In this modern day and age, looking good has never been more important. To look good, it is unquestionably essential for one to have that beautiful smile, showcasing a perfect set of natural-looking teeth. The recent decades have seen an improvement in the success rate of dental implants as a replacement for missing teeth. This high success rate of dental implants, coupled with the increasing expectations of dental implant patients, has resulted in a significant shift towards the importance placed on dental implant aesthetics. Now, dental implants are not only expected to be functional, but also, beautiful.
Achieving aesthetically pleasing dental implants in the aesthetic zone can be a challenging task. Precise planning and placement of an implant fixture in an ideal ridge condition is an important prerequisite for a good aesthetic result. However, challenges such as the lack of bone required for implant placement in the front of the upper jaw, require an unusually high level of skill from the implant dentist.
The starting point in achieving aesthetics in dental implants is to preserve the patient’s existing jawbone and soft tissue. This means that the patient’s teeth must be extracted very carefully and atraumatically. In most cases, there will be a waiting time of a minimum of 6 weeks post-extraction before the dental implants can be installed; this is to acquire as much gum tissue as possible. The lack of gum tissue is the most common cause of a poor aesthetic outcome in dental implants.
The importance of a precise 3-dimensional implant placement cannot be more heavily emphasized. Not only must the dental implant be placed in the correct position for an aesthetic dental implant crown to be constructed, it must also refrain from causing bone loss around it, as this could have an adverse effect on the final aesthetic outcome.
It is a common feature in Asian patients to have thinner bone and gum tissue than patients of other ethnicities. As such, bone-grafting procedures would also have to be carried out alongside implant placement, so as to achieve the optimal aesthetic effect for the dental implant.
The effect of dental implant design on final aesthetic outcome has become more evident in recent times. In general, the new generation of platform switching dental implants has resulted in a better aesthetic outcome, as they have a tendency to prevent bone loss around the dental implants.
The above is a brief synopsis of the lecture conducted by Dr Christopher Sim Kwang Yong, as a CDE lecturer for New York University College Dentistry (NYUCD), at the Tokyo Medical Dental University, Japan, on 24 March 2012.
Dr Christopher Sim Kwang Yong
S.D.C Certified Dental Specialist in Prosthodontics
NEW YORK UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF DENTISTRY
Linhart Continuing Dental Education Program