Dental implants are more than just the foundation for replacing missing teeth, they are the key to a new life for those who have given up on smiling and eating the foods they once enjoyed. Dental implants, or the bridges/prosthesis/dentures they support, can be the difference between having a mate, a job, a full life, and not having these things. Our ability to chew food and smile greatly affects our ability live an enjoyable life. And dental implants are often the solution that dental tourists need most to restore their smile.
Technically, a dental implant has three components – the stem, the abutment and the crown. The stem is the actual metal screw-like structure that is screwed into the Patient’s jawbone (the maxilla or the mandible). Unlike most normal screws, dental implants are threaded internally to receive another screw. This enables a Dental Implant Surgeon or Dental Implant Specialist to complete the restoration of the dental implant surgical process. That is because once the implant has successfully osseo-integrated into the jaw bone, a crown, bridge of prosthesis can be installed by fastening it into the stem. This is accomplished by means of the abutment which has the crown fabricated onto it – or fasteners for bridges/prosthesis or hybrid dentures.
There are many manufacturers of dental implants, but they are not all of equal quality. Some name-brands like Zimmer, Straumann, Nobel Biocare stand out among the favored brands by experienced Dental Implant Surgeons, Dental Implant Specialists, and Implantologists. Some oral surgeons, Periodontists and other Doctors who place implants use some less expensive brands such as 3i, MIS, and BioHorizons, and the latest up and comer, Implant Direct. While all these companies have good reputations and good products, the more established brands have greater market share and are able to make their product readily available worldwide.
The biggest problem with using lesser-known dental implant brands is that the full array of pieces, or “parts” are not always readily available. This can be problematic for a dental implant Patient when issues arise. Dental tourists may need to travel back to the Dental Implant Surgeon who initially placed the dental implants for maintenance or repairs. This can be taxing on time, and costly. It is always best to confirm the dental implants that are to be used in your case to avoid these issues. Sometimes, Dental Implant Surgeons make available a variety of brands and have tools to service others.
The truth is most things made out of titanium do not break, so any dental implant should do the job for a missing tooth. At least for a certain period of time, as some dental implants may hold up better than others. As with any other well-engineered products, top of the line dental implants tend to do better in tests and in practical use. They have greater efficacy. They tend to cause fewer problems. And for this reason, many carry lifetime guaranties. But be careful, not all guarantees are equal! Make sure your dental surgeon or dental implant specialist clearly explains what is covered if a dental implant breaks. Make sure you understand clearly that a crown that sits on top of a dental implant is NOT a dental implant. If a crown breaks, it may be warrantied, but not as a dental implant.
Dental implants vary in quality, type, size and material. Most dental implants are made of titanium which has proven to be a highly bio-compatible material for most people. For those with more sensitive systems, zirconia has proven to be another excellent material. Zirconia has even a lesser chance of causing allergic reactions than titanium dental implants. People who seek a metal-free body, opt for zirconia dental implant. At present, zirconia dental implants are as close as we can get to metal-free in the world of dental implants.
While dental implants have been used for 1000’s of years, it is only over the past few decades that dental implants have become a mainstay and mainstream solution in dentistry. Before that, bridges were the most common solution to replace missing teeth. Now, both solutions are often used together, especially for people who are undergoing a full mouth restoration. In fact, dental implants have reached critical mass, so now manufacturers are constantly improving the designs.
Dental implants sure have come a long way since bamboo, wooden and other stems or posts were used by more primitive and ancient cultures. These materials were used to secure stone or bone as replacement teeth – basically, make-shift dental implants. Dental implants, even in their crudest and earliest form, proved to be a great solution to help those with missing teeth. These “fake teeth” helped people regain their ability to masticate food – a critical activity for staying nourished and healthy.
Since individual dental implants are the best way to restore function of a missing tooth, they are the preferred and advisable method of doing so. Those who lack the funds necessary to purchase dental implants have other options, such as the installation of bridges (that use adjacent teeth to support a pontic – or false tooth). The problem with solutions such as those are that good teeth need to be sacrificed to make room for the crowns to be placed over natural teeth. Once natural material is removed from a tooth, it can only be built back up with composite materials. Other solutions include partial dentures which fill in the gap of a missing smile, but DO NOT provide the function required for proper eating/chewing/masticating.
So, for those who have the funds available, it is usually advisable to have dental implants placed. One of the main reasons this is a smart way to proceed is that once a dental implant is placed, it can help prevent the natural bone that surrounds the tooth socket from re-absorbing, or in other words – shrinking. It also prevents other healthy teeth from becoming mobile, as is what tends to happen once a tooth is missing. If a missing tooth is not replaced, it is not uncommon that other teeth become problematic due to its absence.