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In our last story, we learned that as good as dental implants are these days, they should never be a replacement for a natural tooth by choice. But Dr. Fred Guerra, DMD with Guerra Dental in Colorado Springs tells me, even if you take impeccable care of your teeth and gums you may still find yourself missing a tooth or teeth and in need of implants.
You can lose a tooth for many reasons. It can be as simple as wear and tear over the years and having a tooth crack, or you might lose a number of teeth as part of an accident. If you find yourself in this situation there are some important questions you should ask your dentist *if he recommends implants for you.
Dr. Guerra says before the procedure you should ask your dentist about his treatment plan. “You might want to know if your dentist has the type of X-ray where he can show you the implant on a screen before they do it and give you the details of a treatment plan.”
Dental cone beam computed tomography (CT) is a special type of X-ray equipment used when regular dental or facial x-rays are not sufficient. Dr. Guerra explains, “That type of X-ray will provide not only the bone volume but also the bone quality and density that the implant will go into. Bone comes in all different kinds of density and quality and you want to have enough bone density to support your implant.”
Dr. Guerra says you should also ask your dentist if he has the right type of implant for the teeth you're missing. “Implants come in numerous sizes, implants may come anywhere from 1.8 mm up to 8 mm. That's a huge differential in size and they are all designed to do different things. Someone might hear an advertisement out there for mini implants, and that might be a less invasive procedure, but that implant might not be the best for a molar that is taking a huge amount of biting force.”
It’s doubtful any of us would ever walk into a car dealership, and simply say I need a car and take what they give you. Dr. Guerra says the same principle applies to implants. “What patients really need to know is that there are over 250 implant manufacturers out there. So it can be like buying a car, in that you want to ask and make sure that your dentist uses a high-quality implant with high standards of manufacturing.”
Implants are also now a standard of care when it comes to dentures which generally means a little more work on the front end - but you won't ever have to worry about pastes, powders, or adhesive pads to keep those dentures in place.
Dr. Guerra says “Patients that have dentures and aren't happy with them may want to look into implants that are placed to support dentures. In 2021, it has become a standard of care. Past generations had dentures and no implants, today people that have dentures want some implants to hold them in. It's an increase in quality of life for those patients.”
Finally, Dr. Guerra says he avoids the word permanent when it comes to dentistry in general - but says when implants are properly placed, they are extremely predictable and long-lasting. Another question you should ask your dentist about would be any personal risk factors when it comes to implants.
Dr. Guerra explains, “Implants can fail. There's not a dentist out there that has been placing implants that haven't had some failures. That may be due to some of the patient's medical conditions they have going on that just don't allow them to have that implant integrated - or become fused with the bone. There could be other reasons for failure, for example, someone has had extensive gum disease where they were pre-disposed to bacteria attacking the implant.”
If you have questions, make sure to follow up with your dentist and Dr. Guerra says you can always feel free to contact Guerra Dental for a consultation.
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