Implants / Bone Grafting
Dental implants are rapidly becoming the treatment of choice to replace missing teeth, whether a person has just a single missing tooth, or is missing a whole mouthful of teeth. Although once thought of as exotic or experimental treatment, the predictability, reliability, and hassle-free longevity of dental implants has catapulted them into mainstream dentistry. This is as it should be, because when a clearly superior technique enters the market, and passes the test of time, it should be widely embraced. In the majority of cases, implants are clearly a superior choice.
Although dental implants can be relatively expensive, their cost is very reasonable when considered over the long-term. The longevity of the average dental implant is substantial. All other tooth replacement options have a dismally short time-to-replacement compared to implants. The less expensive a tooth replacement, the sooner it wears out. On average, low quality partial and full dentures last 1 -5 years, high quality partial and full dentures last 5 – 10 years, costly bridges last 10 – 15 years, and implants, at nearly the same cost as bridges, last more than 20 years.
Dental implants are designed to be supportive, stand alone units. In fact, it has been shown that placing dental implants into the jawbone actually preserves the bone in that area of the jaw. The reason for this is that the body is actually fooled into thinking that the implant is a real tooth! Further, even the patients, themselves, eventually come to regard the implant is a real tooth. This is because the brushing, flossing, fit, stability, and sensation of an implant are as close to a real tooth as is currently possible.
Before implants there were few good solutions, to poorly fitting dentures. Due to anatomical reasons, as well as the advanced technology incorporated into the implants themselves, the vast majority of patients with poorly-fitting, standard dentures can have implant-supported dentures. In most cases the patients have adequate bone mass, and it becomes simply a matter of putting the implants in and letting them heal. In the rare instance that a patient is truly lacking in jawbone volume, there are techniques available that can remedy the situation and allow those patients to have implants. Most patients, that have had standard dentures for years are absolutely astounded at the holding power, stability, and chewing power that even just two implants can provide.
Many patients worry that they do not have enough bone for implants. In most cases, however, the amount of natural bone that is present is more than adequate. Many patients have plenty of bone in which to place implants into, without needing any bone augmentation or grafting. For the remaining patients who are only slightly short of having enough bone, the technology of bone grafting was developed. At this point in time, bone grafting has evolved into a very predictable and routine procedure. Frequently, the implants and the bone grafting can be performed simultaneously, at the same surgery, so there is still only one healing phase.
The benefits of dental implants are so numerous that all of them cannot be adequately discussed in this website. The surgeons at A.O.S.D.I. believe strongly in the benefits of dental implants and are very pleased to discuss their advantages, at your office visits. The surgeons know that a well-informed patient is a happier patient, and, therefore, an educated ambassador, for successful, dental implants.
It must be noted that the concept of implants being experimental or exotic is now a myth. Dentists have been placing implants since the 1960’s. Although, the early years of dental implants were not without difficulty, many of those first patients still loved their implants. By the turn of this century, technology changed the shape, surface, size, and theories behind dental implants, making them exceedingly predictable, reliable, and durable.
Nearly as important as their superior lifespan is the beneficial, biological nature of dental implants compared to the other tooth replacement options. With any type of denture or bridge, the surrounding teeth, gums, and jawbone need to shoulder the burden of holding in the tooth replacement. This eventually leads to fatigue, failure, and loss of those supporting teeth and jawbones because they are being asked to carry a heavier load than nature had intended for them. Failure and loss of the supporting teeth means more teeth to replace, at the next replacement phase, which means more financial and emotional cost. Loss of jawbone volume means a worse fit and appearance of the next tooth replacement phase. This “snowball” effect, of progressive tooth and jawbone loss translates into dissatisfaction and a worsening overall dental situation, as the years pass.
The nature of dental implants is quite opposite to the above nature of the traditional forms of tooth replacement. With dental implants, any dependency of the tooth replacement on the nearby teeth and jawbone is adamantly avoided. This is done to halt the continued dilapidation of the overloaded system. As noted earlier, dental implants actually prevent jawbone deterioration and, since they are not usually connected to natural teeth, they cannot cause deterioration of surrounding teeth.
A prevailing myth about implants is that, if there are multiple missing teeth, each one needs replacement by an implant. Although one implant for each missing tooth can be done, that is usually unreasonable, in terms of effort and expense. Depending on the situation, the technique used, and in which jaw the teeth are missing, one implant can be used to replace, retain, and / or support as many as seven missing teeth, with an excellent result. Obviously, individual situations differ, and a consultation with one of our surgeons would help to determine the correct course of action for each individual.
Some patients who are missing all of their teeth feel that if they do not have enough bone for regular dentures to work, then they must not have enough bone for implants. This is yet another large myth; it is simply not true. A major driving force towards the development of modern implants was this exact situation – implants were invented in order to hold in poorly fitting dentures.
For a multitude of reasons, we always prefer to avoid bone grafting, if possible. The best way to accomplish this goal is to place implants into the jaw, as soon as possible, after the teeth are lost. In many cases, the implant can be place the very same day that the tooth is removed. In other cases, we need to wait a few months after the extraction, before the implant can be placed. The reason we want to place the implants as soon as possible is that, immediately after a tooth is removed, the bone in the region of the tooth begins to shrink, over time. There will never be as much bone at a particular site than on the day its tooth was removed. We would much rather place an implant into the patient’s natural jawbone, than allow the extraction site to shrink over a few years, and then require a bone graft, in order to be able to accept an implant. In other cases, we need to wait a few months after the extraction before the implant can be placed.
If the bone at a proposed implant site has been allowed to shrink, however, there are many techniques that can be used to increase the jawbone volume, in order to receive that implant. Similarly, there are a wide variety of grafting materials that can be used. Also, the financial cost of bone grafting is not nearly as high as some people think. As a result, the ned for some bone grafting to the jaws should no longer be considered a mjor obstacle to the placement of dental implants. The surgeons at A.O.S.D.I. are well-versed in the techniques and materials involved with bone grafting. They are happy to discuss the multitude of bone grafting options with their patients who require it. Today, it is very rare that a patient is prohibited from having dental implants, just because of inadequate bone volume in their jaws.
There is always some fear among patients when they consider surgery of any kind, but especially so in the mouth and a good number of patients have heightened anxiety. Although no surgery is fun, dental implant placement is usually very a smooth procedure. Patients who have had a tooth removed, then later had a that same tooth replaced with an implant, universally report that the implant was far easier than the extraction. Although A.O.S.D.I. routinely offers I.V. sedation, to their surgery patients, it is frequently not essential for implant placement.
Our office is conveniently located one block west of Rangeline on 29th Street. We are on the second floor of the Wells Fargo Building next to Oasis Day Spa.
- Address: 2819 E. 29th St. Suite 2 Joplin, MO
- Phone: (417) 623-2000
- Fax: (417) 623-7948
- Hours: Open Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm