Implants Replace Teeth
Peter Pizzi, MDT, CDT
More than 10 years ago, a colleague and mentor suggested that if it were possible to begin his career again, he would concentrate all of his energy on perfecting his work on implants with a better understanding of the surgical and restorative options while managing the functional and esthetic needs of our patients. Considering how today my own laboratory is more than 60% implant-based, I am often reminded of this conversation over a decade ago and would like to narrow my focus on this page to our work with implants in today's dental practice and laboratory.
A more comprehensive understanding of today's work often involves looking to the past. As Jason Mazda discusses in our March feature, knowledge is always king. As much as we have advanced our understanding of implant placement, depth, angulations, and restorative components, together with added technician involvement, I often refer to the adage that "what is old is new" insofar as the timeless basics of restorative options apply to our work with implants.
Far too often, implants are treated as if they are different from any other restorative. Regrettably, I have even heard experts in our field state that "implants are not teeth," as if to suggest more leeway in our functional and esthetic approach. While implants may not be teeth, they most certainly replace teeth in appearance and function. Although there are differences in the basic biological nature of an implant versus a natural root, we must be cognizant that all of the basics still apply. The depth of a natural tooth or an implant helps or hinders the emergence profile, while the size and position of the natural root or implant can cause a cantilever effect or an orthodontic functional issue. The interocclusal space still limits the dowel and ferrule of cementation of natural teeth or implant abutments, yet with natural teeth, crown lengthening procedures can add the needed cementation distance, while with implants this sometimes can be managed more efficiently with screw-retained options.
With all of the options we have available, implants allow for everything from simple single-unit tooth replacement to full-mouth fixed and removable options. Our ability to use the proper terminology and develop and understand the benefits and the risks associated with implant placement allows us to be part of a great partnership for today's and tomorrow's implant-driven market.
Peter Pizzi, MDT, CDT