Increasingly, my patients ask about dental implants. They, like many people, have noticed this emerging trend for tooth replacement. When we talk about trends in fashion we think about something that comes and goes based on what is popular. But some trends reflect a directional change. Implants are a trend in that they are changing the way teeth are replaced. In many ways, they are a better alternative to tooth replacement than the traditional methods. They have become the modern alternative for tooth replacement.
Titanium is the metal of choice for medical devices implanted into the human body. Pacemakers, knee replacements, screw, pins, and plates used to hold together broken bones, and a host of other implanted devices are made of medical titanium. Anything implanted in the human body must be biocompatible with it and titanium fits this bill. It is lightweight, strong and will not corrode in the presence of body fluids and tissues.
The first use of titanium for medical surgery was in the 1950’s, but dentists were the first to work with titanium. An innovation of modern dentistry is the use of titanium implants to replace missing teeth. Medically pure titanium posts are gently screwed into the jawbone and through a process called “osseointegration”, the jawbone fuses to the implants. This implant then becomes an anchor upon which prosthetic teeth can be created; essentially serving as a replacement tooth root.
There are three stages to a dental implant. The titanium post surgically planted in the bone is the first stage. Following adequate healing, an extension to the implant called the abutment is connected to the implant and appears just above the gumline. This is the second stage. The third and final stage occurs when the prosthesis (crown, bridge, or denture) is fabricated and connected to the abutment. In these ways your missing teeth can be replaced with new teeth that look and feel almost as good as your original teeth.
It is estimated that 178 million people in the U.S. are missing at least one tooth. The American Academy of Implant Dentistry reports that “more than 30 million Americans are missing all their teeth in one or both jaws.” Increasingly, patients are exploring the option of dental implants. Implants are a trend that’s becoming a staple.
Are you in need of tooth replacement? Would you like to restore the function of your missing teeth? Do you want to enhance your smile? If so, you are certainly not alone. Visit our implants page for more information on this topic, and be sure to check out our Cosmetic Dental Services page for related procedures.