With dental implants, many people get their smiles back, can bite again and chew well. "Important is a thorough preparation, " Dr. Silke Liebrecht, Senior Physician at the Center for Dental, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery of the University of Cologne. In an interview with proDente, she describes her experiences with the use of modern dental implants.
For which patients is tooth implantation the appropriate procedure?
In principle, every missing tooth can be replaced by an implant. This artificial tooth root is especially recommended if the neighboring teeth are still completely healthy and you can avoid their abrasion.
Implants are also very helpful for large gaps that are difficult to close with a bridge. Even with a denture with gappy anterior teeth, a single implanted tooth looks better than a bridge of firmly connected teeth. And if you do not have any teeth, implants can serve as a firm anchoring of the prosthesis or an extensive bridge.
In which cases do you advise patients to use alternative dentures?
Basically, diseases such as blood clotting, metabolic and bone diseases speak against an implant and the intake of drugs that suppress the immune system.
In addition, I make sure that the oral hygiene is right. If you do not want to spend a lot of effort, I advise against it. I'm also careful when the patients smoke. Especially during the healing of the artificial tooth root, but also later, smoking significantly increases the risk of premature implant loss.
Can you describe the course of a treatment as an example?
First, I ask the patient about the loss of teeth and his wishes regarding the replacement: Does he want a fixed denture or something removable? We also talk about pre-existing conditions and taking medications. Then I examine the patient, take an X-ray and impressions of the jaw.
On the appropriate plaster models and with the help of X-rays, I can now plan the future dentures. If necessary, a professional dental cleaning will be carried out first and diseased teeth and gums will be treated. If there is too little bone in the implantation area, it must be built up before implantation.
Only after these "preliminary work" I use the artificial tooth root. Their position is specified by the planning template. The healing then takes between three and eight months and is regularly monitored. During this time, of course, the job may not be charged. Finally, I can then insert the implant post and the crown made on it. Overall, it takes a while for the patient to finally have his teeth. But it's worth it!
How should implanted teeth be cared for?
Very, very thorough. Because an inflammation always leads to the degradation of the bone - and then the artificial tooth root can no longer hold and must be taken out. Unfortunately, titanium, the most widely used material for implants, particularly attracts dental plaque. That's why careful cleaning is so important. In addition to the toothbrush, patients should also use special cleaning agents such as interdental brushes.
What lifespan do implants have?
With good care they last very long. As a rule of thumb, it is said that after 10 to 15 years, up to 90 percent of the implants remain firmly in the jaw.
What developments can be expected in implantation medicine in the future?
More and more often methods are used in which the later tooth crown is used directly during implantation. Then the patients have the same complete dentition. However, this increases the risk that the implant will not grow.
Great progress is also being made in bone augmentation. For example, different materials and processes accelerate growth. Certainly there will be some innovations here that will help to better care for patients in the future.