Even today, in several parts of the world, when teeth are lost or missing, small removable inserts called dentures are placed in the missing spaces. Dentures are made of an acrylic base with embedded teeth made of acrylic. In some instances, clasps or wires hold on to the existing teeth for stability. Simple and easy, but here is the problem. The denture sits loosely in the mouth, resting on the gums and ridges. They move slightly during speech or during biting or chewing food. Apart from being an inefficient chewing tool, food collects under the denture and hence they need frequent cleaning and washing.
There are thousands of frustrated people trying to make the best out of this situation and mostly failing.
Dentistry today is an advanced science that is a unique combination of skill, artistry and technology. The dental implant has radically changed the way dentistry is practised by providing anchored teeth that look and function like your own.
So what exactly is a dental implant?
It is essentially an artificial root which supports an artificial tooth. The tooth, as we all know, comprises a root and a crown. The root is embedded in the jawbone. The implant, made of titanium, serves as the artificial root and gets attached into the bone in a few months to provide the support for the future fixed tooth.
The concept is ingenious. The technology behind it has advanced tremendously, since 75 years or so, when the first dental implant was successfully placed. Teeth, affected by disease, ageing and accidents, can be lost. The gaps left in dentition cause speech problems, aesthetic issues and eating difficulties. Implants are a long-term fixed solution.
If you need an implant, the dentist first has to perform a background health-check, which is followed by careful treatment planning with casts and x-rays. The procedure is done using local anaesthesia. Once healing and fixation of the implants take place, impressions are made for fixing the teeth over them.
Dental implants provide anchored teeth that look and function like your own.
If you were to call it that — are the time you have to spend at the dentist’s and the costs.
Depending on the location in the jaw where the implant is required, and the availability of the bone, the process could take 3–9 months during which temporary alternatives are provided.
In India, the cost of implants work to about one-fourth of what is charged internationally. Yes it is expensive for the average Indian. Yet, the average Indian is going places today, he is upwardly mobile and he has his sights set on improving his lot and he now chooses fixed teeth over removable dentures even though it costs more.
The costs will long be forgotten once the value of this treatment unfolds over time — the comfort, confidence and the natural feeling.
The fear of pain and the unknown are matters that can be overcome after talking to your dentist. Sedation is also offered for performing the initial surgery. Opting for implants go a long way in providing that long lasting result, to keep you smiling all the way.
Ask your dentist about dental implants today.
(The author is a specialist in implant and cosmetic dentistry and an Associate Fellow of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)