Dental implants are fast becoming, if not currently are, the first choice of treatment when a tooth needs to be replaced. The first dental implant, on a human volunteer, was placed in 1965 by Swedish physician & researcher Per-Ingvar Brånemark. However, his revolutionary procedure was formally presented and analyzed in detail only in 1978 at the first Dental Implant Consensus Conference which was jointly organised by the National Institutes of Health, USA and Harvard University.
Of course, since then the field of Dental Implantology has seen improvements in leaps & bounds. As more funding & research was directed to the field, clinical standards, predictability and success of both the materials & techniques have seen a significant development. At present, the accepted survival & success rate of single straight-forward implants are considered to be over 90%. With proper care, they may even be expected to last a lifetime.
Why should I have an implant you may ask? Currently, it is the only solution that could give you a natural almost one-for-one replacement to fill an empty space in your jaw. What does it look like? Is it painful? These are very natural questions that always follow.
Essentially a “tooth-implant” consists of three very specific pieces. The implant itself (dentists call this the “fixture”). This is the actual titanium “root” that is anchored to the jaw. Fixtures are generally made of a variety of commercially-pure titanium (which incidentally happens to be a very cool material) or titanium-alloy. Upon this sits a ‘core’ (professionally called an “abutment”), which somewhat acts like the main body for the new tooth. Finally, of course, the new tooth (the “crown”) itself, which is cemented (read glued) or screwed-onto (yes you read it right, literally tightened with a mini-screwdriver) to the abutment/core mentioned above.
For some though, the thought of having an artificial object inserted into your mouth, a very personal space of our bodies I might add, can be quite terrifying. However, you may be surprised to hear that, as a procedure, straight-forward implant placement involves minimal downtime and most surprisingly minimal pain, in spite of the need for surgery.
As a dentist, why is it my ‘go-to’ choice? Because it gives me a chance to save any remaining natural teeth from being trimmed or used whenever someone wants a new ‘fixed’ (unlike a denture, which is removable) tooth in their jaws.
Are we seeing the next phase of ‘evolution’ in dentistry? Most definitely…