A few decades ago, dental patients only had removable dentures as an option for replacing missing teeth. However, dental implants have recently increased in popularity, and by performing CT scans, dentists now have an easier way to find out which patients are eligible for this treatment.
Dental implants can replace single or multiple missing teeth. They are comprised of artificial tooth roots typically made from titanium alloys and placed in the jawbone; these implants are later covered with a tooth-like cap made from dental porcelain. This procedure is possible through the process of osseointegration, where the jawbone is capable of healing around the metal implant to make it a permanent fixture in the patient’s mouth.
The procedure for dental implants has an overall 96% success rate, according to most sources, and the treatment provides the appearance and experience of a patient’s natural teeth. Before recent improvements in dental implant technology, though, this type of treatment was made difficult if the implant was not placed properly within the jawbone.
Advancements in dental implant surgery are now allowing for greater success rates when dentists perform a CT scan before the procedure. CT scans let dentists know which patients have an adequate amount of bone in the jaw necessary to support dental implants, so those with unhealthy jaws and gum tissue may receive alternative treatments.
A CT scan, or computerized tomography, combines computerized processing with a series of X-rays of a patient taken from multiple angles to create a cross-sectional image of the bones in a patient’s body. Dental surgeons can use these images to construct three-dimensional computer models of a patient’s teeth to determine where the implants should go.
Although CT scans have made it easy for dentists to perform this procedure, patients need to be aware of the treatment’s details. Most importantly, dental implants are a form of surgery, and dentists must follow precautions up front to ensure that a patient will have a successful treatment, such as performing a necessary exam and CT scan.
Additionally, many dental implant procedures can take up to eight to 10 months to complete because each tooth being replaced will receive its own implant and crown. However, there are similar treatments available with reduced healing time, and these may not require as many implants or will use less invasive implants.
One option is to receive six-month dental implants, which only place four implants throughout a patient’s jaw to be covered by multiple crowns. An alternative treatment is the use of mini dental implants, sometimes known as teeth in a day or subperiosteal implants, which sit on the bone rather than inside the jaw and are acceptable for patients whose jaws will not accept traditional implants.
Patients seeking dental implants should be sure to find a dentist who can recommend the correct procedure for replacing missing or decayed teeth. Above all, patients should expect a CT scan beforehand to ensure that they receive the correct treatment.