Dental implants

An update on dental implants

The genesis of modern-day dental implants dates back to 1952 when the late Professor Per-Ingvar Branemark, an orthopaedic doctor, was studying bone healing. To his surprise, the titanium screw he had used to stabilise a fractured bone in a rabbit became fused to it.

The ingenious Branemark termed this biological observation “osseo-integration” and immediately saw application to dentistry where people for centuries were searching for ideal tooth replacements. His first patient in the 1960s was given four lower implants that allowed him to use his denture for four decades subsequently. It was only in 1982, after a professional meeting in Toronto Canada, that the dental profession truly began to embrace the option of using titanium implants to replace missing teeth.

If you have ever wondered what are the steps to having a dental implant, click here to watch a short demonstration video: Implant movie

Risk factors for dental implants

Depending upon what research you read, the reported success of implants lasting 10 years or longer can be as high as 95%

The primary function of a dental implant is to act as a suitable replacement for one or more missing teeth. Some of the most important factors to consider regarding dental implant success include the absence of pain after placement, a lack of mobility, maintenance of bone around the implant site and the absence of infection around an implant termed “peri-implantitis”.

Patient’s with bone disorders such as Pagets disease, fibrous dysplasia or moderate to heavy smokers increase their risk of implant failure. It is best to look at other options if you are suffering with uncontrolled diabetes, severe immune system compromise or if you have had IV injections of bone medications (called “bisphosphonates”). In these cases the risk is often considered unacceptable.

How do you improve implant success?

What did we learn as a dental profession in the last three decades to improve our success in offering you dental implants? Whilst an exhaustive list of factors could be the subject of an entire blog on its own, here is a simplified one:

1) Eliminate all infection – Remove all sources of infection from surrounding teeth and treat active gum disease.

2) Control diabetic patients – Patients need to have excellent diabetic control using a blood test is called a “HbA1c” test.

3) Reduce smoking – Along with uncontrolled diabetes and past periodontal disease, moderate to heavy smokers have a 3 x higher risk of implant failure.

4) Choose the ideal Implant – Choosing the latest generation of implants with the highest long-term success rate.

5) Ideal Implant placement – Correct implant placement techniques in a sterile field with sufficient “motion-free” healing (generally six months).

6) Ideal Crown placement – Prevent overloading of implants and keep the implant surface clean at all times.

7) Implant maintenance – With proper aftercare, dental implants can provide an excellent replacement option for missing or lost teeth.

Why should I replace my missing teeth?

Dental implantYou may at this point be wondering: Why should I even bother replacing your missing teeth with implants? There are many reasons, and here is a short list:

1) Full denture sufferers – Are you unable to wear your full dentures comfortably? Implant-supported dentures can be life changing!

2) Restore your eating ability – Missing back teeth can make chewing your food difficult. Research indicates that people tend to choose non-nutritious food options when they are unable to chew properly.

3) Alleviate jaw & facial pain – Lacking a proper “dental bite” increases your chance of jaw “TMJ” pain and dysfunction. Facial and upper neck pain can also be caused by a lack of proper tooth support.

4) Improve your airway – A narrow, over-closed mouth will impair your ability to breathe properly due to a collapsed airway. Dental implants can make a significant improvement to your breathing.

Looking to the future, there is the potential of implants being superseded by “growing new teeth” using your own stem cells.

From the early 1980s to now, dental implant success has increased rapidly. Depending upon what research you read, the reported success of implants lasting 10 years or longer can be as high as 95% (assuming no changes to a patient’s risk factors & everything to position an implant properly has been followed). This said, as with any medical or dental procedure no treatment is ever 100% successful all of the time. Patients, risk factors and unforeseen circumstances all play a factor in the outcome.

Looking to the future, there is the potential of implants being superseded by “growing new teeth” using your own stem cells. Perhaps, we may also one day, grow genetically modified hybrid teeth too! Whilst this, no doubt, will create both ethical and moral questions that need addressing, it is important that we learn from the past and innovate for the future.

Our lives never came with a 100% guarantee of happiness, love or assurances. True happiness is acknowledging that nobody owes you anything in this life! It is up to you to make the difference. As Masrani, the park owner of Jurassic World tells his fellow workers:

“The key to a happy life is to accept you are never actually in control”

Dr Nader Malik

Dr Nader Malik

Dr Nader Malik is a cosmetic and integrative dentist whose core treatment philosophy is to make a visible difference to the lives of his patients so that they can be inspired to laugh, smile and share the same experience with others! As a whole-body dentist, he focuses on understanding and treating the strong links between the teeth and the rest of the body. He also enjoys working with medical doctors and allied health professionals to ensure the best outcomes for his patients. Dr Malik practises at Our Medical Dental in Penrith, NSW Australia.

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