The Tooth Implant Process – The Solution for A Problem Mankind’s Been Dealing With For Thousands of Years, The Missing Tooth.
The Tooth Implant Process-Missing Teeth-A Problem For Millennia
A recent discovery in Morocco in a cave known as Grotte des Pigeons, or the cave of the pigeons, was evidence of some of the worst teeth in human history. The cave dwellers who were buried there about 13,000 years B.C. had evidence of cavities bad enough to cause loss of teeth, severe abscesses and most assuredly significant pain. Researchers determined that 94% of the adults had cavities affecting more than half of their remaining teeth. They were ideal candidates for the tooth implant process.
With that type of evidence we can see the loss of teeth has been a problem for very long time. As members of early civilization, each tooth lost made it more and more difficult to eat and to survive the difficulties of life. And today we are facing some of the same problems. But today we have many different solutions to replace missing teeth including dental implants.
The Modern Dental Implant
Modern dental implants are one of the best solutions for missing teeth. Today, the dental implants made of titanium have, by far, the longest successful track record. The discovery of titanium as a good material for dental implants was completely accidental.
In 1952, an orthopedic surgeon was performing experiments on bone healing. He placed small cylinders of titanium into live bone with the hope of being able to recover them later and analyzing the surrounding bone. Months later, when he tried remove the cylinders from the live bone, he found it was almost impossible.
The difficulty he encountered removing the titanium from live bone occurred because bone likes titanium. He discovered a phenomenon called osseo-integration, where the bone virtually fuses with the implant itself, making a rock solid connection . And with that discovery, the field of dental implantology was born.
The Missing Tooth Problem
When a single tooth is lost, dentists and patients can choose to ignore the problem or they can look for a solution together. One of the ways a single missing tooth is replaced is by use of what is called a bridge. One bridge type requires significant grinding or shaping of one or more teeth next to the missing one. And then a replacement for the ground tooth material is glued or cemented in place to the individual or multiple adjacent teeth with an artificial tooth suspended in between.
This solution to the missing tooth problem is called a fixed bridge because it is cemented in place. It is not removed by the patient. It also makes cleaning your involved teeth more difficult. Unfortunately, it makes a single missing tooth problem into a multiple tooth solution.
Another solution for the missing tooth problem is called a removable bridge. This consists of an appliance, that rests on adjacent teeth with an artificial tooth attached to replace the missing one. This appliance is not cemented in place. And you need to remove it for cleaning, and then replace it after every meal.
This solution is often unsatisfactory because it introduces an appliance into your mouth that is much larger than the size of the tooth that needs to be replaced. This extra bulk and the need to grab onto or lean up against adjacent teeth makes it difficult for you to wear comfortably and clean easily.
Tooth Implant Process-The Basics
An implant, that can be looked at as an artificial tooth root, can be placed in the location where your original tooth root existed.
Let’s walk through the tooth implants process that typically occurs when a tooth needs to be removed and it is ultimately replaced with a dental implant.
Cavity Caused Tooth Loss
It is quite common for a tooth to be removed when it is damaged beyond repair due to dental decay, which is an active infection. It is also common for a tooth to require removal when an abscess or deep bone destroying infection around the tooth root exists and when you elect not to have root canal therapy, also known as endodontic treatment. It is often the best root canal alternative.
Gum Disease Caused Tooth Loss
Severe gum disease, another active deep bone destroying infection, may also require that a tooth be removed, if it cannot be resolved any other way. This infection starts initially at the gum level around the root and works it’s way down the root loosening the tooth until its painful for you to chew or speak.
Accident Caused Tooth Loss
Accidents are also often a cause for tooth loss. Whether it is a wrench that slips, or a massive crane hook, severe tooth damage can occur as a result of work related injuries. Even young moms can suffer inadvertent head butts from a cranky child resulting in eventual tooth loss.
Whenever a tooth is lost due to accident or deliberate removal to solve an infection problem, the socket or place where the tooth root used to live needs to go through a period of healing. During this time your body removes any residual infection and begins to grow new bone filling in the hole.
Implant Placement Evaluation
After 3 to 6 months of healing, the location of the former tooth root, is evaluated for suitability for implant placement by using dental x-rays. If enough bone has filled in the socket area and there is enough room to place an implant, the procedure can be scheduled.
At the next appointment, the area that will receive the implant is anesthetized so that it will be comfortable. Keep in mind the implant placement is frequently more comfortable than the original tooth removal.
