2 Technologies That Have Drastically Improved The Dental Implant Process

Living with missing teeth can be difficult, which is why you might be thinking about getting dental implants. Unfortunately, the minute you read that dental implants can take months to place and run a small risk of failing, you might start rethinking your decision to invest in implants. Fortunately, scientists and dental implant manufacturers are concerned about these same issues, which is why emerging dental implant technology is more exciting than ever. Here are two technologies that have drastically improved the dental implant process, and how to find out if your dentist uses these exciting new techniques:

1: Surface Treatments Using Nanotechnology

Sometimes man-made items are just a little too perfect, as was the case for older dental implants. Because dental roots feel smooth, older abutments and dental implants were created with pristine, smooth surfaces. However, new research has shown that bone tissue actually fuses better with textured, rough surfaces, which is why some dental implant manufacturers are experimenting with nanotechnology.

Using nanotechnology, scientists can etch the surface of the abutments to create a slightly roughened texture. Because rough areas contain a larger surface area, the bone can fuse with the anchor more thoroughly, creating a stronger hold in a shorter period of time. This bonding process, also called osseointegration, used to take as long as 6 months with traditional smooth implants, which meant that patients would have to wait for their permanent crowns and live with embarrassing dental fixtures protruding out of their jaw. However, with the advent of nanotechnology, the osseointegration process has been shortened to a staggering 6 weeks.

If you are considering dental implants, ask your dentist if he or she has access to roughened dental implants, or versions that have been resurfaced to anchor more effectively. You never know; by special ordering these custom implants, you might be able to enjoy a much shorter recovery time.

2: Cone Beam Imagery

Up until a few years ago, dentists and oral surgeons had to rely on simple two-dimensional X-Rays and panoramic images to shape, order, and place dental implants. Ultimately, this older imagery created a type of guessing game for physicians, which sometimes led to ill-fitting implants and unhappy patients. Fortunately, newer imaging technology has changed all of that.

Cone beam technology evolved from CAT scan technology, and it is capable of producing the same types of accurate images. Cone beam systems use a cone-shaped beam that is shot at a detector that rotates around the patient's head. These devices collect a series of "slice" images, which the system then uses to compile highly complex, three-dimensional images.

To top it off, the software used with cone-beam systems is easy for doctors to learn, and it helps them to place your implants more effectively. Because they can carefully review 3D images with a 1:1 aspect ratio, dentists can anticipate and address anatomical issues that could alter your implant results. For example, if the dentist notices that you have missing bone due to jaw reabsorption in the area where the implant needs to be placed, they might be able to recommend a bone graft early or alter the size of the implant.  

Also, since cone beam imaging systems feed directly to a computer, the technology makes it easy for dentists to evaluate and store your dental records. For example, your dentist might be able to take images from the day you get your implants, and then easily compare them to your progress six weeks later to make sure that you are healing properly. If you are worried about this technology increasing the cost of your implants, you shouldn't be. Believe it or not, cone beam systems are affordable for most dental practices, which can keep costs to a minimum for patients.

If you are interested in getting dental implants, talk with your dentist about what kind of imaging they use in their office. If they use cone beam technology and have access to roughened dental implants, you might be able to enjoy perfect-looking, comfortable implants in no time. Contact a company like The Center For Progressive Dentistry for more information.