What are Dental Implants?
Dental Implants should be thought of as a versatile option for replacing missing teeth. Typically, there are three parts to a dental implant restoration. First is the actual implant that connects to the jawbone and functions very much like the root of a natural tooth. Next is the abutment that connects the final tooth restoration (crown, bridge, denture, etc.) to the implant. Third is the final restoration that serves the function of the crown of a natural tooth.
Uses for Dental Implants
From replacing a single missing back tooth, to an esthetically critical missing front tooth, to a full arch or mouth of missing teeth, dental implants are often the best and most conservative treatment option for replacing missing teeth. If done properly, with attention to biomechanical and periodontal considerations, dental implants are the safest and most predictable way to replace missing teeth. They are also the only tooth replacement option that actually reduces the risk of loosing additional teeth. All other options (such as tooth supported removable partial dentures and fixed bridges) place additional stresses on the supporting teeth and often require removing healthy tooth structure from these teeth. In addition, they make oral hygiene (cleaning) more difficult. As a result, research has repeatedly demonstrated that there is an increased risk of loosing these teeth due to periodontal disease, fracture, or decay.
Our Experience and Beliefs Regarding Dental Implant Treatment
Dr. Hegyi’s experience with restoring dental implants dates back to the early 1980’s, long before implants were widely accepted by most dentists and the public. He quickly learned three very important characteristics of implants. The first was that strict adherence to biomechanical principles was critical– even more so than with natural teeth (see “Dental Biomechanical Harmony – the Key to Predictable Dental Comfort, Health, and Esthetics” and “Biomechanical Disharmony – Problems, Evaluation, and Treatment”). Because of the nature of the connection between the implant and jawbone (compared to that of a natural tooth root to the jawbone), failure to follow these principles can cause failure of the implant restoration or loss of the implant itself.
Second, he learned that, just as with natural teeth, attention to the health of the gums and bone around dental implants was critical. Like teeth, if not properly cared for, the gum and bone around implants can become unhealthy (a condition called peri-implantitis) (see “Periodontal Disease, Tooth Loss, and Whole Body Health”). Finally, he learned that dental implant treatment is most effectively and safely performed with a team approach. There are two distinct facets to dental implant treatment – the surgical placement of the implant(s) and the fabrication of the tooth or teeth restorations upon the implant(s). Because each of these facets is complex and requires very different skills and training, it is very difficult for one individual to be a master of both. Therefore, a team approach assures that every aspect of implant treatment is provided with the highest level of quality and experience possible. Dr. Hegyi committed himself to learning the skills necessary to design and place the teeth in the most functionally and esthetically manner possible. He then chose a select group of surgeons to assure that the implants were placed in as safe and ideal of manner as possible.
Together with one of these surgeons, Dr. Michael Morgan, Dr. Hegyi has had the honor of being selected as one of thirteen dentists in North America to work in an advisory role with one of the world’s leading dental implant designers and manufacturers – Thommen Medical from Grenchen, Switzerland. Together, Drs. Morgan and Hegyi have placed and/or restored more than ten thousand dental implants, in virtually every application imaginable. They are also actively involved with teaching other dentists around the world methods and techniques they have developed that make dental implant treatment a predictable and positive experience for the patient.