A suitable implant is selected to replace the missing tooth root an a small opening is made in the gum tissue. A narrow drill is used to make a small hole in the bone about the same depth as the original tooth root.
The narrow hole is made progressively larger in diameter so the implant or artificial tooth root can be introduced into the opening. The implant is then slowly rotated into position advancing like a bolt into a threaded hole.
Once the dental implant is in the proper position in the surrounding bone, a threaded cover screw is placed protecting the hollow threaded implant. The gum tissue opening is closed completely, hiding the implant, using sutures or stitches if required for healing.
Sometimes it is desirable to not cover the implant with gum tissue and a healing abutment is placed and gum tissue is adapted to the abutment with sutures leaving the surface of the healing abutment visible like a shiny metallic button on the gum.
Healing and the osseo-integration phenomenon now takes place where the bone grows toward the implant adapting to it and making a solid reliable connection. When an implant is successfully integrated, it will be virtually impossible to remove, similar to the discover made by the orthopedic surgeon in 1952.
Implant Crown Restoration
Once your doctor verifies successful integration the next step in the process can begin. A 3-D model of where in your mouth the implant is located, in relation to the surrounding teeth and the biting partner for the implant tooth is made.
The model is sent to a dental laboratory to fabricate a connector called an abutment that is screwed to the implant itself and a restoration specified by your dentist. In a simple single tooth replacement situation the final restoration is a dental crown or cap attached to the abutment, replacing the missing tooth. The fit is carefully evaluated and adjustments made if needed.
Now you are able to fully appreciate you and your dentists efforts and have a solid new tooth replacement to smile with and use for chewing.
A Skilled Surgeon-Implant Placement
In some locations within your mouth, if a tooth is lost, it is completely impossible to replace the missing tooth with an implant. Often there isn’t enough remaining bone available after severe accidents, or where longstanding infection prior to tooth loss has destroyed excessive bone. Even adding bone in this situation maybe impossible.
In other circumstances it is possible to add artificial bone, or sterilized donor bone to build up enough bone volume to successfully place an implant.
A Skilled Restorative Dentist-Crown Restoration
A single implant placed in a highly cosmetic area of your smile requires both a skilled surgeon for the implant placement and skilled restorative dentist building a new crown on the implant foundation. The goal is to give you the best smile result and chewing function result possible.
The skilled restorative dentist working closely with a quality dental laboratory can assure you an acceptable.
Same Day Tooth Replacement
In certain situations a time compression of tooth removal and implant placement can be accomplished. The instant tooth replacement gives the appearance of a natural tooth while the implant is healing or going through the process of osseo-integration, becoming fully fused with the surrounding bone. It comes with a few extra risks so ask your dentist if it is an appropriate procedure for your situation.
What Does A Dental Implant Cost?
The obvious answer is, you guessed it, it depends. It can vary considerably based on the difficulty involved, the skill of the surgeon and the geographic location where the procedure is completed.
The cost of a single tooth implant placement can range between $1800 and $2500 depending on the type of implant and whether bone grafting is required. Special circumstances can greatly increase the cost of bone grafting and consequently, the cost of implant placement. Once the implant or artificial tooth is successfully placed the second phase can begin.
An Implant Usually Requires A Crown To Restore Fully
The fabrication of a suitable crown restoration, that is attached to the implant foundation, can vary in cost from $1000 to $3000 depending on materials selected and the means of attaching the crown. Some crowns may be cemented to the implant foundation and others will required a hidden threaded screw attachment.
Discount implants and crowns are manufactured and sold throughout the world. Using these vendors may allow some dentists to drastically reduce costs. Keep this in mind when selecting your dentist for dental implant and crown placement.
Be Wary Of Dental Tourism
I have seen the results of dental vacations to foreign countries for the purpose of saving on the expense of implant placements and crown restorations. One client returned to Costa Rica several times with each correction effort worse than the original problem created. She finally relented and sought reparative treatment in the U.S. acknowledging she had spent much more than the original savings she hoped to gain.
When difficulties arise, which is a possibility, it is always more difficult to attempt to correct the problem by returning to a foreign country for multiple visits no matter how beautiful the location.
What Is Your Next Step?
Discuss the tooth implant process with your holistic dentist. You can find one at iaomt.org where he can advise you of your material choices for a successful longterm result. He can advise you on the whole process or help you with the selection of a qualified surgeon and restorative dentist if he feels it is in your best interest.