Esthetic Implants â€“ Not only Bright Smiles, But Also Future Security
Esthetic dental implants have been a part of restorative and cosmetic dental procedures for over 35 years. Through the years, the dental profession has seen incredible progress in all aspects of implants, from placement techniques to implant materials to longevity and esthetic outcome. Originally invented in Sweden, dental implants are made of ultra-strong titanium alloy and look like a large screw.
Dental implants are used to replace a single tooth, several teeth or a whole arch of teeth. Implants not only stabilize the restoration that sits on it, but also stimulates bone growth around the implant. If a tooth is missing, the gums and bone it was attached to are no longer stimulated by the blood supply and activity of that tooth. Therefore, with the tooth gone, the surrounding bone and gums may resorb or melt away. Furthermore, the opposing tooth (on the opposite jaw) no longer has something to bite against, and may grow towards the missing tooth’s space.
Technology Makes it Easier to Get a Smile Makeover
For implant placement, the diagnostic information provided by the two-dimensional x-ray or radiograph used is limited. Critical questions which need to be answered prior to surgery include if there was enough bone level to place an implant, the location an implant could be placed, positions of the sinuses, location of nerves and other important aspects. More recently, the CT or computed tomography scan tremendously improves the diagnostic abilities of the implant dentist by providing more detailed information needed not only during the initial diagnostic phases, but also during the actual surgery.
CT scans assist in lowering risks of irreversible nerve damage and developing predictable success in attaining the best outcome for most situations. This is especially true if there is question if adequate bone is present in a site with a missing tooth or teeth.
Implants are placed during a surgical procedure, directly in the jawbone. The number of implants required depends on each person’s individual situation. The surgical site with the implants are then left (under the gums) to allow the bone to grow around the implant and “osseo-integrate”. Four to six months after the first surgery, the implant is uncovered from under the gums. An “abutment” or implant post is then connected to it, and the gums are given time to heal around this abutment. About a month later, a final tooth restoration is custom-made to fit onto the abutment. This final restoration could be a crown, bridge or denture. Thanks to advances in cosmetic dental technology in materials, the final restorations look more natural.
A second factor in natural-looking restorations has to do with periodontal (gum) esthetics. In the placement of a dental implant, the gums must first be prepared in achieving an optimal normal appearance. When the gums are not esthetically sculpted, it is difficult to attain a natural result. Gum sculpting is a cosmetic dental procedure that maximizes the natural appearance around a restored implant tooth.
Implants can ensure a healthy diet is maintained. Before implants, people with dentures (a full arch of false, removable teeth) or partials (several false, removable teeth) had no options when they were unable to get a firm, strong bite on food. Nutrition and overall health is highly dependent on a person’s ability to chew a variety of foods. A person may shy away from certain foods either because certain teeth are missing, their teeth don’t meet each other (occlude) properly, or there is not enough force due to slippage of a denture. For example, the inability to chew foods with a firmer consistency may lead a person to eat more unhealthy foods like french fries instead of fresh vegetables. It is challenging to eat a balanced diet of only softer foods.
Most Patients are Pain Free Once They’ve Healed From Cosmetic Surgery
There seems to be a common misconception that implants will continually hurt as long as they are in. The fact is that this is not the case if the implant is properly placed and heals correctly. Naturally, there is some discomfort immediately after surgery. However, advancements in medication for dentistry can address the pain. As the site quickly heals, post surgical pain subsides.
How long a implant can last is reliant on many factors. Although no restoration in dentistry is guaranteed to last forever, dental implants could last ten to fifteen years, or more, depending on how well the implant is cared for professionally and at home.
Dental implants may sound too good to be true, but unfortunately not everyone is a good candidate for implants. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, each patient must: (1) Have a comprehensive exam to determine if they are a candidate, (2) Be in good health, (3) Have healthy gums, (4) Have adequate bone structure, (5) Have excellent oral hygiene habits, such as brushing and flossing, (6) Maintain regular dental visits.
We live in such a great era of cosmetic dentistry where people are able to benefit incredibly from technology in implant dentistry. Combining cosmetic dental procedures with implant dentistry allow people to have implants in the most visible area of their smile and have it look natural. Implants offer bone and gum stimulation, and stability to restorations which lets people eat to their heart’s desire. Although there is no exact replacement to a healthy, natural tooth, dental implants that are assisted with the latest in CT scans allow dental professionals to give their patients one more reason to smile.
Dr. Wynn Okuda is an award winning international leader in cosmetic dentistry. He is one of only 280 dentists in the world to be accredited by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Okuda turned the dental profession on it’s head nearly a decade ago , replacing pain, fear, & discomfort with the Dental Day Spa system. His offices for cosmetic, restorative and implant dentistry are located in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Dr. Okuda has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, American Spa, Shape Magazine, Better Homes & Garden, Health & Fitness Sports Magazine, New Woman, and dozens more!
Dr. Okuda is the founder of “Give Back a Smile”, a charitable foundation of the A.A.C.D. which helps survivors of domestic violence throughout the nation to restore their smiles and lives. He has assembled nearly 1,000 cosmetic dentists nationwide to help fight against domestic violence.