Eric C. Weiss, D.M.D. is a Diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology, a Fellow of the International Team for Implantology (ITI), a Fellow of the American College of Dentists (ACD), A Fellow of The International College of Dentists (ICD), a Diplomate of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists (ICOI) and has been practicing periodontics and implant dentistry since 1992. He received both his B.A. & D.M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, and completed a residency in periodontics at Temple University. Dr. Weiss is a Clinical Assistant Professor at The University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine and an Adjunct Professor at Rutgers School of Dental Medicine. He is also an attending periodontist at Newark Beth Israel and St. Barnabas Medical Centers. He practices in Livingston, NJ.
A Dental Implant is an artificial tooth root that is placed into the upper or lower jaw to replace a missing tooth or teeth. It is often done via Computer Guided Surgery and is 100% biocompatible (the same material as hip and knee replacements). A periodontist places the implants, and the patient’s dentist restores the implant (attaches the teeth).
Dental Implants can be an option for those who have lost a tooth or multiple teeth for various reasons such as; periodontal disease or an injury.
There are three parts to a dental implant. The implant itself is a titanium screw or anchor that fuses to the patients bone after a period of healing (typically 2 to 4 months). An abutment which attaches the tooth or teeth to the implant. Usually, the periodontist places a temporary abutment, and the restoring dentist places the final abutment. And finally, the replacement tooth or teeth which are either screwed or cemented to the abutments.
Holistic Dentistry is on the rise due to an increase in our population suffering from allergies, metal hypersensitivities and compromised immune systems.
Over the years, research has linked periodontal disease with multiple medical issues. We know oral bacteria can travel to other parts of our bodies in the bloodstream, which puts patients at further risk for Heart Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, High Blood Pressure, Stroke, Alzheimer’s and Dementia, Diabetes and even Cancer.
Today, we’re finding more and more patients being proactive with regards to their overall health and well-being. We understand getting dental implants can be an overwhelming experience for our patients, especially those concerned with putting anything foreign in their bodies. It’s important to know the makeup of dental implants and the alternatives that exist in the dental industry today.
Single tooth implants (especially in the front of the mouth) are often the most difficult and require extensive experience to manage the challenges to maintaining the appropriate esthetics of not just the tooth but also the gum tissues around that tooth. Often a single tooth that has been damaged or needs replacement can be replaced with an implant and restored with a tooth on the same day. There are many aspects to replacing a single tooth that necessitate experience and training and the proper diagnostic techniques.
It is a very predictable procedure, with few side effects and little risk. The benefits are outstanding – we are able to place implants where they otherwise could not be placed.
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is caused by a buildup of a sticky film of bacteria, called plaque, which collects on the surface of the teeth. In time, plaque hardens into tarter or calculus – a tough, gritty substance that can be removed only by professional cleaning.
When calculus builds up over time – due to improper brushing, infrequent visits to the dental professional, or other factors – the gums can become infected. Eventually, the disease can break down the tiny fibers and bone that connect your teeth to your jaw. In the past, the only therapy for periodontal disease was to try to stop the disease from progressing, and hope it was not too late to save your teeth.
Now, we have several treatment modalities available that can aid us in regenerating lost bone and gum tissue around previously diseased teeth. Typically, this involves using biologic agents such as Enamel Matrix Derivatives and Platelet Derived Growth Factors. You can read more about this in the Guided Tissue Regeneration section.
Ceramic dental implants are essentially identical to traditional titanium dental implants with the exception they are made of a ceramic or glass-like substance. There is no metal in these implants which is a big advantage for people who prefer to have non-metallic implants placed. Ceramic implants have been used in Europe for many years and are FDA approved here in the United States. We have seen excellent success using ceramic implants in our practice.
We let the patient decide on a case-by-case basis as the zirconia and titanium dental implants are equally successful and we’re confident in using both styles. Occasionally, the titanium dental implant is preferable because there are currently more options, parts, and pieces available to us to handle very complex restorative issues. However, that only exists in a minority of our cases.
A ceramic dental implant is identical in its function to a titanium dental implant in that it is replacing the root portion of the tooth or teeth that are missing. The implant is placed into the upper or lower jawbone and allowed to heal (integrate) into the bone for a period of time – generally three months – at which time the patient is then referred back to their restorative dentist to have their teeth or tooth fabricated to be placed on top of the implant. The time that we wait is for osseointegration to occur, which is when the surrounding bone fuses to the wall of the ceramic implant and locks it in place so then it can function like any other permanent tooth.
There is no disadvantage to using a zirconia ceramic implant over a titanium dental implant. The benefit is that we can provide an equally successful option to replace teeth for patients who prefer non-metallic implants. A secondary benefit is that ceramic implants are generally white in color. In situations where the gum is very thin and on occasion there can be some shine through to the implant surface, a white implant surface will look more tooth-like than a traditional titanium surface which has more gray coloring.