The History of Dental Implants
Oral health and hygiene have markedly improved through discoveries in modern dental medicine. It was around 7,000 years ago that the first dental issues were documented. Thousands of years later, ancient texts describe archaic remedies for toothaches, tooth loss, and other oral health issues. Around the world, the dental profession slowly developed into what is considered the very first medical specialty.
While tooth extraction was the initial step to treating tooth problems, it would be another few hundred years until dental prosthetics became available in the form of gold crowns and bridge formations, instead of removable dentures. In 1937, the first dental implant was fixed into place with a screw, and over the years the technology, materials, techniques and predictability has improved tremendously. We are now able to improve the esthetics, chewing and quality of our patient’s lives without removable prostheses or bridgework that may take away good tooth structure on adjacent teeth.
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What are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is created when a bio-compatible metal screw (most commonly composed of titanium) is anchored into the jawbone, and a replacement tooth is affixed to its surface inside the mouth. The implant screw will act similarly to the root of a tooth, integrating with the surrounding bone over time. An implant can support a single artificial tooth (a crown), a fixed bridge, or an overlying denture. Practitioners and patients alike see dental implants as a superior treatment option in many cases, especially when only a single tooth requires replacement. A fixed dental bridge will also stabilize the area of a missing tooth, but it requires the teeth on either side of the treatment site to be ground down to complete the restoration to be placed.
Immediate Single-Tooth Dental Implants Following Extractions
In many cases, patients undergo dental implant surgery at some point following a tooth extraction. It has been customary for dentists to delay implant placement for approximately 4-6 months following the removal, allowing the socket to heal. Experts who have studied this practice found that under certain circumstances, it is acceptable and advisable to place an implant directly following the extraction. This practice shaves months off the waiting time to have the final restoration(s) placed.
According to an article in the 1997 Journal of Practical Periodontics and Aesthetic Dentistry, the immediate placement of a single tooth following extraction is best suited for teeth lost due to trauma, fracture, root canal failure, and root absorption caused by residual baby teeth.
Why Dental Implants?
The surgical fixation and placement of dental implants is the most advanced therapy presently available for patients seeking to replace lost or missing teeth, and it is the best option available next to natural, healthy teeth. Some patients are born with undersized teeth or vacant areas where the teeth should have grown or have lost teeth due to trauma or disease. Dental implants can complete a full set of teeth, creating a stronger and healthier mouth. The artificial tooth and root structure feel natural in the mouth so patients cannot distinguish between their natural teeth and those surgically placed. Patients can enjoy every type of food and the added bonus of an improved appearance. Properly designed implants can also improve speaking issues related to oral health.
When the root structure of the tooth is not present in the maxilla and mandible (the upper and lower jaw bones), the bones can actually shrink, resulting in a much older appearance. Undergoing an implant procedure will help to maintain the normal anatomy of the area and prevent bone loss. Because the teeth are an important feature to one’s overall aesthetics, their restoration can help people to regain confidence. While dental implants may require routine adjustments over time, they are designed to last a lifetime.
Candidates for Dental Implants
Replacement teeth through dental implants are an excellent permanent solution to severely damaged or missing teeth. Implants are best suited for patients after they have reached their late teen years or early twenties, once the jawbone growth is complete. There should be ample gum tissue to work with, so those with poor quality or insufficient bone are not ideal candidates as the implants must be supported by good quality and ample bone structure.
Many patients who are not great candidates for implants can become great candidates just by doing certain procedures such as bone grafting or performing a sinus lift to create more bone to support the placement of the implant. Issues can also arise when there is not sufficient space between the teeth to accommodate an implant or when important anatomical structures are present at the implant site. Some chronic diseases affect patient candidacy for the procedure.
Ongoing sinus issues, diabetes, and osteoporosis can affect the quality of the maxilla and mandible. Smokers may also be at risk for inferior results. Dr. Lazare knows how important it is to assess each patient’s expected outcome, so he can provide realistic expectations for what dental implants can accomplish for both the health and aesthetics of his patients’ mouths.
Through carefully designed treatment plans and placement selection, implants can be a great way replace failing and missing teeth. Dr. Lazare will evaluate each patient’s health history, take digital impressions of the mouth, and capture dental X-rays. A CAT scan can also be performed to address bone quality and an approach for dental implant placement.
The quality of bone varies throughout the mouth. The front lower jaw contains the densest section of bone, whereas the back segment of the upper jaw is more porous and tends to be softer. Even in patients who may not have enough bone material in certain areas of the jaw, implants may still be an option on a case-by-case basis. Often, after implant placement, new bone may form in areas where it was originally lacking, if the correct graft is chosen and the patient is in good health.
Caring for Dental Implants
Some patients are under the impression that because the biocompatible materials used in dental implants are man-made, that the teeth do not require regular hygiene. On the contrary, good care of the teeth, gums, and mouth, coupled with regular visits to the dentist, helps patients maintain good oral health. Though implants are resistant to cavities and periodontal disease, the teeth are newly susceptible to peri-implantitis, which is inflammation of the tissues that surround the implant. The condition is preventable with good brushing and flossing habits. Some patients may benefit from using an oral irrigator, rubber tip stimulator, or brush flossers rather than tape floss for the best at-home care. When properly cared for, dental implants can last indefinitely.
Many thanks to Dr. Lazare for such beautiful smiles on our wedding day. We are forever grateful.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Implants
Is the procedure painful?
Dr. Lazare works with surgeons who perform the dental implant surgeries under local anesthesia and, for some patients, with the addition of IV sedation. If necessary, general anesthesia may prove to be the better option, depending on a patient’s medical history. Patients may experience some postoperative swelling and residual discomfort, which can be effectively curbed by pain medications.
Why are dental implants a good option for missing teeth?
Dental implants can prevent further loss of bone while restoring a healthy bite and full set of teeth in patients who are lacking one or more of these vital attributes. Dental implants can maintain a healthy and stable mouth, while also improving a person’s looks.
Is the dental implant process time-consuming?
Candidates for implant dentistry, whether approved for immediate placement after extraction or not, should understand that the dental treatment can be a lengthy process. Dr. Lazare is careful to take all the necessary steps to ensure patient health and happiness with the final outcome. Because treatment plans can vary greatly from one patient to the next, the best way to learn more about an individual case is to schedule a consultation with Dr. Lazare at his NYC office.
Dental Implants a reason to smile for healthier, more attractive teeth
American Health & Fitness – Publication
Implant dentistry has laid the foundation for a new level of care and service that accomplishes today what was thought impossible only a few years ago. It is the most advanced therapy available to replace missing teeth.
In, fact, dental implants are becoming more and more popular among all age group because they enable you to regain physical confidence, psychologically enjoy and active lifestyle, improve your smile, help you eat all the foods you love, restore facial structure, and regain a youthful appearance. What are you waiting for?… Read More
About Dr. Lazare — A Reason to Smile Again!
Dr. Lazare is a highly skilled dentist, practicing both general and cosmetic dentistry in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. His practice is dedicated to helping patients look and feel great with the latest procedures and state-of-the-art technology. The doctor participates in continuing education training courses that focus on empirically proven case studies and the latest developments in dentistry.
Call Dr. Lazare’s New York, NY, office at 212-861-2599 or send an email to [email protected] to be one step closer to your ideal smile!