Perhaps no single development in dentistry has been more profound than dental implants. A dental implant is an artificial tooth root up on which a tooth restoration is built. Restorations may include crowns, bridges or dentures. They are made from titanium, which is a strong and light weight metal that has been used successfully in dentistry for over 40 years. Dental implants provide the strength and stability necessary to eat without struggling to chew, prevent bone loss and help maintain facial features.
A dental implant is composed of three parts: the titanium implant that fuses with the jawbone; a small metal post or abutment, which fits over the portion of the implant that protrudes above the gum line; and the crown, or restoration, which fits onto the abutment and is created to look like your natural tooth.
In the last two decades, implants have become a popular solution for adult patients of all ages who have lost a tooth or teeth due to gum disease, an injury, tooth decay or some other reason. Today, many practitioners include implants in the services they provide. Some even boast a “one-stop shop” for the entire process from implant placement to restoration. However, it is important to know that not all implants are created equally.
The exact placement of the implant(s), as well as the size, shape and color of the restoration must be carefully determined as part of the patient’s individual esthetic plan. Oral surgeons and periodontists have the ideal expertise necessary to successfully place implants. Many times, surgery to the gum and/or bone is required prior to implant placement. So, the patient is best served by a specialist.
Experienced restorative dentists have the knowledge and skill to develop a comprehensive plan that will guide all aspects of treatment. Some implants may look pretty but not fit properly, eventually resulting in the failure of the implant(s) and/or damage to natural teeth because the patient’s bite is not balanced. Also, the skill of the lab selected to fabricate the crown or restoration and the quality of materials used can vary greatly.
In summary, the expertise of the practitioners who place implants, the skill of the restorative dentist and the quality of the lab making the final restorations can vary widely. It is important for a patient to carefully consider all of these factors when choosing the right team for dental implants.