Saturday, 28 September 2013
The Advantages of Dental Implants
If you are an adult in your 70s and you have all your own teeth, then you are in the minority. According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons 69% of adults between 35 and 44 have lost at least one permanent tooth due to an accident, gum disease or tooth decay. According to the same research 26% of 74 year-olds have lost all their permanent teeth (source: http://www.aaoms.org/conditions-and-treatments/dental-implants/). It is not to be doubted that the figures are very similar for the UK and other countries in Europe.
Thus, most of us will have to make a decision sooner or later about how we want to replace a missing permanent tooth. The traditional methods were to use a fixed bridge or a removable denture. Neither of these options is ideal. Removable dentures can slip in the mouth and cause clicking sounds. Both can lead to bone damage and gum disease. It is for this reason that fixed bridges and removable dentures need to be replaced every 15 years to prevent damage to the remaining teeth and the gums.
The better option is dental implants. Fixed bridges are anchored on adjacent teeth. Removable dentures sit on the gum line. Dental implants are different they are put in the bone. Through accident scientists in the 1950s discovered that titanium embedded in the bone actually fuses with the bone. This means the bone grows around the titanium and effectively becomes part of the bone. It is for this reason that dental implants use titanium to anchor the tooth in the jawbone. The implant becomes very firmly fixed because of the fusing between the titanium and the bone. This fusing is called “osseointegration”. It is, excuse the pun, at the root of modern dentistry.
Normally a dental implant will last for the life time of a patient. Although implants cost a lot more than bridges and dentures, if you factor in the maintenance of bridges and dentures the price difference becomes considerably less.
Dental implants are now becoming the norm especially for those that can afford them. In the UK dental labs account for 2 billion pounds of the economy. Of that sum half is in the private sector. Even though the NHS doesn’t cover most dental implant lab fees or dental surgery costs people can see the obvious advantages of replacing missing teeth with implants rather than fixed bridges and removable dentures. The video above shows a dental surgeon in India perform implant surgery.