Appearing on a recent episode of reality TV, periodontist and member of the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), Jeff Ganeles, DMD, showed how immediate loading dental implants transformed a patient's smile in just a few visits. This event gave Americans a look at the future of implant dentistry, making the thought of dentures primitive and traditional dental implants routine technology.
"Today, patients' expectations are much higher because of advances in technology and medicine," explains Ganeles. "They want treatment methods that not only eliminate disease but also replace defective parts and make them feel whole again. Removable solutions such as dentures and partials used to be generally accepted, but increasingly my patients insist on more instantly gratifying, permanent options such as immediate loading dental implants."
A dental implant, which looks like a small post or cylinder, is an artificial tooth root placed into the jaw to hold a replacement tooth, bridge, or denture in place. Using traditional dental implant methods and procedures, it typically takes two to six months for the bone and implant to bond together to form anchors (osseointegration). During this time, patients can wear a removable temporary tooth replacement option over the implant sites.
Improved technology affords some patients the luxury of immediate loading dental implants, whereby a periodontist places the implant immediately following tooth extraction and attaches a temporary fixed tooth replacement. "Although more research needs to be conducted, I have observed no complications during the healing period, and found that immediate loading implants can have notable advantages such as prevention of jawbone deterioration, reduced number of surgical procedures, reduction of treatment time, and better patient acceptance," states Ganeles.
"We've come a long way with tooth replacement technology," notes Michael P. Rethman, DDS, MS, and president of the AAP. "Today, the optimal solution for most patients is dental implants, and in some cases immediately loading implants."
This is good news for patients who experience sadness, depression and embarrassment with tooth loss because they have lost the comfort and confidence of a natural smile. "Many also find that dentures, bridges and other dental appliances come with problems of their own," Ganeles comments. "I've been told by my patients that getting implants changed their lives, making them look and feel younger and healthier."
Consequently, it's not just the "maturing" population that is electing implants to repair their smiles and restore their facial structure. In an online poll of periodontists, thirty-one percent report that half or more of the implants they place are for baby boomers � people ages 35 to 54, while forty-three percent state that more than half of the implants they place are for individuals between the ages 55 to 79. According to the poll, the top reasons for tooth loss leading to implant placement were periodontal diseases, tooth decay and accidents, violence or injuries.
Dental implants are intimately connected with the gum tissues and underlying bone in the mouth. Since periodontists are the experts who specialize in precisely these areas, they are ideal members of the dental implant team. Periodontists not only have experience working with other dental professionals: they also have special knowledge, training, innovation, and facilities that patients need to attain the natural looking and feeling smiles the want.
The American Academy of Periodontology is a 7,900-member association of dental professionals specializing in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease affecting the gums and supporting structures of the teeth and in the placement and maintenance of dental implants. Periodontics is one of nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association.
A referral to a periodontist and brochure entitled Dental Implants: Teeth That Look and Feel Just Like Your Own! are available by calling 1-800-FLOSS-EM, or visiting www.perio.org.