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The What and Why of Dental Implants

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We are most fortunate to live in a time that when our natural parts wear out, medical science has created replacement parts that function exactly like our natural parts. Knee, shoulder and hip replacement are among the most common surgeries in elderly people. Teeth are no different. Humans lose their teeth for a variety of reasons. 

Among them are periodontal bone loss due to lack of brushing and flossing or a lack of natural defenses to fight the bacteria causing bone loss, as well as natural teeth that fracture in normal function but are subjected to high biting forces and poorly done root canals. In young patients, cutting down natural teeth for crowns can cause a situation that, when the crowns need to be replaced, the supporting teeth are too weak for a new crown.

Implants are like placing a new root into bone, which prevents future bone loss and restores natural function and esthetics. Implants can be made of titanium or zirconia, a relatively new but strong ceramic. The benefit of these two materials is that our natural jaw bone is capable of completely growing around them. This is called integration of the implant.

How are the implants used once they integrate into the bone?
If a single tooth is lost, a post (abutment) and crown can be attached to the implant. If all or most of the teeth are lost, several implants can be placed and crowns, bridges or even complete dentures can be permanently attached to the implants.

Are mini implants good?
In America we want things quick, easy and cheap. They do have their place in dentistry but, in my opinion, a traditional implant placed by an oral surgeon has the most predictable likelihood of long-term success. This leads us to the question of implant longevity. Implant integration is about 95 percent to 98 percent successful and can last the entire lifetime of a patient.

Can implants fail?
Sure. Like all medical procedures, nothing is 100 percent successful. When implants fail it is usually due to poor implant placement during surgery, a patient who smokes or has diabetes, crowns on implants that are not balanced in the bite and the failure of the general dentist to remove all of the cement after placing a crown. And let’s not forget poor oral hygiene.

Are implants a great way to replace all or some of our missing teeth?
Absolutely yes.

Are implants expensive?
Again, yes, and that is because implants are among the most time- and talent-demanding treatment options that dentists and surgeons do. Implants are expensive because they are not covered by most dental insurance and the parts and laboratory fees are extremely high. Compared to hips and knees, which are covered by most medical insurance, the patient pays a small part of the replacement costs.

Written by: Dr. Gerald Benjamin

Gerald C. Benjamin, DDS, brings tireless devotion to his work, 39 years of experience in restorative and esthetic dentistry and the highest quality service to create extraordinary smiles in the New York Capital District. Dr. Benjamin believes it takes a team to achieve the long-lasting effects of a great smile. His practice is located at 18 Division Street, Suite 205 in Saratoga Springs, New York; call 518-583-1116 for a consultation.