Q. So, what is a dental implant?
A. Dental implants are titanium posts that are similar in shape and act as artificial tooth roots. These are carefully placed in the jawbone and allowed to heal. During the healing, your bone grows up to the implant locking it into place. There are many brands of implants on the market. Balle & Associates scientifically evaluates the research to determine the best implant choice for your long term success and only uses implants that meet these criteria.
Sometimes the crown or teeth are put onto the implants at the time of surgery. Other times, this is not done until after a period of healing and then the crown or teeth are made to fit on top of the implant(s) to replace a missing tooth or teeth with a “brand-new” tooth or teeth.
In some cases you can function on your new teeth immediately and in many other cases, you can be functioning on your “new” tooth in as little as 6 weeks!
Q. What are the benefits of dental implants?
A. They look and feel just like your own teeth. Dental implants restore your confidence to talk, laugh, and chew with comfort and without worries. You can kiss those dentures or partials and gooey adhesive goodbye.
Implants preserve your facial structure. Implants prevent the face from the collapse that occurs under conventional bridges, dentures, and removable partial dentures. In patients who have lost all of their teeth, the lower one-third of the face is dramatically collapses due to these changes if implants have not been used. Implants form a strong bond to the surrounding bone to provide support and anchorage for biting and chewing as well as stimulation for the bone to hold it in place.
Implant-supported crowns and bridges do not require neighboring teeth for support. When teeth are replaced using traditional tooth-supported bridges, the teeth on either side of the missing tooth are ground down so that the bridge can be cemented onto them. This (often times healthy) tooth structure can never be replaced. Removable partial dentures are even worse using destructive clasps which grab a hold of the adjacent teeth. As the partial rocks back and forth, it can loosen the teeth it depends on for anchorage, causing them to be lost. This device was a breakthrough when it was invented over a hundred years ago but now serves as nothing more than a dental extraction device for those who have unfortunately been wearing one.
Implants replace the entire tooth and the missing root so it is a free-standing restoration. This leaves more of your natural teeth untouched and free of a restoration which over time saves your natural teeth. The science shows that the lowest risk to you of losing another tooth is provided if an implant replaces a missing tooth versus any other dental treatment method.
Want to stay out of the nursing home? Get getter health and nutrition because you can eat what you want. Patients are either knowingly or unknowingly unable to eat certain foods, such as fruits and vegetables, which compromises their nutrition. This can be such a gradual process of things being subliminally eliminated from the diet that only after many years does a patient have a “light bulb” go off and realize all of the healthy foods that have disappeared from their diet. With dental implants, it is much easier to bite into and chew your favorite foods and to eat for health. Denture wearers are usually stuck eating sugary high carbohydrate foods just because that is what they can chew. It is no wonder that denture wearers have more general body diseases that are related to these nutritional problems, consume more drugs to control these diseases, and wind up in the nursing home in higher numbers than other members of society due to the long term whole body effects of poor nutrition and increased severity of medical problems. To add injury to unnecessary insult, the care giving staff at many of these facilities does not realize the extent of the issue and has very little empathy because of this ignorance. Finally, for many of these people, their dentures (even if they could wear them) wind up getting lost meaning that the last memories they leave their families is of a favorite grand parent missing their teeth at the end of life.
Easy to clean. An implant supported crown can be cleaned like your other natural teeth, i.e.brushing, waterpik, sonicare, flossing. Cleaning under a bridge, however, requires the use of floss threaders for proper cleaning, while a partial must be taken out several times a day and scrubbed clean. Both of the alternatives typically mean tooth decay starts again leading to more dental drilling, root canals, and tooth loss…a never ending domino effect till all of the teeth are lost.
Enjoy food again. An upper denture covers the palate and effectively divorces you from half of the taste of your food. Over time the plastic also becomes saturated with oral fluids that interfere with the taste of your food. Essentially you are sucking on an old dirty piece of plastic while you eat your food. No wonder patients complain about odd tastes! With implant supported teeth, it is not necessary to cover the roof of the mouth. This frees you to enjoy improved taste of all of your favorite foods.
Q. What if I have already lost all of my teeth and wear dentures?
A. If you are a denture wearer and are having problems keeping your dentures in place or you cannot enjoy your favorite foods, then implants can make a life changing difference for you. Depending on your individual case, anywhere from 3 to 8 implants can be placed in each jaw to anchor new teeth in place. This greatly reduces the bulk of the teeth and can even eliminate the denture completely. No more wobbling or clicking; no more messy pastes and glues. You will be free to enjoy all of your favorite foods with confidence and comfort.
