Doctor of Dental Surgery Kevin E. Hardy notes how baby boomers, now moving into life’s late stages, are driving up the popularity of dental implant surgery as an alternative to conventional tooth replacement methods.
The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) has indicated that 69% of adults ages 35 to 44 have lost at least one permanent tooth as a result of accident, gum disease, tooth decay or failed dental procedure. At least a quarter of all adults have lost all their permanent teeth by age 74, says the same report. Other statistical studies say that people over age 50 are missing 12 teeth on average.
As the baby boomer generation enters old age, many dental patients are seeking ways to restore those worn and torn smiles, often by introducing implants to replace missing teeth. Thanks to continual efforts to innovate and improve the field of dental surgery, patients now have better options than ever to restore their teeth—and their confidence.
For a long time, the foremost method for replacing missing teeth was the use of dentures, prosthetic devices that introduce “false teeth” supported by surrounding tissues. The oldest sample of a complete denture comes from the Kii Province in Japan, where a 16th century wooden denture was recovered, though the history of dentures dates even further. Porcelain dentures were introduced in Europe around 1770 and were typically manufactured by goldsmiths. Today’s dentures are designed from acrylic resin, a type of durable plastic.
However, patients are increasingly selecting alternative replacement procedures such as crowns, bridges and dental implants. Baby boomers in particular have shown a preference for implant-supported dentures because of the increased confidence and reduced damage to the mouth. Dental implants consist of a jawbone-anchored titanium post intended to support a false tooth or dentures.
With dental implants, the false teeth mount precisely to implant anchors that maintain the dentures’ tightness and position. Whereas regular dentures sit on and compress the tissue, implant-supported dentures do not. An additional bonus is the ability to eat more freely since the anchored dentures don’t slide. Even those who have lost all their teeth are once again enjoying their corn on the cob. The sturdiness of implant-mounted dentures also means the dentures won’t shift when the wearer is speaking, a source of embarrassment for many people with traditional dentures.
Dental implants can last as long as 25 years with proper care and hygiene. This also depends upon the quality of the implants; while Swedish manufactured implants have a success rate of 90%, Chinese-made implants tend to be less durable.
Although dental implants are most popular with the elderly, almost anyone with the need may receive the surgery. A few exceptions include patients with underdeveloped jawbones, patients with active diabetes or cancer and women who are pregnant or nursing. Deciding on the right cosmetic dental procedure for you is a process that should involve an experienced dental professional. Take care to choose a dentist with the right training and certification and to ask your dentist as many question as you can.
Kevin E. Hardy DDS is a board certified dentist and dental surgeon. He is an associate dentist with Hudec Dental in Cleveland, Ohio. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry. Dr. Hardy strives to provide the highest level of dental care through skillful diagnosis and treatment procedures. His positive and reassuring personality combined with his strong knowledge of dental practices lends comfort and confidence to his patients.