We are seeing more and more publicity about dental implants in the media. I am so happy that the public is being educated about this excellent way to replace missing teeth. However, the public also needs to know that placing and restoring dental implants is not always a slam dunk.
I have had patients referred to me with implants placed that can’t be restored – meaning the root has been replaced, but there’s no room for the tooth. How would you like to be that patient? You’ve gone through the surgery to place the implant. You’ve paid for the implant. Your bone has grown around the implant (osseointegrated). You have healed and your body has accepted the implant. It’s in there for life. And now there is no room for a tooth? Or maybe, it’s in the wrong place. What do we do now?
Well, the implant will need to be surgically removed. And, the socket from where the implant was will need to be grafted with bone. When all of that heals, you can go through another surgery to have the implant placed in the correct position. What a nightmare!
How do we avoid these “mistakes”? Planning. It’s all in the advanced planning. We used to have to depend on a radiograph (x-ray) and what we see in your mouth to predict what we will find out during your surgery. While this is still done in many cases, it is not always the best way to plan for implant supported teeth.
We now have the technology to have a scan done of your mouth. This scan can then be converted into a 3-D image on a computer. The scan tells us where your nerves and sinuses are. It also tells us the height, width, and density of your bone. With a computer program we can place a tooth (or teeth) in the 3-D image of your mouth and see how it fits with the other teeth. The program has a library of different types of dental implants. We can select the implant and manufacturer that is ideal for your situation. We can then order a surgical guide that allows us to place the implant exactly where it needs to go. We know well before your surgery what we should be able to accomplish.