Our Dental Blog

Posts for tag: dental implants

By Carol A. Cunningham, DDS
April 04, 2019
Category: Oral Health
WhyYouShouldFlossAroundtheImplantsSupportingYourBridge

We've been using bridges to replace missing teeth for decades. Now, recently-developed implant-supported bridges are even more dependable, promising greater durability and less interference with remaining natural teeth.

But just like other restorations, you'll need to keep implant bridges clean to ensure their longevity. Although both the bridge and implants are impervious to disease, the supporting gums and bone aren't. If they become infected, they can break down and your restoration will fail.

Cleaning an implant-supported bridge includes flossing around each of the implants to remove dental plaque, a thin film of food particles and bacteria most responsible for dental disease. To perform this task, you'll have to pass the floss between the bridge and gums to access the sides of each implant.

To help make it easier, you can use a tool like a floss threader, a thin, shaft-like device with a loop on one end and a needle-like point on the other. You'll first thread about 18" of floss through the end and then pass the threader between the bridge and gums with the sharp end toward the tongue.

With the threader completely through, you'll then wrap the floss around your fingers as with regular flossing and move the floss up and down each side of the implants you can access. You'll then pull the floss out, reload the threader and move to the next section, repeating this process until you've flossed each side of each implant.

You can also use pre-cut floss with a stiffened end to thread between the bridge and gums or an interproximal brush with a thin bristled head that can reach underneath the bridge. And you might consider using an oral irrigator, a pump device that sprays a stream of pressurized water to remove and flush away plaque around implants.

To round out your hygiene efforts, be sure you visit your dentist at least twice a year for dental cleanings. Your dentist can also advise you and give you training on keeping your implants clear of disease-causing plaque. Cleaning around your implants will help ensure your restoration will last.

If you would like more information on caring for your dental restoration, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Hygiene for Fixed Bridgework.”

By Carol A. Cunningham, DDS
January 14, 2019
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  
ImmediateImplantsHelpyouAvoidDisruptionsinYourAppearance

Dental implants are widely recognized as the best tooth replacement option available. For most people, though, it’s a long process: after a tooth is extracted the socket is allowed to heal and fill in with new bone before implant surgery: that can take anywhere from two to five months. Afterward, there’s usually a two– to three–month period after the implant is placed before the permanent crown (the visible tooth) can be attached.

Without adequate bone present the implant’s long-term stability might be compromised. Furthermore, the implant’s durability is dependent upon bone growth around and attaching to its titanium post after surgery in a process known as osseo-integration. These two considerations indeed serve a critical function in the implant’s ultimate success.

In recent years, however, a variation to this traditional implant process has emerged that allows for immediate implantation right after extraction. Besides combining extraction and implantation into one surgical procedure, immediate implants minimize the disruption to a person’s appearance (especially with visibly prominent front teeth) when combined with a provisional crown.

Immediate implants joined together that replace a full arch of teeth can receive biting forces and succeed. Individual implants that replace single teeth, however, won’t work in all situations and must be undertaken with care to ensure long-term success. Because there may be less available bone, the implant must fit snugly within the socket to maintain as secure a hold as possible. The surgeon must also take care not to damage too much of the gum and bone tissue when extracting the tooth, which could affect both the integrity of the implant and its appearance in the gum line.

Temporary crowns may be attached during the implant surgery, but they’re installed for appearance’ sake only. For individual crowns, they must be designed not to make contact with the teeth on the opposing jaw to avoid generating biting forces that will cause the implant to fail and stop the bone-healing process that occurs with osseo–integration.

If you’re considering dental implants, it’s important to discuss with us which type of procedure, traditional or immediate, would be best for you, and only after a comprehensive examination of your mouth and jaw structure. Regardless of the approach, our goal is to provide you with a smile-transforming restoration that will last for many years to come.

If you would like more information on the dental implant process, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Immediate Implants.”

By Carol A. Cunningham, DDS
January 04, 2019
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  
DentalImplantsBetterthanEverthankstoOngoingTechAdvances

While many people still consider dental implants the "new kids on the block" in dental restoration, they're now in their fourth decade of use. And since their inception implant technology has continued to improve and revolutionize how we replace missing teeth.

Implants are a different "species" compared to other restoration methods. To be precise, an implant is a tooth root replacement—usually a titanium metal post imbedded directly into the jaw bone. Titanium is not only a biocompatible metal, but bone cells naturally grow on its surface to create a strong and durable hold. It's this secure hold that's most responsible for implants' high long-term success rate.

But we should also credit some of this success to the steady stream of advances over the years in implant construction and supporting technologies. For one thing, we're now more accurate and precise with implant placement thanks to advances in computer tomography (CT) and cone beam CT (CBCT) scanning.

These digital processes merge a series of images taken by a special camera to form a three-dimensional model of the jaw. We can manipulate this model on a computer monitor to view it from different vantage points. It can help us locate and avoid anatomical structures like nerves and sinuses when determining where to place a future implant. CT and CBCT are especially useful when there's a concern about adequate available bone, a necessity for stable implants.

