“I’ve been to every dentist in town, and nobody can make me dentures that I can wear.” A bag with 2 sets of dentures was presented. “I want you to make me dentures I can wear.” This is the scenario that I was warned about during my studies. Can I make a better set of dentures, or is this patient stuck with ill fitting dentures forever. What else can we do? I contacted several specialists I knew and thus started my foray into implants. This was early 1990s, and I started studying all I could about implants. Over the years, implant design has changed, and they have become much more successful. The first dental implants were placed in the 1970s, and ever since we have been studying why they work, and why they fail. The success of implants has been very rewarding; however the final chapter has yet to be written.
New information is coming to light every day, and I would like to present some of these innovations in a question and answer format. If you have questions, please present them and I will try to answer. As many questions will be asked on this forum, I may not answer your question directly, but will attempt to cover as many questions as possible with each answer.
I will start with the basic questions and build from there. The first questions will be those that have come to our home website www.mccloydental.com.au over the years. As we seem to get the same questions over again, we decided to produce this informative website. Please read on and enjoy.
What is an implant?
An implant is something placed in the body to replace something lost or damaged. Here we will limit ourselves to dental implants. These implants are generally made of Titanium, or a Titanium alloy. The percentage of titanium needs to be in the high 90% or pure to be effective. The surface of the implant forms a Titanium oxide which the body attaches to. The problem over the years is to find something the body doesn’t reject as foreign, and Titanium seems to fill this criterion well. Other materials have been fused to the implant surface over the years such as Hydroxy Apatite. These were not as successful as straight Titanium. These coatings are generally not used any more, though they are still available around the world.
Different shaped implants have been used, and cylindrical or root form shape are easy to place and give a good result and are the most common form of implant.
The implant needs to be placed within living bone of a moderate thickness. Over a period of several weeks, new bone grows onto the implant surface and integrates the implant to the bone. Roughening the surface of the implant does increase the rate and quality of this attachment and is now the standard.
I don’t have a full denture, can implants still help?
Implants can be used to stabilise full dentures, or replace any missing teeth. Generally fixed Crown and Bridges are placed on implants to restore individual spaces, and can be used to restore the entire dentition. The majority of implants are used to replace individual teeth. Implants may be used in the aesthetic zone to replace missing front teeth, or may be used for better posterior function. Restorations utilising implants can be used in most situations as long as there is healthy bone. Individual treatment plans are like designing houses. What is appropriate for one patient may not be appropriate for someone else. In order to formulate an appropiate treatment plan, we must first diagnose each case. Only when we have looked at the medical history, the dental history and taken appropriate radiographs and models can we analyse what is appropriate for each case. Sometimes alternative treatments are more appropriate. Which ever treatment is appropriate, it is still important to know what options are available, and what complications can occur. We encourage patients not to proceed with treatment until they understand exactly the treatment proposed.