Dental implants good, also could last lifetime | Guest Columns

People ask me all the time, is it worth it? Am I too old to get one? What is an implant?

Every time, I have the same answer: yes, they are worth it. They really are that good.

When I graduated from Case Western University Dental School in Cleveland in 1990, implants were beginning to become popular. We had other ways to replace missing teeth with bridges, partials or dentures. Back then, the success rate was high, and ever since, it has climbed to 98%. Implants were the last resort, but now, because they are that good, are the top pick.

Dental implants are a permanent replacement of a tooth that is integrated into the jawbone. Usually, it is less painful than having a tooth extracted. Once it becomes integrated into the jaw, in three to four months, we then attach the crowns to the implant. It feels, looks and functions exactly like the original tooth, and is unable to get a cavity.

Implants are placed or restored daily in most dental offices. Dental implants can be placed on any patient of any age, ranging from teenagers to one 100-year-olds.

Dental implants not only serve an aesthetic purpose but are also commonly used by patients to replace missing molars. Once the implant is placed into the jaw, the implant keeps the bone stimulated. The jawbone with no tooth or implant will shrink or wither away.

If the patient opts for a two-appointment procedure, a more precise placement of the implant can be obtained. The dentist uses an individualized, 3D-printed plastic guide to accurately position and place the implant. These types of procedures are typically executed within three weeks.

Dentists are even able to do single-day implants surrounding immediate needs, ending with a temporary crown. Many times, patients arrive with a cracked front tooth and need it fixed quickly. The remaining tooth is removed, the implant placed, and the temporary crown attached. Three to four months later, only the permanent crown is needed.

For any placement of an implant, a 3D scan is required, giving the dentist a precise representation of where to place the implant. During the procedure, local anesthesia is used. The patient is usually in and out of the office within an hour, with minimal discomfort and aftercare needed.

The majority of dental implants are made with titanium, making it the best material for the body to fuse with. This makes the implant extremely durable and long-lasting. With proper brushing, flossing, and scheduled cleanings, dental implants could last a lifetime.

Dr. Rick Rzepka is dentist and owner of Rzepka Dental in Beachwood.

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