While dental implants are one of the best treatments we’ve come up with in dentistry, sometimes you’ll hear your dentist talk about whether “you’re a good candidate.” What does this mean? Before we can answer that, let’s take a closer look at a dental implant.
In general, an implant is a titanium post anchored in the bone with a crown connected on top, like this.
Like our natural teeth, the implant needs plenty of bone for support. When a patient loses a tooth there is also some bone loss and the more bone lost, the more difficult the implant becomes.
Here are two things we are considering when placing implants in these difficult cases:
1. Just how deep can you place that implant looking for good bone? We don’t just have an endless supply of support below our teeth. Sooner or later you’re going to run into something. The most common limits are either a sinus (on an upper implant),
or a nerve (on a lower implant).
2. If we can finally find good bone deeper, is the crown going to be too long? Just because we can find bone in some cases, it doesn’t mean that we should place an implant there. Remember the crown has a place it has to fit in the bite, so the further away the implant is, the longer the crown has to be. Imagine building a 20 foot fence around your yard, but only having posts that are 1 foot in the ground. You may be able to put it in, but it won’t last long!
These are all very common situations that arise when we are dealing with implants. After all, in many cases if there was enough bone the patient would still have the original tooth. Because we see this so often, we have developed many ways to address these deficiencies and bone grafting is an excellent way to rebuild the necessary support.
One of the biggest advantages we have in dentistry today, is to be able to look inside xrays and see where these vital structures are with a 3D xray like I talked about in last week’s post (click here to see that post).
Let us know if we can help you see if you are a candidate for implants, by contacting us here.