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.