Humans, unlike most animals, only have two sets of teeth to function for their entire lifetime – the temporary and permanent ones. We all lose our 20 temporary teeth when we reach adolescence, and they are replaced by 32 permanent teeth that will stay with us during our lifetime. So maintenance and preservation of these teeth should be treated with utmost importance. But, unfortunately, some of us are not very lucky in maintaining their full set of teeth and may need dental procedures to restore or replace them. This is where restorative and missing teeth replacement procedures come in. Who could better offer these than prosthodontists? But have you heard of a professional called a dental implants specialist? How is he different from a prosthodontist or an oral surgeon?
Dental implants: An overview
What better way to understand and recognize a dental implants specialist than to know the dental procedure that they are identified with. Dental implants are restorative dental appliances that are surgically placed to replace missing teeth. In fact, many dentists regard dental implants as the gold standard of restorative dentistry and are the most innovative procedure for teeth replacement.
Benefits of dental implants
Let us discover why it is the best option that you can get in order to address a missing tooth.
Dental implants are permanent. Unlike removable dentures and bridges, a dental implant is comprised of a metal post (often made of titanium) that is surgically embedded to the jaw to act as the tooth root. An abutment or connector attaches this post to the crown that is customized to specifically mimic the exact shape, color, and size of the missing tooth. Put them together and you will get a stable and permanent tooth replacement that could last you for 10-15 years with proper care.
Dental implants maintain the health of the jawbones. There are studies that show jaw bone loss when a tooth gets extracted from the jaw bone and the restorative procedure a patient utilizes is a denture or a bridge/crown. The bone loss oftentimes causes the dentures to become ill-fitting as years pass by. Getting dental implants is shown to improve the health of the jawbone and its density since the regeneration of bone cells is encouraged so that the implant fuses permanently to the bone itself.
Dental implants are natural-looking. Because dental implants are surgically embedded to the jaw like real teeth, the look and feel of the tooth replacement appliances are very close to that of the natural teeth. Once the dental implants are stable, their use and look can be the same as that of your real teeth, with minimal special precaution needed because, of course, don’t forget that they are still not your real teeth. Now, you can show off that bright smile and speak your heart out without even getting conscious about how your teeth will look like.
Risks of getting implants
Although this procedure is a specialized and one of the most highly-regarded dental procedures, there are still risks and complications, no matter how rare, accounted from a dental implant surgery. Here are some of the reported risks a patient has to put into mind when planning on getting dental implants.
- Risk of infection from the surgical site
- Damage to the surrounding structures like the neighboring teeth, blood vessels, nerves, or gums.
- Nerve injury that may cause pain or numbness
- Problems with the sinuses caused by dental implant surgery on the upper arch of the teeth
Dental implant surgeon: Who is he?
Now that we have basic knowledge what dental implants, why they are deemed the best replacement teeth procedure, and what the risks are for getting them, it is now important for us to discover who to go to when planning to get dental implants. Who is this dental implants specialist and how is he different from the regular general dentists that we know?
A dental implants specialist is a collective term for dental specialists who are licensed and trained to perform dental implant surgery. Although there are some general dentists who claim that they, too, are capable of fixing your missing teeth and providing you with dental implants, we would suggest that you consult and seek the services of specially-trained dental specialists so that the safety and integrity of this restorative procedure.
There are three dental specialists that we can recommend who can effectively provide you with dental implants.
- Oral surgeon. Dental implant surgery is, well, a surgery after all. An oral surgeon (oral maxillofacial surgeon or OMFS) is a good option as your chosen dental implants specialist because he has performed numerous dental surgeries in his practice. His efficiency and expertise in manipulating the jaws and other dental structures that are affected in the implant surgery can come in handy. Teeth extraction, jaw surgery, and other dental procedures like bone grafting are usual procedures encountered by oral surgeon, so it is no surprise that dental implant surgery is just a piece of cake for him
- Periodontist. Your dentist would recommend that you see a periodontist if you have serious problems with your gums that could easily affect your teeth and the overall health of your mouth. Because your dental implants are embedded in the jaw bone and the gums are affected by this procedure, a gum specialist is also considered to be a dental implants specialist.
- Prosthodontist. Because a dental implant is both a restorative and a cosmetic dentistry procedure, a prosthodontist is also eligible to perform your dental implant surgery. Tooth replacement procedures are the forte of these dental specialists. After the metal post or the implant has been integrated and fused to the bone, the crown that replicates the size, shape, and color of the original tooth gets connected to it, and this serves as the prosthetic aspect of the dental implant. Who can better perform such a tooth replacement procedure than a prosthodontist, right?
Why is finding a licensed specialist important?
The answer to this question is very simple; you need to find and trust the best dental implants specialist for your own safety and satisfaction. Let’s put it this way – would you let a nurse perform your surgery? Yes, she is medically-inclined to know what you need, but is she trained to perform such risky, invasive, and life-threatening procedures? No. The same way goes to dentists and dental implants specialist. Yes, dentists know the ins and outs of your dental health, and although they may claim that they can do it on their own, only a dental implants specialist can get the job done safely and effectively. Of course, the efficiency and long-lasting outcome of the procedure would also rely on how experienced your dental specialist is, so your satisfaction with the procedure and the appliance itself lies in the expertise of your chosen professional practitioner.