Dental Implants Best for Seniors

As people age, many kinds of health problems can arise. This also includes dental problems. A common dental problem for seniors is missing teeth. Having missing teeth is not just a cosmetic issue, but also can affect your quality of life and overall health. Missing teeth cause improper chewing and eating and thus impair your health in other ways.

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The common and long time used solution for missing teeth has been dentures, either full or partial. While there may work good for many people, they are not ideal. Because they are not permanently attached to your mouth, there are often problems of slippage, discomfort, and cleaning issues. A more modern and better solution is dental implants. This is a device that replaces not just the missing teeth, but also the roots. They are permanently attached into your mouth by being anchored into your jawbone. Once this is done, it’s like having your own healthy teeth back. You will be able to freely and properly eat all the food that often is problematic with dentures.

Exactly what kind of dental implants and procedures are best for you is based on your individual situation. This is largely determined by a comprehensive exam by a qualified dental professional. Below the basic types, components, and procedures regarding dental implants are discussed.

Dental-Implants

Endosteal Implants

This is the most common type of dental implant used today. Endosteal implants have three kinds of sub-types: threaded, cylinder types (smooth) or bladed types. Your prosthodontist (the dental professional who performs dental implants), can help determine which specific type of dental implant will work best for you. Endosteal implants have been shown to be safe and effective and thus are the most popular choice used today.

The surgical procedure for endosteal implants begins by first drilling into the jawbone to insert a titanium screw – which serves as an artificial root and permanent anchor. This procedure requires about two months of time, as you must wait for the soft tissue and bone to heal around the implanted roots. However, the prolonged procedure is usually worth the time involved, as endosteal implants are well known for having one of the most stable, natural-feeling results.

Subperiosteal Implants

Endosteal implants discussed above, require a healthy and sufficiently sized jawbone to work. If you have a narrow jawbone ridge or one that is short or narrowed and worn down due to trauma or disease, you might not have enough jawbone density and strength needed to properly support an endosteal implant. If this is the case, a subperiosteal implant may be needed.

Subperiosteal implants are placed on the jawbone – within the gum tissue, with the metal implant post exposed through the gums to hold the false teeth. The surgical procedure used for subperiosteal implants is often completed in two appointments and thus is usually a far shorter treatment plan than with an endosteal implant. However, subperiosteal implants don’t have the same level of stability of endosteal implants since the implant doesn’t go into the jawbone, but rather rests on top of the bone and is held in place by only soft tissue.

Implant Coatings

While the bulk of the actual implant will most likely be made of titanium, its outer surface can vary. The reason a coating is used is because by increasing the surface roughness, the implant area can heal more completely and become stronger. A porous surface contributes to more bone contact than a plain titanium surface. Possible surfaces include a grit-blasted or acid-etched and roughened surface, a microgroove or plasma-sprayed titanium surface, a plasma-sprayed hydroxyapatite coating, or Zirconia. Zirconia is often favored because it’s typically very white and ceramic like in its appearance unlike plain titanium and many other surface coatings.

Implant Sizes

When it comes to dental implants, one size does not fit all. Because every mouth is different, individual spacing and bone availability creates the need for different sized implants. There are three basic sizes of dental implants:

– Standard Platform: Standard size dental implants are shorter and narrower to match the size of the teeth at the front of the mouth. They range in size from 3.5 mm to 4.2 mm in diameter.

– Wide Platform: Wide platform dental implants range in size from 4.5 mm to 6 mm in diameter and are placed primarily in the back of the mouth.

– Mini or Narrow Body: If there isn’t sufficient space between the existing teeth, the prosthodontist may choose to use a mini or narrow body implant.

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