Many people see dental implants as the perfect solution for fixing their smiles — rather than dealing with unreliable adhesive dentures and fragile crowns, the titanium implants act as replacement roots, anchoring themselves securely into the jawbone and providing a sturdy, functional foundation for the false teeth on top.
But that assumes the implants are placed properly to begin with. And, as 67-year-old Trevor Peak, of Hull, England, found out, proper placement may not always be a given.
While many implant dentists boast that their procedures can last a lifetime, Peak’s implants began failing after only a couple years. At a meeting, while making what Peak called a “rather passionate” point, Peak’s entire bridge flew out of his mouth. One crown reportedly fell out after Peak bit into a plum. Another crown fell out during the night, and was swallowed involuntarily while Peak slept.
After several reattachments of Peak’s bridge, as well as numerous re-fittings for his crowns (one of which was refitted four times), it finally came to light that the surgeons who placed the implants didn’t think Peak’s jawbone was strong enough in the first place, but installed the implants anyway.
Meanwhile, Peak’s jawbone was actually shrinking, causing the implants to get looser and looser. Peak was also a smoker during his procedure, which is a leading cause in improper healing of the bones and gums. But Peak claims that he was let never asked about his smoking, let alone advised to stop.
Is Peak’s case typical? The issues may run deeper than just the variations in the quality of dental care from one facility to the next — the issue could be the practicality of implants themselves.
Dr. Michael Zybutz, a dental implant and gum disease specialist, claims that implants, by mimicking the fixed nature of a natural root, are beneficial for the jawbone. “The more you chew and bite, the stronger the jawbone is,” says Dr. Zybutz. “And because they are fixed in firmly, that works for implants, too.”