Dental Implants: What You Need to Know

Dental Implants: What You Need to Know

Archaeological history shows that for thousands of years humans have attempted to replace missing teeth with things such as stones and shells, but it wasn’t until 1965 that the modern history of dental implants began. That year an orthopedic surgeon in Sweden inserted the first titanium dental implant in an effort to study how well human bones would fuse with the material—his ultimate goal was to study bone fusion for hip and knee surgery, but determined that the mouth was easier to observe—and when the jawbone fused to the titanium, he coined the term “osseointegration.”

Originally dental implants were used only for patients who were unable to wear dentures because they had lost so much bone they could not support the dentures. They were a kind of one-size-fits-all approach, offered in only one width with differing lengths. With advances in technology, though, they have quickly become the standard of care for many patients who need tooth replacement in Salt Lake City. While implants work better for a single tooth or a couple of teeth rather than a full mouth, a similar process can also be used to create implant-supported dentures or implant-supported bridges for patients who need several teeth replaced.

Here are a few things you should know if you are considering dental implants in Utah.

1. Dental implants are not for everyone

Dental-Implants-Smile-WomanDental implants are a great way to replace a lost tooth or teeth, but they will not work for everyone. The best candidates for dental implants are non-smokers who have a healthy mouth and gums, no periodontal disease, and do not suffer from chronic health conditions. In order to have a successful implant the patient should also have a strong jawbone with sufficient bone density to support the new tooth. Talk to your dentist to discuss whether you are a good candidate for dental implants.

2. Getting implants is a process

Implants are usually placed in a three-step procedure following tooth extraction:

  • Stage 1: Surgically inserting the implant in place of the root, underneath your gum line.
  • Stage 2: Checking that the implant successfully fused with the bone and connecting a post (abutment) that comes through the gums to attach to the new tooth; this occurs about 3 to 6 months after the implant is placed.
  • Stage 3: Fabricating and connecting the new tooth to the abutment; this is usually about 2 to 6 weeks after the abutment is connected.

Some dentists may offer “one-stage surgery,” which is a slightly different method that limits the total number of surgeries you have to undergo. Both have similar success rates, so it’s important to find out which one your dentist offers and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each before the procedure.

3. Not all dentists have experience placing implants

At Roseman University College of Dental Medicine our goal is to have each of our student dentists observe or participate in the placement of several dental implants during their dental school curriculum, but not all general dentists have received training on how to properly to place dental implants. Many dentists choose to go on and study periodontology or oral surgery after graduation, or take continuing education classes and training that provide them with the skills needed to perform this procedure. While all dentists are legally able to provide implants, it’s important to check with your dentist and find out his/her level of experience before you schedule a procedure.

4. Implants are not necessarily a permanent solution

Scientific and surgical advancements have increased the success rate of implants, but they are not necessarily permanent. Like anything surgically implanted in your body, there may come a time when you have to have your dental implants replaced. To increase your chances for a successful implant that lasts for many years, ensure your mouth and gums are healthy when you have the surgery, have the implant placed by a skilled dentist, oral surgeon, or periodontist, and see your dentist regularly for check-ups to keep your mouth healthy after the implant is placed.

Dental implants can improve your smile and your self-esteem while also improving your ability to bite, chew, and speak properly after tooth loss. If you think they might work for you, talk to your dentist or call the Dental Clinic at Roseman University at 801-878-1200 today.

How Gum Disease Bacteria Lowers the Immune System

An infection anywhere in the body can have a major impact on the immune system, lowering a patient’s ability to fight serious diseases. Some infections are worse than others, and gum disease is one of the most troublesome due to the mouth’s importance to the health of the rest of the body. When a dentist is able to treat gum disease, a patient is more likely to have a greater ability to fight infection and improve the immune system.

A Problematic Cycle

Gum disease allows toxic bacteria to have direct access to a patient’s blood stream, as well as to his or her lungs. This constant contact of negative organisms allows the infection to spread easily through the body. Once the infection spreads, the immune system becomes stressed beyond its capacity to function properly. As the immune system weakens, fighting off the original gum infection becomes more difficult, leaving a patient vulnerable to even more diseases, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Cancer
  • Respiratory disease

Advanced cases of gum disease can be difficult to treat, since the immune system is already so weakened that getting rid of the infection is a challenge.

Obtaining Treatment for Gum Disease

Those who suffer from gum disease and have not sought out treatment are not likely to be able to return to full health without the assistance of a dental professional. Leaving gum disease untreated can be destructive to the entire body, but dentists can prescribe powerful infection-fighting medications to help patients get the disease under control, including antibiotics.

Treatment options for gum disease can be either surgical or non-surgical and may include the following, depending upon the severity of the case:

  • Scaling and root planning
  • Removal of plaque and tartar build-up
  • Pocket reduction surgery
  • Bone or soft tissue grafts

Some patients may only need a dental cleaning to heal their gum infection, while others may require more invasive procedures.

Gum disease treatment should begin as soon as possible in order to prevent further damage to the immune system and the overall health of the patient’s body.

When Should Children Start Visiting the Dentist?

Many parents wonder how much attention should be paid to the health of their children’s smiles, especially at early ages when there are no teeth present or when they just have their “baby teeth” that will eventually fall out and be replaced by permanent teeth. The best oral care for children should be started before baby teeth even come in. Starting early and beginning a regular habit of oral hygiene can set children up to have healthier teeth in the long run. As a parent you should bring your children along for visits starting as early as possible. 

Starting Early

While most babies do not begin to get teeth until well into their first year of life, those teeth are still present beneath the gums, and parents can start early to keep their baby’s mouth clean. Running a damp washcloth over a baby’s gums at least once a day can help to wipe away bacteria. Once the teeth begin to come in, parents can use a soft-bristled toothbrush designed for infants along with a small dab of toothpaste to brush the tiny teeth until about age two. Once children are able to spit on their own, they should be able to brush with a pea-sized amount while supervised.

Prevention Begins at Home

While visiting a dentist can help ensure that a small child’s teeth are being cared for properly, parents are the best source of prevention against tooth decay. Practicing good habits and establishing routines that promote healthy teeth can keep children from requiring extensive dental work in the future. When a small child attends an appointment at a dental office, the dentist can help parents identify eating or drinking habits at home that might be causing problems. While it may be more convenient for mom and dad, putting a child to bed with a bottle can lead to decay and other issues and should be avoided. Additionally, the consumption of too much sugar can create cavities, so children should drink water instead of sugary juices, milk, or soda. Both of these problems can be solved at home.

Dental visits should be encouraged for children at an early age to begin the path to good oral health for a lifetime.