The Down-Low on Dental Implants

 Dr.KurI remember the look on my kids’ faces when they found their grandfather’s dentures in the bathroom. We all had a good laugh but then the discussion turned towards all the issues he has with his dentures and his habit of clicking them in and out of place in his mouth. My kids may be forever traumatized. My sister brought up the potential for dental implants but he waved off all suggestions for improvements because of “…things I’ve heard,” he said.

After extensive research online, I chatted with Dr. Benjamin Kur, a board-certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon in his tenth year of practice. He regularly sees patients who are candidates for dental implants but have received incorrect information about low success rates, issues with infection or bone grafting. Dr. Kur answered some questions to set the record straight about modern dental implants.

Who is a candidate for a dental implant?
Patients who are candidates for implants have lost teeth, have teeth that cannot be restored or have had sustained trauma to the teeth.

What are the most common objections you hear from patients about why they are not considering a dental implant?
Many patients feel that age is a factor and this is no longer the case. Patients have also been told that they don’t have enough bone for an implant and again, this is no longer a concern for us or them. Technological advancements, surgical techniques and computer guided surgery have essentially removed all variability from the equation. There are very few circumstances where an individual is NOT a candidate. The only time a dental implant may be contraindicated is if a patient has a pre-existing condition such as an endocrine issue or is immunocompromised. We have really come a long way in our specialty.

How long can one expect a dental implant to last?
Thanks to the incredible technology we have available to us today, I expect dental implants to last one's lifetime.

What is the process like from start to finish? When can a patient expect to be fully "utilizing" the implant as if it were a real tooth?
There are different circumstances that will determine if a patient can have the dental implant placed by the surgeon immediately or if it will be delayed. The literature does not support either and the success rates are within 5% of each other. However, in areas where there is a large infection or the bone is compromised, the implant placement is delayed until reconstruction and bone growth is achieved. This is usually three months from the removal of the teeth and/or bone grafting. The bone graft is utilized to prevent the original dimensions of the bone and extraction socket from resorbing, thus limiting the size of the implant planned. In areas where patients require surgery in the "cosmetic zone", or anterior part of the mouth, we place the implants immediately and work with the restoring dentist to fabricate a temporary crown so a patient never has a gap in their mouth. This is a huge advancement in oral and maxillofacial surgery because it limits the amount of time patients are without teeth and as well as the number of surgeries the patient must endure in order to achieve a final result.

Are there certain foods, drinks or activities that may be limited after an implant?
There are no limitations with diet other than when the implant is placed and the temporary (or loaded) crown is immediately placed. The patient cannot chew with the temporary crown as it may lead to micro-mobility and failing of the implant. We always tell patients that any food they can cut with a fork is safe to eat. Once the temporary crown is replaced with the permanent implant, there are no restrictions and patients feel their quality of life has improved because they can eat and drink anything with no worries.

Are there any downsides to dental implants?
There are really no downsides and in fact, it’s the exact opposite Replacing a single tooth with a bridge, for example, destroys the adjacent teeth and the success rate for bridges is significantly lower than single or multiple implant placements.

Dr. Kur lives locally (in Scarsdale) and his office is in Hawthorne/Valhalla directly across the street from Westchester Medical Center. Parking is convenient with a valet on-site (no tips accepted). He is currently welcoming new patients.

Dr. Benjamin Kur
Westchester Oral & Maxillofacial Associates, PLLC