Dental implants. Role, benefits, success rate
Dental implant main purposes
The main objective of a dental implant supported restoration is the proper replacement of the missing teeth. All major dental processes will be performed by (or on) the dental implants, so one important goal is to rehabilitate these processes to a close to normal state.
Mastication or chewing process
Mastication is the most important dental process. When a restoration is designed, it is important to rehabilitate this process as closely as possible to natural teeth. When this goal is achieved, patient will adapt very quickly to the new restoration.
When an implant supported denture is manufactured, the chewing forces are passed to the surrounding bone just as in the case of natural teeth (see left image). Consequently, chewing comfort is excellent because dental implants function remarkably like natural teeth.
chewing forces in case of a dental implant
chewing forces in case of a removable dentures
By contrast, when a traditional denture is designed, some of the chewing forces are passed to the underneath gums as dentures usually rest exclusively on the gums. This is not the natural way, hence it takes longer to get used to a removable denture.
Restoring aesthetics is for many patients the most important goal. The general aesthetic of an implant supported reconstruction is great. A dental implant restores a lost tooth so that it looks, feels, fits and functions almost like a natural tooth.
restoring aesthetics with
two implant supported crowns
Phonation or pronunciation
The normal speech can be disturbed when front upper teeth are missing (particularly incisors). It is well known that these teeth have an important role in some consonants pronunciation.
Adjusting to traditional removable dentures can mean struggling to pronounce everyday words, at least until mouth tissues adapt to the new situation (which can take several weeks). Not so with dental implants, which function almost like natural teeth.
Dental implant advantages
The great advantage of a dental implant is that it replaces the missing tooth in the most natural way possible. This happens because implants "fuse" with the bone thanks to a biological process called osseointegration.
Thanks to this process, implant supported prostheses offer a variety of advantages (compared to conventional restorations).
Dental implants reduce the load on the remaining oral structures (teeth, gums, jawbone) by offering independent support and retention to crowns, bridges and removable dentures.
Tooth preparation involves permanently removing parts of the tooth's original structure, including portions that might still be healthy and structurally sound.
single tooth gap : if a traditional dental bridge is designed, the preparation of the adjacent teeth is required
single tooth gap : if an implant supported crown is manufactured, the adjacent teeth remain untouched
Dental implants will preserve bone and significantly reduce bone resorption and deterioration that results in loss of jawbone height.
Implant supported dentures may allow to chew the food better and speak more clearly. Studies have shown that these prostheses contribute to improved chewing efficiency and speaking, compared to full dentures.
implant supported denture
Dental implants drawbacks
A surgical procedure for implant placement and a period of healing is necessary before the prosthesis may be completed.
Dental implant procedures may entail an increase in cost compared to conventional dentistry.
Because of constant developments in the field of implantology, the success rate of dental implants has continually risen. In the presence of healthy tissues, a well integrated implant with appropriate biomechanical loads can have long term success rates of 93 to 98 percent for the fixture and 10 to 15 year lifespan for the prosthetic teeth.
Several factors can influence the success rate of dental implants :
The quality and quantity of the available bone : Implants placed in thicker, stronger bone have a higher success rate. Sometimes, adjunctive surgical procedures are performed to increase the height or width of the alveolar bone.
Case complexity : Young and healthy patients with relatively simple restorations (e.g. single tooth missing) have a higher success rate.
Oral hygiene and compliance with postoperative instructions and general maintenance : The success rate of dental implants will enormously drop if these measures are not properly conducted.
Quality of the medical practitioner : It goes without saying that more experienced physicians have a higher success rate.
Last review and update: February 2019