Removing gaps depends on overall health

Dental implants, an artificial tooth root surgically anchored into a jaw to hold a replacement tooth or several teeth in place, offer a permanent solution to replace lost or extracted teeth. Implants have become a treatment of choice for some patients to eliminate the need for removable partial or complete dentures. Other patients choose implants for esthetic purposes or to conserve tooth structure in an otherwise cavity-free mouth.

However, according to a recent report in the November/December issue of General Dentistry, the Academy of General Dentistry's (AGD) clinical, peer-reviewed journal, the success or failure of an implant relies on a number of factors, including the quality of the patient's overall health.

The success rate for implants decreases in patients that suffer from chronic problems, such as tooth grinding and clenching or systemic diseases, such as uncontrolled diabetes. Also, individuals who smoke heavily or abuse alcohol may not be ideal candidates for the procedure.

"You must have good bone quality and a lack of chronic periodontal disease for the implant to stay in place," says report lead author Judith A. Porter, DDS, MA EdD. "Patients are unaware that bone loss in their jaw will often follow the loss of a tooth. When that happens, over time, bone loss can cause facial changes and diet changes."

Successfully placed dental implants allow the bone to grow around the artificial tooth root and to firmly hold it in place. Implants also help patients regain everyday functions, such as normal eating and speaking abilities.

"Implants are a good solution to tooth loss because they look and feel like natural teeth," says Kenton Ross, DMD, FAGD, an AGD spokesperson. "They can enhance a patient's quality of life and self-image."

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NOTE: Information that appears in General Dentistry, the AGD's peer-reviewed journal, AGD Impact, the AGD's newsmagazine and related press releases do not necessarily reflect the endorsement of the AGD.


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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