A word of warning to the denture wearer: One of the things that is seldom shared with the denture patient is that there will always come a day when no denture can be satisfactorily made or worn due to the deteriorated condition of the jaw. When that day comes, the only way to get teeth again is with major bone grafting taken from the top of the hip in the hospital. There are roughly a half a dozen surgeons in the U.S. that have a very high success rate with hip grafts to the jaw bone. The best surgeon in the U.S. is located at the University of Detroit and therefore Dr. Balle recommends that his patients requiring this type of graft have the procedure performed. Upon adequate healing, Dr. Balle will then place the dental implants and teeth in Las Vegas.
It is best to avoid ever reaching this point in life by having implants placed well before the day of needing a hip graft arrives.
If you are under the age of 65 and wearing a denture Balle & Associates should perform an immediate implant evaluation because after the age of 65, no insurer or Medicare will cover this medically necessary surgery which then becomes an out of pocket expense for the patient. This alone can cause the cost to get your teeth back to double!
Q. How long do implants last?
A. Published clinical research shows that implant supported restorations have been successful for over 30 years with success rates now reaching over 95%. These cases were carefully followed from the very beginning and are likely to remain successful for the lifetime of these patients.
Dental implants are designed to be permanent but there are many factors that contribute to their longevity. Dr. Balle plans your case based on your age at the time of treatment, family history of longevity, and individual patient needs. In addition, implant technology is constantly changing and improving. Dr Balle is constantly attending international meetings looking for what is going to provide the most predicable result over the course of his patients’ lifetimes.
Home care and regular visits to the dentist or specialist are probably the most critical aspects of making your implants last. Dr. Balle and his expert implant hygienist closely monitor the health of your implants and make personalize the types of care that ensure the long term health of your implants and new teeth.
The things that can affect the long term wear on your implants and teeth are smoking, grinding/clenching of the teeth, or too much pressure on the implants. Careful follow-up and observation are also necessary to minimize these risks to the patient with these issues.
Research shows that the average traditional dental bridge lasts from 7-10 years and that partials and dentures last an average of 5 years. The part the research doesn’t talk about that much is that when these procedures fail they typically cause worsening dental problems and tooth loss.
Q. In what situation then, if any, would a dentist recommend a tooth supported bridge?
A. Until recently, most dentists considered conventional bridges the treatment of choice for replacing missing or lost teeth. While a close majority no longer considers the traditional destructive bridge the ideal tooth replacement, slightly less than half of the profession (tens of thousands of dentists) still do not give implant options as part of their treatment plans. Dr. Balle recommends that you seek a second opinion immediately if dental implants were not discussed as part of your care before proceeding to bridges, dentures, or partial dentures.
Q. Are There Any More Advantages of Dental Implants?
A. Dental implants allow the replacement of missing teeth without destructive grinding on healthy teeth to make bridges. Traditional dental procedures are still indicated today. However, with dental implants, some of those procedures are outdated and contraindicated. Dental professionals advocate the preservation of natural teeth and tooth structure. Dental implants fit into this concept since the need for the removal of healthy tooth structure (enamel) has been eliminated by his method.
Dentists all agree that a tooth begins a downward spiral after being touched by a dental drill for the first time. Dr. Balle has been using implants and helping raise the “standard of care” for tooth replacement for over twelve years.
Dental implants gives three more benefits rarely discussed:
- Dental implants strengthen the whole mouth. By adding a dental implant where a tooth is missing, we are replacing the whole tooth that is missing. This actually increases the life expectancy of surrounding teeth. In ways, the implant is more solid than the tooth it is replacing. Bridges and partial dentures universally weaken the dentition by forcing other teeth to carry the burden of the missing ones. This is akin to removing half of the supports from under a bridge and still expecting it to carry the same rush hour traffic. It isn’t hard to imagine why that won’t work for very long before a catastrophe develops.
- Dental implants save the jaw bone from being lost when a tooth is removed. Without the implant the bone slowly melt away because there are no physical stresses put on the bone to keep it dense and solid.
- Dental implants do not decay. Most reason a crown or a bridge fails is because of decay at the margin where the crown meets the natural tooth. Titanium implants cannot decay.