Choosing a Dental Implant 101: What Every Patients Needs to Know
You lost a tooth. Now what? They stick a post in the spot and slap a tooth on top of it, right? Well, not quite. Let’s talk about the important parts of getting a dental implant that every patient should consider.
“Bad to the Bone”
When you lose a tooth is that all you lose? Sadly the answer is “No”. Once a tooth is removed, the bone around the missing tooth is also damaged and lost. Every time. Big infection present? -lots of bone loss. Hard extraction? –lots of bone loss.
The tooth being present stimulates the jaw and keeps the bone healthy. For every year the tooth is missing an alarming amount of bone resorbs each year.
The only way to find out if there is enough bone for an implant is to have a Conebeam Scan. This is a 3D x-ray that can be taken at most dentist offices. It takes about 5 minutes and gives the dentist exact bone measurements of any spot in your head, telling them if there is enough bone and in the right places.
This step is so important that the American Academy of Dental Radiologists has issued a statement that every patient having an implant should have a 3D x-ray, every time.
“Nerves, arteries, and sinuses, Oh, my!”
What happens when an implant needs to be placed near a vital structure? Well as it turns out, wait for it: They all do! Every implant in the upper jaw is near a sinus or nasal structure. Every implant in the lower jaw is near an artery or nerve. Putting an implant into a nerve causes permanent numbness of that side of the face.
The solution is picking a dentist who has the ability to digitally map all these structures on the 3D x-ray. Then the implant is digitally placed in the x-ray verifying safe placement away from vital structures or other tooth roots. Once the implant is “place digitally), a guide is 3D milled or 3D printed. The guide snaps over the patient's teeth at the time of surgery and guides the implant to the exact safe spot.
“What comes first the Chicken or the Implant?”
This question may be the most important in the end. Do patients want an implant or a tooth? A tooth of course! The implant is just the means to get your tooth back. It's the important foundation your house sits on, but you can’t live in your crawl space. You live in the house supported by it. No one ever sees the actual implant that is buried in the jaw. The goal is to have the perfect tooth that looks good, and functions ideally.
But what if the implant is in the wrong position or angle? Just like building the foundation for your house, if the foundation is put in at an angle or too close to the road, the house later suffers problems or can’t be built at all. An implant will suffer the same fate. Implants that are at the wrong angle don’t last as long, have poor esthetics, or sometimes fail altogether.
Digital planning is the answer. 3D digital photos are made of the patient’s teeth. The perfect size, shape and ideally positioned tooth is first digitally designed. Then that 3D model is combined with the 3D x-ray (or Conebeam Scan) and an implant is digitally placed in the perfect position to support the future tooth.
Finally, we have the perfect implant placement that meets all of our three goals: Solid bone support, a safe distance from vital nerves, arteries, etc, and is the correct position, depth, and angle to support the new tooth.
Implants are designed to become a permanent part of you. The exciting part is now the technology exists to take the guesswork out of the procedure.
Dental Implants in Boise ID
If you are looking to get dental implants, don't hesitate to give our office a call! We are excited to help you.