We live in an age when people have the luxury of being able to research virtually any potential purchase before make it. In many ways, “buyer beware” has been replaced by “buyer be well read.” If you want to, you can spend 5 hours gathering information to aid in your next shoe purchase. You can see the view from your seat before buying a ticket to a basketball game.
If you’re shopping for a new body part, that research tends to take on a whole new level of significance. This is more or less the situation when one considers getting a dental implant. Though many people don’t think of it this way, each of our teeth is an individual body part with specific purpose and functionality. Like many other systems in our bodies, the mouth functions most optimally when each of the individual components are in healthy, working condition.
Dental implants are different from many other body prosthetics, however. For one thing, they are nearly identical from a functional standpoint to the original body part (whether they are visibly identical to the original tooth depends largely on your choice of implant). Unlike many other body prosthetics, implants are not designed to be removed, refit, or replaced. They also differ from procedures like joint replacements in that much of the hardware being installed can be visible to the patient as well as others.
Because so many different factors go into making a good dental implant decision, and due to the somewhat permanent nature of the procedure, researching the various available options is an essential part of the process for any prospective dental implant patient. When exploring one’s tooth replacement options, there are three primary areas of focus to be concerned with.
Obviously the first step is to determine whether you are a good candidate for an implant to begin with. As we’ve just discussed, there are many things to consider about dental implants. Generally speaking, an implant is the best, longest lasting option for replacing a missing tooth. They can also be an excellent alternative to extensive root canal treatment, which is prone to almost inevitable failure. Implants tend to be stronger, more functional, and more hygienic than bridges and partials.
It’s important to ensure that you as the patient have sufficiently healthy gum and bone tissue to support and espouse the implant. Ultimately this is something that your doctor will need to advise you on; more on that in a moment. Thankfully, modern advancements in bone reconstruction and guided bone regeneration have significantly improved the standard of implant care and widened the field of potential implant candidates. With regard to gum tissue, some materials are more conducive to the maintenance of healthy gingiva.
While there are myriad options available when it comes to dental implant material, they basically all fall into one of two categories: metal implants and ceramic implants. Metal and alloys were the only option for the first decade or so following the advent of the modern dental implant before ceramic implants began to slowly make their way on to the scene. While titanium is still the most commonly used implant material, titanium implants do carry a higher risk of a plethora of complications. Metal free implants made from zirconia have been used with increasing frequency over the last two decades, and are now widely considered to be the highest standard in dental implant care. This is due primarily to zirconia’s higher rate of biocompatibility in addition to its being an aesthetically superior material.
Carefully choosing your doctor is the most crucial aspect of making this decision. This is of course because the right doctor will be paramount in helping you to make informed decisions on all of the other pertinent factors. Many general practice family dentists offer dental implants as part of their wide range of offered services. As we have discussed here, however, dental implant surgery and treatment entails an exceptionally high number of critical variables; the management of which requires extensive expertise.
Finding a doctor whose primary area of focus is implantology will give you the best chance of receiving the best advice and treatment with regard to issues of material choice, implant planning, bone augmentation, and more.
Dr. Sammy Noumbissi is one of the country’s foremost experts on pre and post op dental implant care. His office, located in Silver Spring, Maryland, employs the latest techniques and most advanced technology in order to ensure that all of his patients receive the highest standard of care possible. Contact the office today to schedule a free consultation.