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FIX BRIDGE OR DENTAL IMPLANTS

By: Dr. Juan Carlos Buitrago – 

Even though the branch of dentistry called “Dental Implants” is not considered to be one of the six dental specialties, it has become so relevant in our daily practice of dentistry that it could be shortly the number seven dental specialty.  Dental implants are the Standard of Care and represent one of the most indicated procedures today.  They provide the only way to replace a tooth without having to fabricate a fixed bridge which implies the “shaving” of the two teeth adjacent to the one to be replaced.

 

Until recently a fixed bridge was considered to be a permanent treatment; today, at least in my office, is considered a long-duration temporary procedure.  In my opinion, no dentist would guarantee a fixed bridge for more than five years due to its disadvantages like the difficulty and impossibility to use dental floss to clean it.  This explains the fixed bridges susceptibility to various lesions on the support teeth or abutments.  A cavitated abutment potentially represents the loss of the bridge.

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Talk to your dentists, consult your case and consider your treatment options before agreeing to have a risky and expensive fixed bridge placed in your mouth. 

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In most instances, dental implants should be placed immediately after the extraction of the teeth to be replaced.  Immediate replacement is done to preserve the bone thickness as well as the architecture of the soft tissues. Also, patients will have one surgical appointment which is convenient and appreciated by the patient.

 Mini dental implants (MDI) versus conventional dental implants. 

It is important to between mini dental implants (MDI) and conventional dental implants.  Do not be impressed by commercial ads showing implants at extremely low cost, hey could be talking about MDIs which originated as a temporary implant to support dental prosthesis while the “real implants” osseointegrated (“became one” with the bone).  Due to their success, MDIs have erroneously been used more often as permanent ones, but in actuality, their use should be restricted to very specific clinical situations.

 

An implant with less than 3 millimeters of diameter is considered to be a mini dental implant.  They are fabricated as a single unit with the abutment not allowing the convenience of changing their direction once placed; their stability is much less when compared to that of implants that have a diameter of 3 or more millimeters.  When the bone thickness is not enough to receive a conventional dental implant, a bone graft procedure is required to increase the bone thickness and guarantee the placement and success of the implant.

 

The use of dental implants is widely known and indicated due to their effectiveness, safety, and longevity.  Today they are the treatment of choice to replace teeth of severe or uncertain prognosis.  People used to invest large amounts of money and time trying to save a tooth.  Today we plot “cost” versus “duration. ” Analysis tells us that implants are more cost effective, so the final decision is made regarding treatment: Extraction of questionable tooth and placement of an implant.

 

Dental implants are here as a better choice over partial dentures, fixed bridges, and undesirable dental spaces to be permanently restored with a high degree of aesthetics.

 

As mentioned earlier, bone loss can be aided by the use of bone grafts.  New techniques combine the use of freeze-dry bone along with the use of blood components obtained from the patient.  This technique is a new approach to tissue regeneration, a valuable adjunct to promote healing.  It is called Platelet rich plasma and contains growth factors that favorably influence wound healing.

 

The use of dental implants is effective and long-lasting dental treatment alternative.

 

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