February 2011

Dental Department: Q&A With Dr. Brian C. Low

Author: Dr. Brian C. Low

Q: What do you see as the greatest advancement in dentistry over the past 20 years?
A: The development of dental implants has greatly changed the way dentistry is practiced today and has significantly improved the quality of life of many of our patients. More recently, we also now have the ability to obtain 3D CAT scans to assist in treatment planning and surgical placement for our more complex cases.

Q: Can you explain what a dental implant is?
A: Dental implants consist of three components: a small titanium screw that is inserted into the bone, an abutment or post which attaches to the implant, and a crown which fits over the abutment providing a natural looking tooth.

Q: What benefits have you seen with this technology?
A: There are many benefits. Implants are fixed in place and are not removable, reducing those often embarrassing situations with removable dentures. The need to damage adjacent healthy teeth with traditional bridge work can be eliminated. From a physiological standpoint, implants can reduce future bone loss in areas where teeth are missing. There is a natural phenomenon in which the body allows for significant bone loss in the jaws where there are no teeth or implants. This can cause devastating consequences over the years. A large part of my practice is spent replacing lost bone with bone grafts, which often could have been prevented. Lastly, implants can last a lifetime.

Q: Can anyone get dental implants?
A: With rare exceptions, anyone is a candidate.

Q: How successful are dental implants?
A: Implants successfully integrate with the bone greater than 97 percent of the time. Unfortunately, no procedure can be 100 percent successful. A failed implant generally means that it becomes loose. In the rare instance that an implant becomes loose, I replace the implant at no charge to the patient.

Q: What has been the key to your success with this technology?
A: The successful implant requires that all parties involved—the patient, the restorative dentist, and the surgeon—all follow a careful treatment plan. The community is fortunate to have many restorative dentists competent in implant treatment planning. We stay in close communication with our patients and their dentist during the process to ensure optimal results. Communication, training, and experience has afforded our patients with high success rates and improved quality of life.

Q: What is typically involved in getting dental implants?
A: A clinical examination is completed. X-rays are taken and 3D CAT scans are utilized when necessary. A treatment plan is then developed, specific to the patient’s condition and goals. The placement of implants is then scheduled in coordination with the patient’s restorative dentist, often allowing for a new smile the same day.

Q: Am I too old for dental implants?
A: Age is not a factor in implant success. In fact, I have seen life-changing improvements in our patient’s lives in their sixth to tenth decades of life. Many of our older patients have suffered for years with removable dentures that they have been unable to tolerate or have caused embarrassing social situations.

Q: Is the procedure painful?
A: As with any surgical procedure, there is some associated discomfort. However, most patients are amazed how minimal their discomfort was from the procedure. In addition, we offer IV sedation to our patients, eliminating any discomfort and anxiety during the procedure.

Q: I’ve heard the term “teeth in a day.” Is this possible?
A: Advances in implant techniques and new protocols have allowed this to be possible. There are now circumstances in which implants can be placed and replacement teeth fitted all on the same day. A great example of this is shown using the Nobel Biocare “All on-4” technique. In coordination with the patient’s restorative dentist and following a pre-surgical workup, we are able to remove any necessary teeth, place four implants, and have the patient in a set of new replacement teeth the same day.

Dr. Brian C. Low is a Board Certified Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon with Hilton Head Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Dental Implant Center with offices on Hilton Head Island and in Bluffton, South Carolina. He specializes in all phases of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, including advanced dental implant techniques. For appointments, call (843) 689-6338 (Hilton Head) or (843) 815-3055 (Bluffton).

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