What Makes A Dental Implant Successful?
My new patient looked at me expectantly. “My best friend, who is a dentist, told me to come to you for my dental implant. My dentist said that she would pick you to place her implant, so here I am!”
For my new patient, deciding who to have place her dental implant out of all the choices available in Portland, OR, was an easy choice for her since she had “insider” information. But if you don’t have access to where a doctor would personally go for the same procedure that you need, how do you decide who to have place your dental implant so that it is a success?
Outcomes for dental implants are heavily influenced by the skill and experience of the oral surgeon who places the implant and the dentist who places the dental abutment and implant crown. Implant dentistry is a team sport and requires strong surgical skills, an orientation towards details, and experience.
A skilled surgeon will not only evaluate your health and habits, but will also use technology to assess bone and gum volume. The surgeon will also be instrumental in selecting the correct dental implant width and length and will guide the dentist in the proper abutment and crown for the implant. The dental implant, which is like the root of a tooth, will be placed at the proper depth and orientation to allow the dentist to attach a life-like implant crown. The surgeon and dentist need to work well together and have excellent communication skills to ensure the best outcome for the patient.
At Geisler OMS, we begin with a detailed overall health assessment for our patients seeking dental implant reconstruction. Most patients are very healthy and will heal uneventfully after dental implant surgery. However, patients who have trouble with wound healing could have problems with the integration of the dental implant to the jaw bone. These patients may also be inclined to lose bone around the implant leading to a later failure. Identifying these concerns prior to surgery can change a potential dental implant failure to a success by addressing and treating health issues prior to surgery.
Dr. Geisler also makes an initial assessment for sleep disordered breathing or sleep apnea for her dental implant patients. Patients who have undiagnosed sleep apnea have an increased risk of breaking their implants and/or losing bone volume around them due to tooth grinding (bruxism) and clenching. Referring indicated patients for a sleep medicine evaluation prior to dental implant reconstruction will often prevent the dental implant, abutment, and implant crown from failing in the future.
Assessing oral hygiene habits is also important since patients with gum disease can lose bone with their dental implant — which can lead to failure of the dental implant and crown. Educating patients prior to dental implant placement on proper hygiene helps to ensure that the dental implant, abutment, and crown all last.
The assessment of bone volume is very important for the correct placement of dental implants as well as assessing the gum tissue volume and thickness. Advanced technology exists that allows for 3D printing of surgical guides for dental implants. In some selected cases, at GeislerOMS, we are able to use 3D data for braces (Invisalign) to treatment plan the placement of future dental implants. And, 3D printing of the dental abutment and crown is an emerging technology that allows for esthetic outcomes and shorter treatment times. Working closely with the restoring doctor on digital data collection and treatment planning is extremely important.
Finally, perhaps the most important variable for a healthy dental implant, is the overall experience of the oral surgeon placing the implant. An experienced surgeon places hundreds of dental implants a year and is skilled in identifying potential sources of failure prior to surgery. She will have a broad experience with bone grafting as well as gum tissue reconstruction. She will also have extensive knowledge of handling complications related to dental implant surgery and will have an evidence based practice using clinical trials to guide her dental implant surgical practices.
A skilled surgeon will set up your dental implant reconstruction for a successful outcome for the dentist placing the crown. The beauty of a dental implant abutment and crown will often depend on how well the surgery has been done. It is in the details that dental implants remain healthy and look great.
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