By Sam E. Ruvinov, D.D.S., Originally printed in St. Louis Women’s Journal

Healthy teeth are a gift we often take for granted. Losing one or more teeth impacts our smile, our confidence, and enjoyment of favorite foods. Dental implant technology is taking us a step closer to ideal tooth replacement. They feel secure, look and function like natural teeth.

Dental implant technology has been around for decades.In the 1950’s researchers noticed that titanium and some other materials formed a strong bond with the bone. That gave rise to the use of teeth implants.In fact, some patients have had dental implants for more than forty years. Hundreds of thousands of implants have been placed with more than a 90%success rate. All other metal implants used in different parts of the body (including prosthetic hips and knees) are based on the same technology as dental implants.

Dental implants are used for replacement of missing teeth.In the case of a single missing tooth, a dental implant can be placed in the jaw bone area of the missing tooth and serve as a replacement of the root and individual crown. Once in place the single tooth implant crown will look, feel and function just like a natural tooth. Single tooth implant crowns are brushed and flossed like natural teeth although dental implants will not decay, they require impeccable oral hygiene.

Dental implants can also be used to replace many missing teeth. Multiple teeth replaced by dental implants can avoid the need for a removable denture. Removable dentures can be hard to get used to. Most of the time removable partial den-tues have clasps that put additional stress on existing teeth.

Full removable dentures maybe difficult to wear and may interfere with eating and speaking. Some patients are never able to adapt to day-to-day functioning with their full dentures. Many of these patients do not have adequate bone to stabilize a lower denture .Others never develop enough muscle coordination to learn how to chew with their dentures.

Patients that wear dentures for a long time may have additional loss of their bone supporting the denture. Bone loss scan be accelerated by osteoporosis and eventually den-tues may be very difficult to wear if not impossible. Poor fitting dentures can interfere with proper nutrition and quality of life.

Generally, one implant is used to replace each missing tooth. In some situations, several implants need to be joined together in to a bridge. This adds strength to the implant restoration. If there is not enough bone available to replace a whole set of teeth,implants may be used as anchors for dentures. When dentures are supported by implants they can be much more stable.

Implants help prevent the deterioration of the bone. Even with as few as two or four dental implants the retention and stability of the lower denture can be greatly increased. Some patients have estimated that they regained up to 70% of their original chewing capacity with adventure supported by only two implants.

Today’s diagnostic equipment such as digital radiography and computer topography gives us a three-dimensional image of the bone and bone density.That helps us to place implants precisely. A competitive market offers a great variety of dental implants of different sizes and shapes. Some implant surfaces are covered with minerals that attract bone cells, promoting easier and faster bone integration. Clinicians nationwide report a 97-99% success rate in implant dentistry.

Complete clinical examination and X-ray by your dentist will determine if you are a suitable candidate for dental implants. You must also commit to flossing, brushing, rinsing and check ups to keep dental implants healthy. When getting dental implant you should select a dentist or dental team with an in-depth knowledge and prior experience with all aspects of the treatment.

Learn about mini dental implants»