers also face an increased risk. Some patients may require a bone graft procedure prior to the insertion of dental implants to improve bone quality in order to support implants.
On rare occasions, an infection or inflammatory condition affecting the implant site may prevent the implant from properly integrating with the bone. The implant may simply fail to fuse with the bone for no apparent medical reason. In most of these unusual cases, letting the socket heal and repeating the procedure ensures success. In some cases, the use of a larger or wider implant may solve the problem.
Preventing Problems Early On
While it may be possible, for cosmetic and social reasons, to place a crown on, or “load” an implant immediately in areas of the mouth that are highly visible, it is not generally advisable to load freshly inserted implants before the underlying gum and bone tissue has had proper time to heal. Nonetheless, a temporary crown may be placed over the implant until the body is ready for a permanent load. This process is called “immediate provisionalization with no loading” and uses a temporary crown that is typically shorter in length than the permanent crown in order to prevent the tooth from touching the corresponding tooth opposite to it in the bite, thus avoiding impact from biting forces. This allows time for the osseointegration process to complete, generally over a period of two to three months, and prevents problems associated with early loading.
Replacing an Arch or Complete Set of Teeth
When multiple implants are used to replace an entire set of teeth, it’s actually more feasible to load those teeth immediately without impacting the implants. This is because the implants in each arch are joined together as a single rigid unit, which immobilizes and stabilizes them, optimizing healing during the osseointegration process. Dr. Kim is well versed in dental implant procedures and has the appropriate training and experience to provide proper care in case of any adverse occurrence with a dental implant procedure. Contact Dr. Kim with any question or concern you may have about dental implants, including any problems you may be experiencing with existing dental implants that are failing.