A Guide to Implant Solutions

Implants are one of the most popular choices for dentists and patients looking to replace missing teeth. From single-tooth replacement to long span bridges and full-mouth reconstruction, the world of implant dentistry offers a solution to almost any edentulous dilemma.

What should you consider when considering dental implants?

Whether you are a dental professional or a concerned patient, the following information might be helpful in understanding more clearly your implant based journey.

Choosing an Implant System

The implant system basically refers to the brand of implant being used and all its related components. Each system is unique and yet the same. What does that mean?

It means that all of the implant systems on the market are essentially capable of accomplishing the same objective: replace missing teeth – be it single unit or multi-unit. However, each system is unique in that its components aren’t interchangeable with another systems’.

You might liken an implant system to a car. Every car has the same objective (point A – Point B), and essentially, the same components. In that sense, all cars are the same. However, try connecting a ‘Ford’ transmission to a ‘Chevrolet’ motor and you will have some problems.

Similarly, although implants share common objectives and common components (i.e. the post, healing cap, copings, screws, abutments, etc.), each company has designed them to work exclusively with their own system, such that the parts aren’t interchangeable.

So, you can’t use a post from Straumann and the abutment from Nobel Biocare, for example. Why does this matter?

Well, once you place the implant post, you are committed to that particular implant system. This is not a problem necessarily, just a reality of implants that should be understood before deciding on a particular system.

It is usually the dentists responsibility to determine which system is ideal based on the indivicual circumstances of the case. At the end of the day, this is typically a minor concern since most implant dentists are comfortable with using 2 or 3 different industry leading brands, allowing them to offer a variety of viable options to their patients.

The dental lab, on the other hand, should be familiar with – we hesitate to say all, but – at least the majority of industry leading implant systems, in order to be capable of building quality restorations for any system that the treating dentist and/or patient prefers.

The most well-known, researched and reliable implant systems on the market today are (in no particular order):

  • Nobel Biocare
  • Straumann
  • Astra
  • 3i
  • Zest Anchor
  • Streri-Oss
  • Bio Horizons

Okon dental lab has the knowledge and expertise to create beautiful restorations on any of these systems.

Treatment Planning

The treatment planning stage is where the decisions on the implant system and overall case approach will be made between dentist and patient.

After the dentist has acquired all the diagnostic information required (radiographs, photographs, impressions, study models, 3D-images, etc.), the treatment plan options will be discussed until the patient is satisfied that they have learned and understood enough about their condition in order to make an informed decision in moving forward with an implant solution that they feel addresses their clinical needs and is within their budget.

Usually, the treatment approach and implant system that is chosen will depend heavily on the clinical parameters of the case. There are many clinical variables to consider; like these for example:

  1. Are you replacing a single tooth or multiple teeth?
  2. Is it a full-mouth rehabilitation using implant based over-dentures or ‘hybrid dentures’?
  3. Will the final restoration be adhesive or screw-retained – permanent or removable?
  4. Are there any extenuating factors to account for – bone density, bruxing, etc.?

Depending on the answers to these and other questions, the restorative dentist may prefer a particular system over another. This could be due to a particular systems’ performance record given certain parameters, or it could have more to do with the clinicians comfort level with the system, or any number of other considerations.

We don’t have the time or space to go in-depth into all the factors that may contribute to such a preference, but suffice it to say, there are no “cookie-cutter” solutions so the dentist and patient must weigh a bevy of variables and determine which system will work best to accomplish the accepted treatment plan (some of these decisions will inevitably hinge on the patients’ preference and budget for example).

At all times, it is best for the patient to be thorough, open and honest in communicating perceived needs and expectations with their dentist. The good news is that these decisions. although important, can usually be made during the transcourse of one discussion between patient – dentist.

At the end of the day, regardless of the treatment approach or the implant system chosen, both dentist and patient will want to make sure that the dental lab being used to fabricate the final restoration has both the most current technology and the years of technical experience necessary to produce a quality restoration that will function properly on that particular implant system, and look beautiful for years to come!

The Implant Team

As you may have ascertained from the above information, the dental lab is a critical member of the implant team. All members must work harmoniously in order to achieve a clinically and cosmetically ideal outcome.

The members of the implant team are – minimally – the restoring dentist, the patient, and the dental lab. Some restoring dentists opt to have an oral surgeon or periodontist assist in the surgical procedure required to place the implant post itself.

Depending on the case, some general restorative dentists may opt to place the implant themselves or refer the surgical portion of the procedure to a specialist. Either way, it is the responsibility of the patient to perform their ‘due diligence’ and inquire as to the qualifications and experience level of any doctor that will be performing surgery on them.

There are a few professional organizations out there that can offer assistance/guidelines when it comes to choosing the ideal clinician for implant placement. The most widely known and respected is the AAID (American Academy of Implant Dentistry)

Once the implant is in place and ready to be restored, it is critical that the restoring dentist and the dental lab collaborate to ensure a successful outcome. This requires excellent communication from both parties.

Okon dental lab is dedicated to facilitating this process with open, honest and frequent communication throughout the implant restoration process. In addition, we have customer service systems in place that allow us to track the quantity and quality of the information flow between offices to reduce missteps and maximize production/turn-around time.