Q: Can dental implants help fix an overbite

Dental Implants FAQs TorranceA: The answer to this question is yes and no. Overbite is the excessive overlapping of the upper front teeth over the lower front teeth. A slight overbite is natural. But a severe overbite can cause ongoing pain, temporo mandibular displacement (displacement of the jaw joint), even loss of some permanent teeth. While a treatment plan is being prepared for replacing missing teeth with dental implants, dentists can fix a certain amount of overbite. The reason is because the implants are rooted in the jawbone, and hence, bone orientation can be slightly changed to make a small adjustment to your bite. Your dentist can give you an accurate evaluation of whether implants can fix your overbite and improve your smile. In case the overbite is too severe, you should look for alternative treatment like orthodontics surgery.

Q: What causes dental implant failure

A: In 95% cases, dental implants are successfully integrated. However, implants involve surgery, and like all other surgical operations there are risks involved. The main causes of implant failure are:

  • Failed Osseo-integration- A properly installed implant will typically integrate well with the jaw bone through a natural process known as osseo-integration. Bones cells fuse into the surface of the implant, forming a very strong, natural bond. Possible causes for osseo-integration failure are:
    • Not enough bone density or mass
    • Poor positioning
    • Overloading / sudden impact
    • Injury to surrounding tissues
    • Broken implant
    • Reaction to anesthesia
  • Peri-Implantitis – This an infection of the area surrounding the implant. If bacteria is present during surgery, proper post-surgery hygiene is not followed rigorously, it can cause peri-implantitis. This can also happen if the dental cement used in putting the crowns on abutments leaks out into the gum.
  • Nerve and Tissue Damage- This is a rare cause, but can occur during surgery.
  • Foreign body rejection – This does not happen with materials used currently, but may happen in very rare cases.
  • Allergic Reaction- Titanium is very bio-compatible, but in very rare cases a patient may be allergic to titanium also.
  • Uncontrolled Type II diabetes – can cause implant failure.
  • Other factors- use of bisphosphonates, bruxism, smoking, etc.

Q: What are dental implants made of?

Dental Implants FAQs Torrance CAA:  Initially, dental implants were formed with pure titanium. However, the pure metal is not strong enough, and alloys were created with minor amounts of other metals such as nickel to improve durability and other properties. A very small number of people are allergic to these alloys. There were other, rather theoretical, concerns about these alloys in the mouth such as piezoelectricity, thermal conductivity, oxidation, and showing of the metal color in spaces above the gum. Zirconia, which is oxide of zirconium metal, has been known as the possible alternative.  However, zirconium is frail and may crack. No repair can be done, and it must be removed, leaving a large fault in the bone Being one piece, zirconium implants require an error free placement. This is why titanium alloys are usually preferred.

Q: I have lost a front upper tooth. Will an implant help me? Is it a difficult operation?

A: An implant is a wonderful solution for your problem. Front teeth, apart from strength, are essential for their aesthetic appearance. Other dental restorations do not compete with dental implants. However, esthetic replacement of a front tooth with a dental implant needs expertise and precision. First of all, the broken tooth needs to be removed completely, and without damaging the surrounding bone and nearby flesh. Any damage to the socket may cause the procedure to be aborted.  This is because the empty socket has to receive the implant and hold it firm. The strength is obtained when the surrounding bone grows into the surface of the implant in a natural process known as osseo-integration (bone jointing). If there is a space between the bone and the implant surface, osseo-integration will not completely occur, and the implant may fail.

A special problem with the front teeth are that the sockets are conical, therefore, the implant of the exact size needs to be screwed in deep so that there is no gap around the implant. This requires precision and expertise. Performed by an expert, a front tooth implant will give you a permanent, trouble free restoration with very desirable aesthetic qualities. The only care you need is to allow proper osseo-integration before loading it, and after, regular dental hygiene practice.

Q: Are dental implants covered by dental insurance?

A:  Many insurances will cover a portion or even the whole cost of getting dental implants. However, this depends on the insurance plan you have. A variety of insurance plans are available, so you should always check with your insurance provider about coverage. Some will provide immediate coverage, while others may require a qualifying period. In some plans the coverage may be partial.  It is always good to check first with your insurance provider. We are also able to go over your plan with you to find out if it covers dental implants and how much they can cover.

