Patients with tooth abnormalities from ectodermal dysplasia often require dentures at a very young age. Over time, that can lead to the development of inflamed tissues in the mouth and even bone loss. Now, dental professionals with UT Health Science Center at San Antonio are using high-tech tools and materials to create a full set of artificial teeth that can be implanted into the jaw. If patients don't have enough bone, doctors must first take bone from another area of the body (usually the hip) and graft it into the jaw. Once the bone graft is healed, dentists begin planning for the implant.
CT scans are used to assess the shape of the bone and plan target areas for the implant anchors. The anchors are surgically placed and dentists must wait another six months for the areas to heal. Next, the implant is designed using computerized technology.
Robert J. Cronin, D.D.S., M.S., makes the implants with zirconia because the material is strong and white in color (so there's no need to mask dark metal components). Once finished, the artificial teeth are screwed in place onto the bone anchors.
Paul Chang, D.D.S., M.S., says even though the teeth are artificial, they must be treated just like real teeth. Patients must brush and floss every day and come back to the dentist for a professional cleaning every six months. Even though the full arch implant is considered a permanent device, it can be unscrewed at the dental office for a thorough cleaning. That enables the dentist to inspect the implant and gums for any signs of problems.
This technology is very new, and the San Antonio-based team is the first to use it... so it may be awhile before it's available nationwide. However, if you wish to contact the doctors in Texas, call 210-567-6396.