Dr. Kenneth Cho, of Kenneth Cho Dentistry in La Habra, CA, is a noted dental implant dentist who provides advanced treatments such as dental implants as well as comprehensive, skilled dental care for residents of La Habra, Brea, Fullerton, and nearby areas in Los Angeles County. While dental implants have demonstrated a high success rate, there are some rare problems that may occur in a small number of patients, and many of these may actually be prevented. Dr. Cho provides the following information to help you identify potential failures with dental implants and assist you in their prevention.
Dental Implants Provide Worry-free Tooth Replacement
Dental implants provide the safe, effective, reliable long-term tooth replacement solution in use today. Dental implants have been studied extensively since their emergence in the field of dentistry in the 1980s; and, while most dental implants have demonstrated a minimum 10-year rate of success with no complications in over 95% of all patients, there are occasional problematic cases in which complications do arise.
How Dental Implants Work
There are several components and steps to the complete process of inserting a dental implant to replace a missing tooth. The first step involves inserting the actual dental implant, which is a small post made of metal and shaped like a screw that is affixed directly into the jawbone inside the gum tissue. This simple surgical procedure is performed under local anesthesia and typically causes only mild discomfort. Titanium, the metal of choice used to make most dental implants, is widely used in the medical field in a variety of surgical procedures, due to its unique capacity to encourage the growth of living bone on its surface, or “osseointegration.” Titanium has demonstrated its reliability in providing solid, lasting support for crowns and bridges that may be anchored to the dental implant. Once the titanium implant has healed and integrated into the bone tissue, the next step is to attach a connector called an abutment, onto which a porcelain crown is attached in the final step.
Planning for Successful Dental Implant Treatment
A successful dental implant treatment plan must be planned and executed carefully among the team of implant specialists, which typically consist of an oral surgeon, a periodontist, or a general dentist with appropriate training in implant dentistry such as Dr. Cho, as well as a restorative dentist and a laboratory technician. The team will require a complete medical history as well as a complete x-ray of your mouth, and Dr. Cho will complete a thorough oral examination to determine such important factors as the condition of your underlying jawbone; the location of key anatomical structures, such as blood vessels, nerves, and sinus cavities; and the number of implants required to restore healthy function. We will need to know about any and all medications and supplements that you are taking, as you may need to suspend use of certain medications for a day or so in order to prepare for dental implant treatment. Dr. Cho will then determine the required number and location of the implants; the impact of the biting forces that they will receive; and the most appropriate crowns, bridges or dentures to attach to them.
Factors that Affect Implant Success
There are a number of health conditions, as well as lifestyle habits, that may affect bone quality and, by extension, the osseointegration process, and the body’s ability to support the implant as well as its attached crown, bridge, or denture. For example, individuals with conditions such as diabetes, or those with a compromised immune system or degenerative conditions such as osteoporosis, as well as smokers, may suffer an increased risk for implant failure or problems with healing after implant surgery.
In some rare cases, the titanium implant may not successfully integrate with the bone tissue, possibly due to a preexisting or post-operative infection in the treatment site. In some cases, the implant may fail to integrate with the bone tissue because the body secretes a thin fibrous capsule that envelops it and prevents the integration process, though scientists have not been able to determine the reason for this. In these rare cases, typically, the solution may be to remove the implant and clean out the capsule thoroughly, allow the socket to heal, and repeat the implant procedure, possibly using a larger size implant.
Loading “Same Day” Implants
One important factor to remember about dental implants is that these procedures require time to heal properly in order to produce optimal results. Healing of underlying bone tissue and healthy osseointegration must occur in order for implant surgery to be fully successful, and for an implant to withstand even gentle biting forces. For this reason, dentists will not generally “load” new implants too early by placing permanent crowns on them, which may disrupt the process of osseointegration. Care must be taken to avoid stressing the implant site while osseointegration is taking place.
In many cases, while your permanent crown is being crafted in the laboratory, a temporary or “same day” crown may be placed over a new implant immediately after inserting it for cosmetic reasons; however the height of the crown is shortened so as to avoid meeting the opposing teeth and creating force during biting or chewing that might stress or disturb the new implant. Permanent crowns will be positioned once the bone has healed thoroughly and osseointegration has occurred successfully.
Loading Multiple Implants
If you are getting multiple implants, however, immediate loading may be more feasible without stressing the implant site if a full set of replacement teeth is being inserted as a single unit. In these cases, the implants are all attached to a single “arch” or dental prosthesis, which supports and stabilizes them, protecting them from stress and motion by converting them into a rigid, immovable unit. Contact Dr. Cho with any questions you may have about dental implants, even if you have trouble with existing dental implants.