Today there are many options in dentistry for replacing missing teeth, including dental implants. Individuals who are missing teeth due to severe decay or physical trauma now have options for treatment and no longer have to feel embarrassed about the appearance of their smile. Dental implants, offered at the San Antonio dental practice of Dr. Brian Shaffer, are one example of a viable treatment option for missing teeth. This highly successful procedure can restore the health and appearance of your smile. Contact Alon Dental Care today to learn more.
What Are Dental Implants?
Many people wonder exactly what dental implants are. Well, they are titanium root forms that we place in the jawbone to act just like the root of the tooth. In the 1950’s and ‘60s, stainless steel was used to hold a restoration. The problem was that the body doesn’t like stainless steel as much as it likes titanium. In fact, titanium is the only metal that bone can actually grow onto. It is what we call osseous integration. That big word simply means bone (osseous) grows into (integration) the implant. This is what keeps the implant in the jaw and allows it to function as a replacement for the tooth you lost. The first titanium dental implants were placed in clinical trials in Sweden in the late 1960’s, since then they have become the best option for replacing missing teeth. These days, most of the research used in medicine for replacing joints with artificial joints is based on dental research. Dentistry pioneered modern implants, so to speak.
Dr. Shaffer’s Experience with Dental Implants
While today we can see great success with dental implants, this has not always been the case. In recent years, when implants failed, they were retrieved and sent to various Departments of Biomaterials for study. The knowledge that came from those investigations has helped the implant industry modify materials and techniques to improve implants and has provided us with the excellent longevity that dental implants enjoy today. Dr. Shaffer is able to successfully treat patients with dental implants thanks to his unique training and background in relation to implant placement.
So why does bone grow into the surface? That’s a good question and one we have been working on for years to solve. It has to do with the surface of the implant and charges along that surface that tend to attract bones cells. Surface modifications to attract these cells began at the School of Dentistry in Birmingham, Alabama, where a Dr. Lacefield was investigating the theory of coating the surface of titanium with ions of biologically compatible materials such as calcium, carbon (one of the body’s building blocks), and even metals like gold. Coating the implant in titanium increases the surface area of the implant, and allows for a faster and stronger bond.
How Are Dental Implants Placed?
While that may be more than you wanted to know, you may be interested to know about how these are placed. Although Dr. Shaffer has completed several courses in implant restoration, he refers his patients to an experienced periodontist for placement surgery. After special x-rays and careful analysis of your anatomy, the periodontist will make a small opening in your gums in the space where you are missing your tooth. This hole will be in alignment with the surrounding teeth as well. Then, the titanium “root form” is fit into the small hole, and a healing cap is placed at the level of the gum tissue. This sounds painful, but it is a very simple procedure, and will allow the bone to grow and hold the implant in place. Depending on the tooth being replaced, it generally takes about 1-3 months for the bone to bond to the implant. During this time, a temporary tooth will be put into place.
After the implant has integrated with the bone, the healing cap is removed and an abutment is placed in the root form. This serves to hold the crown in place that will look like the tooth you lost. Dr. Shaffer will take an impression of the abutment, and our lab will make a porcelain crown to fit your implant. Dr. Shaffer will ensure the proper fit of the crown, and cement it on top of the abutment to act as a replacement tooth.
Dental implant placement is a relatively simple procedure that has been performed successfully in dentistry for more than 40 years. Dr. Shaffer insists on using only top-quality dental implants, which have a success rate of more than 95% during 20 years of study.