Implants have completely changed our expectations when treating tooth loss in patients at all levels of care. From situation that only involve one tooth to full mouth reconstruction, implants provide a very good and comfortable option for patients.
Implants are often the very best opportunity to replace a missing tooth. An implant does not require modification of adjacent teeth and is the treatment of choice between two natural teeth, when the teeth on either side do not need to be altered or ground down. If the last tooth in the back is missing, an implant can be used instead of a removable denture or removable partial denture. Removable appliances can be uncomfortable and need to come out at night, and frequently get food caught under them, interrupting meals.
Implants are very versatile. They can be used to replace a single tooth or an entire arch. They can also be used to support a floppy denture; when placed under an existing denture they increase chewing efficiency and eliminating painful pressure on the gum. The truly great thing about implants is they don’t have to come out at night. Patients forget about the fact that they are there. You brush and floss them like a tooth.
Five year success rates are now in the 90% range. The first successful implants were place forty years ago, and had an 85-90% success rate at twenty years. Implants are evolving rapidly and being adapted to more and more situations, with great success.
And success rates are very likely to improve with new technology. Virtually pre-planning the exact placement of an implant using a computer models is now a reality. This new technology integrates digital laser scans of the teeth with 3D digital x-rays of the jaws. Pre-planning software eliminates the guesswork and improves the placement of implants close to natural teeth. Implant placement is becoming more comfortable, safer and more reliable.
So there is much to be discovered about this useful new modality in dentistry. While there is an understandable reluctance to try something new, the success rates in the five year time frame are so positive and the benefits so clear, implants will continue to be a popular choice for patients and doctors alike.