In recent years, dental implants have become the tooth replacement option of choice for dentists and patients alike. By replacing missing tooth roots, implants provide greater stability for large dental restorations, like bridges and dentures. And for both single-tooth replacement and multiple-tooth replacement, implants stimulate tissue regeneration and help to prevent jawbone recession.
Nonetheless, for patients to enjoy the aesthetic, functional, and health benefits of dental implants, careful treatment planning is essential. Today’s implant dentists use a variety of state-of-the-art tools, including digital imaging and even computer-guided surgery to ensure the most precise and accurate treatment.
Careful Planning Helps to Avoid Implant Failure
Dental implants are highly successful, with a 90-95% success rate over 10 years. But implant failure and complications are possible. There are several types of complications.
- Early complications: These occur soon after implant surgery, and they prevent the bone from fusing with the implant posts. Insufficient bone tissue, and poor oral health are leading causes of early complications.
- Late complications: This type occurs after the jawbone has healed and the implants are fixed in the mouth. Late complications can include gum inflammation and bone loss, often associated with plaque buildup.
- Technical complications: These complications include damage to the implants or the restorations themselves, and they are not related to oral health. The most common technical complication is when the abutment post, which attaches the restoration to the implant, becomes loose.
Proper treatment planning can dramatically reduce the risk of implant failure, especially early complications. However, oral health also plays a role, so it is important that patients are vigilant about dental hygiene.
The first step in planning for dental implants is to determine whether the treatment is appropriate based on immediately discernible factors. An oral surgeon or dentist will take many elements into account, including:
- Gum disease, which will increase the risk of complications
- Jawbone recession, although a bone graft can often restore candidacy
- Chronic health conditions that would impact healing
- Smoking or other lifestyle choices that could compromise dental implants
- Goals and expectations for treatment
Evaluating the Jawbone
A jaw examination will reveal whether there is sufficient support for dental implants. Bone shrinkage follows quickly after tooth loss, so an oral surgeon will need to assess the alveolar bone. This bony ridge houses tooth roots and will provide support for implant posts. Digital x-rays can capture sharper images than film. And CT scans offer three-dimensional images that will enable a surgeon to better examine bone density.
Our team will also need to look at the interdental space, the space between teeth, to make sure there is enough room for the implant and the attached restoration. For a successful treatment, there should be at least 1.5 mm between an implant and the closest tooth. If more than one implant is being placed, this space should be at least 3 mm.
Assessing the Soft Tissues
Our implant dentist will also need to examine the gums. Not only will we look for signs of gum disease, but our dental provider will also determine how much keratinized tissue is present in the area. Keratinized tissue produces the protein keratin, which will help to stabilize a dental implant. Some research suggests that inflammation is more likely if there is less than 2 mm of keratinized tissue in the implant location.
Considering Jaw and Bite Alignment
It is also important to determine how dental implants will affect the balance of a patient’s bite. If the balance is off, a patient could experience frequent headaches, TMJ Disorder, and damage to the other teeth. Often, smile simulators will enable a practitioner to design the restoration and examine how it will affect the bite in 3-D images.
CT Scans and Computer-Guided Surgery
Computer-guided implant surgery is also becoming more common. Using this technology, a implant surgeon can use a cone beam scanner to capture three-dimensional images of the mouth. Cone beam scans show the jaw and alveolar bones, as well as the surrounding tooth roots, the thickness of the gum tissue, and the nearby teeth.
Once captured, these images can be uploaded to the computer, where a surgeon can manipulate them, planning the precise angle and positioning of the implant post. By providing detailed images of all relevant tissues, computer-guided implant surgery can greatly reduce the likelihood of complications. Further, it can make surgery faster, and it can minimize inflammation and side effects.
Contact Our Office To Learn More
To learn more about the planning process for dental implants or to begin your restorative treatment, contact our experienced implant dentist today.