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Dental Implants are a widely used, permanent replacement for natural teeth. Prior to implants, bridges were considered to be the best tooth replacement based on comfort, function, esthetics and longevity among other things. However bridges are not always possible and not entirely without some drawbacks. For the vast majority of cases, implants have surpassed bridges as a much better long term tooth replacement considering the same parameters as above.  Dental implants are essentially an artificial root made of either titanium or zirconium. On an x ray it often looks like a screw that is placed into the jaw, and once the bone has “fused” to it and becomes very solid, an artificial tooth is attached to it. It can perfectly imitate the structure and appearance of your other teeth.

Alternative materials and designs of dental implants have been around for over one hundred years. However the current explosion of implants has come about since the discovery of titanium and the ability of bone to grown against a titanium surface in the 1950’s. Today there are well over 500 implant companies worldwide with well over ten million dental implants being placed each year. In 2006 statistics ~8 million implants were placed in the United States alone (https://www.aaid.com/about/Press_Room/Dental_Implants_FAQ.html). 

Dentures: Dentures are a non-permanent, yet effective solution to replicate the appearance and function of normal teeth. Dentures need to be removed when we sleep and often times after eating as food often collects underneath. The downside of dentures is that they are typically not as comfortable or functional as natural teeth, hence they limit what you can eat, they can affect your speech and can easily fall out of place.

Dental Bridges: The second option for tooth replacement before implants were created was dental bridges. Dental bridges are still widely used today. They are most effective for patients who are only missing one or two teeth and who have strong and healthy teeth on both sides of the missing tooth. They use your healthy teeth to act as anchors to support  false teeth in the gaps caused by missing teeth. Bridges typically do not last as long as dental implants. Although they can last over 20 years, they may need to be replaced or repaired after only 10 years. Some of the main reasons for their repair and replacement are decay, gum disease and or fracture of the supporting teeth.

What makes Dental Implants a popular choice?

Dental implants are permanent, unlike dentures, and they last longer than dental bridges. Dental implants let a patient experience all of the benefits of natural teeth. You can eat the foods that you enjoy again and will not have to worry about hiding a gap in your smile. Whatever the case of tooth loss, dental implants are the most effective way to regain the use of your full set of teeth.

Types of Dental Implants

When you are looking into getting dental implants, it is important to know the different kinds of implants that are offered. There are three main styles of dental implants. They are named after the specific parts of the jaw bone that they connect to.

Endosteal Implants – These are the most common forms of dental implants. The name “endosteal” refers to a layer of connective membrane that lines the surface of your jaw bone. Endosteal implants are the classic implants that have a screw-like appearance. They are screwed directly into your jaw and your jaw slowly fuses to the implants as the bone heals. An artificial tooth is attached to the ends of these implants after the gums have healed.

Sub-periosteal Implants – This implant is attached under the gum tissue while remaining above the jaw bone. These implants aren’t placed in the bone, rather, they sit on top of the jaw bone. The base of these types of implant is a metal frame that sits on top of your jaw bone. It is attached underneath the jaw bone. This type of implant is not used as frequently as Endosteal Implants, however, it is the best option for patients who have a shallow jaw bone.

Transosteal implant – This form of dental implant is rarely used in modern dental procedures. However, it was widely used in the past. It was first used in 1953, has a lower success rate and there can be more cases of long-term complications. For patients who currently have transosteal implants, it is a good idea to visit your dentist and ensure that the implants are still in good condition. This implant is placed within the jaw bone, rather than on the surface.

Your dentist will help you pick the best type of implant for your mouth and jaw. There are many different ways that these styles of the implant can be altered to suit a patients needs.

Dental Implant Materials – What are implants made of?

The base of dental implants is made of Titanium. Titanium is a material that is accepted by the human body due to its biocompatible properties. The natural bone in your jaw accepts the implant and fuses to it as it heals. This ensures that your tooth is permanently anchored in your jaw. Titanium is the agreed upon substance when it comes to making the majority of dental implants. However, there are certain alterations and alternate materials that can be used when patients have a metal allergy or an aversion to titanium.

If you have sensitivities towards titanium and titanium alloys, there are alternative options for your dental implants. Titanium was the sole metal used in the past and for the past 30 years, it was the only option. However, nowadays you can request other materials.

A bioceramic called Zirconia can be used as a substitute for titanium. Zirconium is processed and heavily treated and is eventually refined into zirconium dioxide. Once it is in this crystallized form, it becomes extremely strong and can be used as a dental implant.

Ceramic and porcelain can be used for the prosthetic tooth. This prosthetic tooth that sits on top of the implant can be made out of a variety of materials. These include:

  • titanium
  • resin
  • a mixture of alloys
  • zirconia
  • porcelain
  • ceramics

Titanium abutments are widely compared with zirconia to determine which is most effective. Both are equally strong and biocompatible. If you are allergic to metals, zirconia might be a good idea. Titanium abutments are often used at the back of the mouth. This is because they have a characteristic silver colour that may contrast with the rest of your teeth. Zirconia is a beige/white colour and blends in with your teeth much more effectively.

Talk with your dentist about which type of implant material is right for you.

Visit VCCID For A Consultation Today

If you would like to learn more about dental implants in Vancouver, contact our office today. Schedule a consultation and get the professional opinion you need to decide if implants are a good option for you.

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