Not so far in the past, the only options for people who were missing teeth were bridges and dentures. Today, most dental patients are aware that dental implants are also an option. However, what you may not realize is that dental scientists are still working on more and better tooth replacement options. Between advances in dental implant technology and exciting ways to grow whole new teeth, tooth replacement technology is reaching new levels. Find out about some of the most interesting ways you may be able to replace missing teeth in the near future.
Tooth Implants in an Hour
You can already get photos developed or glasses made in an hour – why can't you also get new teeth implanted in an hour? You may be able to with a procedure known as guided zygomatic implants. These implants can be installed in an hour or two, as opposed to the more common implant process that requires two or three appointments to complete. In this procedure, your dentist will complete a 3D scan of your jaw that will allow him or her to guide the implant into place without invasive surgery. This process has been shown to be more than 90 percent successful in tests.
In addition to the faster installation process, guided zygomatic implants have the advantage of being able to be installed in the cheek bones rather than in the jaw bone. This opens up the possibility for people who have bone loss in the jaw – patients who previously may not have been candidates for implants – to also be able to benefit from permanent implants instead of being limited to dentures.
Most dental implants are successful, but occasionally implants do fail and have to be removed or replaced. Bacterial infections are one of the most common reasons for dental implant failure. To combat the possibility of implant failure due to bacterial infection, scientists are working on an implant option that can not only replace teeth, it can fight infection as well.
The answer may lie in nano-materials – specifically titanium dioxide nanotubes. These tiny titanium tubes can be used to coat the titanium posts that hold dental implants in place. They work by encouraging bone cell growth. Improving bone cell growth helps the jaw bone bond to the implanted posts and helps hold the new teeth in place. However, that's not all. The titanium nanotubes can also be used as a drug delivery system. They could be pre-loaded with anti-inflammatory medications or antibiotics, which could then be gradually released into the patient's system after implantation. Not only does this method of drug delivery target the specific area that most needs the medication, it also reduces the chances for the patient to experience medication side effects.
New Teeth From Stem Cells
You wouldn't need implants at all if you could just grow new teeth. However, everyone knows that you only get two sets of teeth: your baby teeth and your adult set. Growing more is out of the question, right? Maybe not anymore. Scientists have discovered the presence of dental stem cells in teeth, and have found that using lasers, they can trigger these stem cells to grow new teeth in lab rats, in a procedure that appears to be relatively risk-free.
Currently, scientists are working on ways that this procedure can be tested on humans. Tooth regrowth therapy may first make its way into dental offices as an alternative way to cap teeth or perform root canals, but eventually, the therapy could be used to replace whole teeth.
If you're in need of tooth replacement, ask your dentist for a dental implant consultation. The technology is improving all the time, and you may be a candidate for implants now, even if you weren't in the past. For more information, contact a local dental clinic, like Simanek Milan DDS & Associates.