Fracturing back molars is an experience no one ever wants to have. But when a helicopter crashed during a back country ski trip, supermodel Christie Brinkley soon discovered that she had fractured two molars. Fortunately for Christie, her oral health was restored with two dental implants. As she said during an interview with Dear Doctor magazine, “I am grateful for the dental implant technology that feels and looks so natural.”
While Christie's dental implants replaced back teeth, we routinely use them to replace both back and the more visible front teeth. But best of all, we have demonstrated expertise at making dental implant crowns look real. This is where we meld science and artistry.
What drives the most natural and beautiful result is how the crown (the visible, white portion of a tooth) actually emerges through the gum tissues. We also match the adjacent teeth identically in color, appearance, shape and profile. But we can't take all the credit, as it takes an entire “behind-the-scenes” team to produce dazzling results. Choice of materials, the laboratory technician (the person who actually handcrafts the tooth), the expertise we use in placing a dental implant crown and the total quality of care we provide are the ingredients necessary for success.
Another critical factor required is ensuring there is enough bone volume and gum tissue to support an implant. Both of these must also be in the right position to anchor an implant. However, if you do not have adequate bone volume, you may be a candidate for a minor surgical procedure to increase your bone volume through bone grafting or other regenerative surgical techniques.
To learn more about dental implants, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Matching Teeth & Implants.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment so that we can conduct a thorough examination, listen to your concerns, answer your questions and discuss treatment options. And if you want to read the entire feature article on Christie Brinkley, continue reading “The Secret Behind Christie Brinkley's Supermodel Smile.”
If you are at all uncomfortable at the thought of getting a dental implant, you might be pleasantly surprised to learn the truth about these marvelous state-of-the-art tooth-replacement systems — and the special role of a relatively new device, the mini-implant. So, first, let's go over some basic facts.
What's a dental implant? Basically, it's just a replacement for the root part of the tooth, the part that lies beneath the gum line. It attaches to a crown, which is a replacement for the visible portion of the tooth. But instead of ceramics or metals, implants are made of titanium, which becomes fused to the surrounding bone. When complete, implants are much stronger and longer-lasting than other methods of tooth replacement, like bridgework and dentures.
Implants are presently regarded as the best way to replace missing teeth, with a success rate of over 95%. They also help prevent bone loss in the jaw, a major goal of modern dentistry. Having one put in is an office procedure that's generally accomplished with local anesthesia, and most patients experience only minor discomfort. Standard dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth, or multiple teeth. The mini-implant, which is just a miniature version of the same technology, is now playing an increasing role in many other phases of dentistry.
Why mini-implants? Because in several situations, this smaller and less expensive alternative offers a solution that's just as good — or better — than any other dental treatment. One area where mini-implants excel is in supporting lower jaw overdentures.
Many people find that lower dentures are far more troublesome than upper dentures. The movement of the tongue muscle, and the smaller area of surface contact (compared to the upper denture, which is supported by the palate) often results in a poor, loose fit, which leads to problems when eating or speaking. These problems can be solved by affixing a lower overdenture (an implant-retained denture) with just two mini-implants.
Not only do mini-implants help prevent bone loss, they also give the denture wearer increased stability, comfort, and confidence. And they do so at a price that's more economical than you might think. In some cases, the mini-implants can be placed in a single one-hour office visit, and your own denture can be modified to fit them — so you can go home and eat a steak that night!
Another area where mini-implants are finding increasing use is in orthodontics. Orthodontic appliances (commonly called braces) move teeth by exerting a light force on them, using a wire which is fixed to a solid anchor point. Traditionally, other teeth are used as anchors — but sometimes these teeth move as well! By using immovable mini-implants as the anchor points, the process is greatly simplified. Strategically placed mini-implants called TADS (temporary anchorage devices) can be used to correct both skeletal (jaw) position and dental (tooth) position problems.
Mini-implants may also be used in upper dentures and temporary bridgework.
If you would like more information about mini-implants, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Implant Overdentures for the Lower Jaw,” “The Great Mini-Implant,” and “What are TADS?”
Dental implants are in much demand when it comes to replacing missing teeth. And although they have long-term success rates of well over 95% when properly placed, the dental profession's current rule-of-thumb is to not use them as a treatment option for teenagers because jaw and facial growth are not complete.
As with most things in life, timing can be everything. However, having missing teeth as a teen can contribute to significant loss of self-esteem and psychological issues. All this means is that we must review each patient's needs on a case-by-case basis so that we can determine the optimal time to place implants while maintaining your teen's self-esteem. However, the good news is that there are some temporary tooth replacements available until the timing is right for implants.
Unlike natural teeth, which move and change position along with normal growth and jaw development, implants don't. Because implants replace tooth roots by fusing with the jawbone, their position is fixed. If placed before normal jaw growth and maturity are complete, they appear to sink as the jaws grow and leave them behind!
Given the above details, you can clearly see why it is critical for jaw and facial growth to be complete prior to placing a dental implant. To determine this timeline, we will work with our dental team, which include orthodontists (specialist in the study of the growth, development and moving teeth into the right positions). Working together, we will best be able to assess when the time is right to plan and place dental implants — usually around late teens.
To learn more on this subject, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teenagers & Dental Implants.” You can also contact us today to schedule an appointment for your teenager or to discuss your questions about dental implants or other treatment options.
Most people think of bone as rock-solid, but it's actually a living tissue that's constantly changing. This has significant implications for your oral health, general health, and appearance — if you are one of the 70% of Americans missing at least one tooth.
Throughout the day, your top and bottom teeth make hundreds of fleeting contacts with each other. These small stresses are transmitted though the periodontal ligament (“peri” – around; “odont” – tooth) that supports each tooth in its socket like a hammock. Think of it as a gentle push on the hammock, which causes the tooth to gently bump the underlying bone. The bone then builds up in the spot that's receiving stress to counteract it. This constant remodeling of bone is what allows bone to stay healthy and strong.
When a tooth is lost, the bone does not receive that gentle stress. It reacts by literally melting away. Sometimes this happens fairly quickly — in a matter of months. After the tooth-supporting bone is lost, the jawbone itself begins the same process of deterioration. This could eventually change the shape of the face, as the distance from nose to chin can decrease — even if only a few back teeth are missing. The results aren't pretty. But the good news is, there's a way to prevent all this.
Dental implants, which function as substitute tooth roots, actually save underlying bone when teeth are lost. They do this because they are made of titanium, which fuses to the bone in which it's set, stabilizing it. The implant is topped by a realistic-looking crown, which replaces the part of the missing tooth that was visible in the mouth. Together, they look and function just as your natural tooth did.
If you are missing a lot of teeth, implants can also be used to anchor bridges or even removable dentures while providing that same bone-saving benefit. And when you consider that they are so durable they should never need replacement, implants are a great investment.
You can read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth.”
Anytime you are considering an implant surgery to replace missing teeth, you should take the time to gather the facts so that you have clear understanding of the procedure, your options and any potential risks. You should also feel comfortable with the dental team who is treating you. For these reasons, we created the following comprehensive list of questions so that you can obtain the answers you need to help you feel at ease prior to treatment.
To learn more, read “Dental Implants, Evaluating Your Professional Options For Care.” Or, you can contact us to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.