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Dental implants a viable option for many

Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014

Health problems are never wanted, but dental issues can pack a double whammy. In addition to the discomfort and mechanical issues they cause, problems involving missing or damaged teeth can be a cosmetic dilemma as well.

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    Dr. Terry Major standing in front of the CT Scanner.

One solution to several problems involving teeth and dentures has been around for a while but is becoming more and more commonplace: the dental implant. In essence, dental implants are replacement tooth roots, and they have many benefits.

“Dental implants are what we use now to replace missing teeth or secure dentures into place,” said Dr. Terrence Major, dentist at Chattanooga Dental Care. “One of the problems you see with dentures is there’s not a lot of retention, and they tend to move around while you’re eating. But with implants, we can attach the dentures to the series of implants, and [the patient] can chew with confidence.”

Unlike removable dentures, the presence of dental implants means dentures don’t need to be removed or kept in place with adhesives, which can be both annoying and embarrassing to wearers.

There are also several advantages to using dental implants for individual missing or broken teeth, said Major. This is a dental problem that millions of Americans live with due to injury, gum disease or tooth decay, and for years, the go-to solution has been tooth-supported bridges. Bridges can still be a good option, but there are some drawbacks.

“With a bridge, you have to cut down the teeth on either side of the space,” he said. “But with an implant, you don’t have to attach it to any other teeth.”

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    Dr. Terry Major looks at a scan on the computer from the CT Scanner.

This keeps as many teeth as possible intact, which is better for the patient’s oral health in the long run, he explained. It also allows for better access for flossing between teeth, which is critical for maintaining good oral hygiene.

And the cost-to-benefit ratio is very favorable, Major added. Dental implants have a success rate of up to 98 percent, and they can last decades with proper care.

“The risks are minimal,” he said. “The advantages are that if you look at repairing a natural tooth that’s been damaged, the result can be weak. But implants can last a lifetime, so it’s a real long-term solution to missing teeth.”

The implantation procedure is straightforward, he said.

“We place it into the bone and allow it to heal for a while,” said Major. “Then we put an attachment on the denture and an abutment onto the implant and they can snap it on or screw it on. It’s a fairly easy procedure, and there’s not a lot of discomfort with it.”

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During the healing process, the implants begin to fuse with the bone, as natural roots would, so they’re designed to last a long time. Replacement teeth can be either permanently fixed to the implants or made to be removed if needed. They look and feel like real teeth, so patients feel more confident about their appearance.

“I’ve seen patients go from being embarrassed and always keeping their hands over their mouth, to their personality changing entirely because they feel like they can smile and talk again,” he said. “It’s really amazing.”

Potential candidates for dental implants should have healthy gums and enough bone to hold the implants. Patients interested in finding out if implants would be right for them should discuss the option with their dentist.

Major has been practicing dentistry since 1982, after graduating from the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry, and he has worked in Chattanooga the whole time. He has additional training in full mouth reconstruction, cosmetic dentistry and treating headaches and sleep apnea with dental appliances. He has a sedation dentistry comprehensive permit and has extensive experience in dealing with high-fear patients.

Chattanooga Dental Care has both adult and child patients, whom the office can start seeing when they are around 4 or 5 years old.

MORE INFORMATION

Chattanooga Dental Care, located at 6102 Shallowford Road, Suite 101, is currently accepting new patients, and Major, Dr. Austin Roberts and the rest of the staff can perform most dentistry procedures. Call the office at 423-499-9300 or visit chattanoogadentalcare.com to learn more about the services provided, including dental implants. A contact form on the website allows for easy communication with staff

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