Q: Do dental implants cause pain?

A: A dental implant procedure from an expert oral surgeon will hurt you just as much as an extraction, that is nothing at all! Be aware that the installation of an implant involves surgery, and may require several visits.  First, if any teeth require extraction they will be extracted. Traditionally, the gums will be allowed to heal before moving further.

The modern practice is to place the implants in selected places right after the extraction. Implant placement requires drilling into the jaw bone, and then screwing the implant in. After the implant is placed, the gums are stitched to cover the implant leaving open the abutment for placement of the artificial teeth. During the surgery, you will feel pain-free because the dentist will ensure a suitable anesthesia.  However, after the procedure, like after an extraction or any surgery, you may experience slight pain or discomfort around the wounds for a few days until they heal. Such pain can be managed easily with the help of any suitable pain killers that will be prescribed by your dentist.

Q: How long a healing time can I expect after getting dental implants

A: The traditional and conservative implant procedure happens in multiple stages. A healing time may be required after the first stage. Thus, the recovery time can vary greatly depending on the number of teeth involved, the patient’s health, etc. Here is a list of steps that happen in between the procedure and healing, once these processes have been completed successfully you will have healthy, new teeth.

  • In the first place, if bone grafting is required, a waiting period of four to six months may be necessary before the next process can happen. Grafting is required only if the patient is lacking bone at the site of the implant.
  • If bone grafting is not required, but extractions must be done, there is also a healing period required for the gum injury. Currently, many dentists  install the implants at the same time as the extractions so that a double healing period is not required. Before stitching over the gum tissue, a healing cap is attached to the implant. Depending on the health of the patient, healing may take about a week.
  • A second surgery is then performed after four to six months when the bone has fused with the implant surface. The healing cap is exposed and the gum around it  is stitched. The gum heals around the cap, fitting to the cap’s shape.
  • Once the gum has healed, and the dentist is sure the osseo-integration is complete, the healing cap can be removed and an abutment can be placed, on which the artificial tooth or denture may be positioned.

Q: How should I care for my dental implants?

A:  One huge advantage of implants over other kinds of restorations is that once a dental implant is installed, it needs no special care. All you need is to practice regular hygiene as is required for natural teeth. Briefly, the following needs to be done.

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day using a low-abrasive toothpaste. A low-abrasive toothpaste should be used because a toothpaste that is too abrasive can wear out the teeth and the implant below. Brushing should be for about two minutes every time, spreading the time evenly over all teeth. In order not to skip a section, a definite order is preferable, eg:
    • Begin from the outside of right of the upper jaw and brush to the left end.
    • Then brush the insides of these same teeth brushing from the left end to the right end. Be sure to clean the chewing surfaces of the molars.
    • Now begin from the right of the lower jaw brushing the outsides of the lower teeth moving to the left end
    • Brush the insides of lower teeth starting from the left end.
  • Floss your teeth every day to ensure interdental cleaning. For this purpose, a tap-floss or a water flosser/water pick can be used. Choice of the floss will depend on your personal preference or what your dentist recommends.
  • An essential part is to visit your dentist for inspections every six months. If you observe anything abnormal, report it right away for correction.
  • Avoid tobacco, or your artificial and natural teeth may become stained.

Q: Dental implants are such a lovely thing. Who invented dental implants?

A: Dental implants are ideal dental restorations because of osseo-integration, a very successful discovery for modern dentistry. The process of osseo-integration was first ‘observed’ by Bothe, Beaton, and Davenport in 1940. They studied the tendency of titanium to integrate with animal tissue and discussed its potential for use in prostheses for human use. Later in 1951, Gottlieb Leventhal also described his experiments with similar results, and similar comments about utilization. Per-Ingvar Brånemark coined  the term “osseointegration” in 1952, when describing his experiments. Prof Branemark was also the first person to perform a dental implant procedure  in 1965 in a patient called Gösta Larsson.

Learn more about dental implants to find out if they are right for you.