Technology has also improved how we create surgical guides, often used during implant surgery to obtain the most accurate results. Surgical guides are custom-made devices that fit over the teeth with the drilling locations for the implants marked on them. Recent advances in 3-D printing have made these guides even more accurate so that they fit more securely in the mouth. This greater stability increases their accuracy during the drilling sequence during surgery.

These and other advances are helping ensure every implant is a success story. The end result is both a functional restoration and a beautiful smile.

If you would like more information on dental implants, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “How Technology Aids Dental Implant Therapy.”

By Carol A. Cunningham, DDS
July 02, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures

No one wants to lose a tooth, but it happens. Maybe it's that tooth that had multiple fillings, two root canals, and then, it just failed. Or, a cardental implants accident knocked out a tooth, and your dentist could not save it. Whatever the reason for your smile gaps, dental implants can address them with lifelike appearance and outstanding oral function. Dr. Carol Cunningham places dental implants at Gentle Art of Dentistry in Decatur, IL.

The amazing dental implant

It really is wonderful because this artificial tooth offers numerous benefits which other tooth replacements cannot. Placed directly into a patient's jaw bone, one or more dental implants:

  • Restore normal biting and chewing
  • Protect the size and density of bone and gum tissue
  • Look just like the real thing
  • Feel just like the real thing
  • Last for decades
  • Rarely need replacement
  • Do not need anchorage to adjoining natural teeth

How can a dental implant consisting of a titanium screw, metal post, and porcelain crown do all that? The secret operative is a natural process called osseointegration.

Research shows that human bone is attracted to the titanium metal in the implant. After implant surgery, the bone adheres to the device, creating an immovable foundation for the rest of the artificial tooth. Only a healthy natural tooth is stronger than a dental implant, and osseointegration practically guarantees success, says the International Congress of Oral Implantologists.

Dental implants are versatile

As sad as it is, sometimes people lose more than one tooth. Accidental loss, gum disease, and decay rob people of the smiles which once made them feel confident in their appearance, speech, and ability to bite and chew.

Dr. Cunningham in Decatur carefully evaluates her patients who have lost teeth. Visual inspection and X-rays tell her if a patient has enough jaw bone to accept one or multiple implants as needed. Yes, today's implants, placed in strategic locations in the jaw bone, can accept prosthetics such as fixed bridgework or even a full set of dentures.

Keeping implants healthy

Recent dental implants have rougher surfaces than earlier devices. This roughness speeds osseointegration which is key to implant success.

Also, proper hygiene is key--daily and meticulous flossing around implant sites and twice daily brushing with a low abrasive toothpaste keeps gums pink and intact.

Finally, what you put in your mouth determines implant health. Eat a low-carb, high-fiber diet, and drink plenty of water every day. Also, avoid tobacco--both the smokeless variety and cigarettes, too. Tobacco contains toxins which harm gums, and the heat from cigarette smoke actually burns soft oral tissues and degrades underlying bone.

You'll love your dental implant

So lifelike, comfortable, and functional, the dental implant helps millions of people regain their smiles. For an implant consultation with Dr. Cunningham, please call her office in Decatur, IL, at (217) 422-7448.

By Carol A. Cunningham, DDS
May 19, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants   diabetes  
DentalImplantsandDiabetes

Today, dental implants are an increasingly popular option for replacing lost teeth — an issue faced by many older Americans. It’s not hard to see why these high-tech prosthetic teeth are preferred: They look, “feel” and function just like natural teeth… and with proper care they can last the rest of your life. Unfortunately, many people who could benefit from implants also face an additional health problem: diabetes, a metabolic disease that can affect many different parts of the body, sometimes severely.  Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to nerve and tissue damage, and may adversely impact your oral health. So if you have diabetes, does it mean you won’t be able to get dental implants? 

The short answer is no — but there are some considerations that diabetics (and their health care providers) need to keep in mind. For example, it has been demonstrated that wounds in diabetics tend to heal more slowly, and are more prone to infection than those in non-diabetics. Also, people with diabetes sometimes experience a chronic inflammatory response, which can eventually lead to tissue damage or other problems.

Because the placement of dental implants requires minor surgery, dentists and researchers have questioned whether people with diabetes are good candidates for implants. Now there’s encouraging news: Several recent studies have come to the conclusion that many diabetics can indeed undergo an implant procedure without undue risk.

One key consideration is how well an individual can control his or her blood glucose levels. Researchers have found that diabetics with good blood glucose control, those with poor glucose control, and non-diabetics all have similar implant success rates (above 95%). However, in diabetics with poor glucose control, more time may be needed for the jawbone to heal in the area where the implant procedure was done. That doesn’t by any means rule out the placement of a dental implant — but it does mean that special considerations apply to individuals in this situation.

So if you are considering an implant procedure but have trouble controlling your blood glucose levels, ask us how we can help. Just remember that in most cases, having diabetes doesn’t mean you won’t be able to enjoy the benefits of dental implants. If you have additional questions, contact us or schedule an appointment.