The first dental implant was placed in 1965. It is now estimated by the American Dental Association that approximately 5 million dental implants are placed each year in the United States. That’s a lot of dental implants!
Many people think of a dental implant as a replacement for a single tooth, or that you need to replace multiple missing teeth with one implant per tooth. This is not always correct: sometimes you can replace a full jaw of missing or damaged teeth with just four dental implants! Keep reading to learn more.
Let’s start with a single missing tooth. It is logical to replace that one missing tooth with just one dental implant. Now, increase that region to 3 missing teeth. You can definitely place 3 implants with 3 “crowns” or “caps” onto each implant, but you can also place two dental implants and suspend three crowns off of those two dental implants. This is called a “bridge.” There are benefits to replacing each of those three missing teeth with three individual dental implants, but if you’re looking to keep costs low, then a bridge will help accomplish that. What if you’re missing most teeth, but have a few very strong ones remaining? The traditional way of replacing those missing teeth is with a “removable partial denture.” This is an appliance you take in and out of your mouth that has the missing teeth on it. Depending on the location of those “anchor teeth,” your denture may be very stable. However, sometimes the denture is loose. Dental implants can help to provide additional stability for that denture, increasing your chewing power and confidence. Sometimes the dental implants can even help to eliminate the unsightly clasps that are needed to help retain the denture!
When a person is missing all of their teeth in one (or both) of their jaws, a “full” or “complete” denture is the most common way to help out. Again, these are removable: when you go to bed at night, you take your teeth out and put them in a glass of water. Dental implants can do one of two things in this case: 1) increase the amount of retention to that removable denture so your chewing power is increased, along with an increase in your confidence, or 2) eliminate the removable teeth all-together, so you don’t have to take the teeth out anymore. Read on for details: In the first scenario, anywhere from two to six dental implants are placed to allow your denture to “snap” onto the dental implants. You still have a removable denture which means the teeth come in and out, but what you are rewarded with is significantly less movement, an increasing in chewing power and efficiency, and an increase in satisfaction and confidence. This appliance is known as an “overdenture.”
In the second scenario, anywhere from four to six dental implants are placed and permanent teeth are connected to the dental implants. You now have a set of strong, stable, non-movable teeth that oftentimes allows the wearer to completely forget they have artificial teeth! Many patients describe the outcome as a “new lease on life,” providing them with a great smile, great function, great comfort, and a very high level of satisfaction. This process goes by a lot of names, with the most common being “All-On-Four®.” Just note it is very important this complex procedure be provided by a well-trained and skilled doctor, team, and facility who can also address maintenance.
As you can see, dental implants not only have come a long way, but provide multiple options for patients. If you’re in need of some dental help, give us a call and see what we can do for you! We’re one of the most comprehensive dental implant providers in the community, and we’d love to meet you, and see how we can help!
About the author: Dr. Ira Goldberg has been performing general dentistry procedures, as well as dental implant procedures, for 24 years. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Oral Implantology / Implant Dentistry, a Diplomate of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry, and a Scholar of the Dawson Academy for Complete Dentistry. He performs all phases of implant dentistry at his office in Succasunna, NJ. He lectures to dentists in the field of implantology. For a free consultation, including a free 3-D scan (if necessary), please call his office at (973) 328-1225.