In recent years, there has been a paradigm shift in how our patient population approaches maintenance of teeth. Previous generations would extract teeth at the first sign of trouble leaving patients with dentures at relatively young ages. With modern advancements in dentistry, wearing dentures is no longer a norm but a rarity. Teeth are now able to be maintained or replaced with great success and predictability reducing the need for dentures. Resorting to dentures is now more of a choice than a norm. Removable appliances like partial or full dentures, although still a feasible option for many patients, bring with them a list of problems from a functional standpoint and can leave patients frustrated from constant discomfort and difficulty chewing or speaking. If possible, most patients elect to replace missing teeth with “permanent” or fixed options which feel and function like natural teeth without the need to remove them during brushing or bedtime. These fixed options for replacing teeth include bridges and dental implants.
Dental implants can be considered true replacements for teeth. They replace the root portion of a missing tooth and can be attached to single crowns, bridges or even dentures. They act as supporting structures for for a variety of appliances and can offer patients years of function. They are placed surgically after extractions and depending on the case, can be placed immediately after extraction or after the extraction site heals. The key to implant placement is adequate jaw bone for supporting the implant and is the first step in evaluating for the possibilty of implant placement. Aside from that, a patient’s health history is also very important because certain factors such as diabetes and smoking can adversely affect the success of dental implants.