Dental Implants Help the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Many audiology implants are anchored to the skull with titanium screws.

Dental implant technology has been used to replace missing teeth since the 1960’s, and it continues to improve the lives of its recipients. Whether dental implant technology is used to replace just one tooth or many, anchor a bridge, or hold a full set of dentures in place, the key component is the use of titanium screws.

Why is Titanium So Important?

Titanium, used in many medical disciplines to repair and replace body parts, is generally safe and rarely has ill effects on human health. It is considered one of the most biocompatible substances that can be used for implant treatments. Thus, after titanium screws are installed in the jaw for dental implants, they become part of the body through osseointegration. The titanium surface of the screws fuses with the bone and essentially becomes an integral piece of the jawbone. This bond is as strong as your original tooth roots, withstanding the pressure of biting and chewing.

Benefits to Audiology

How has this technology helped the field of audiology? Because dental implants are so successful, other medical fields now use the phenomena of osseointegration to secure processors and devices to the body. Two in particular, used by head and neck surgeons, are cochlear implants and bone anchored hearing aids (BAHA’s).

In the case of cochlear implants, titanium screws secure the part of the implant that is placed under the skin. The implant includes an electrode that is inserted into the snail-shaped part of the inner ear called the cochlea. The electrode, in conjunction with an external microphone and processor, then sends signals directly into the cochlea nerve network, allowing the brain to interpret these signals as sound. It’s all stabilized by a titanium screw holding the parts in place, while applying the benefits of titanium osseointegration.

A BAHA system provides improved hearing for patients with single-sided deafness or certain types of hearing loss. A BAHA starts with a titanium screw attached to the skull behind the ear, and that secures an outer processor to the head, either with a magnet under the skin or a small abutment that protrudes through the skin. The processor turns sound waves into vibrations that go through the skull and are then picked up by a functioning ear.

Dental Technology Spin-offs Benefit Medical Care

This is all very amazing, and if you were an early adopter of dental implants, give yourself a pat on the back for being part of medical history and research. If you are still on the fence about getting dental implants, be assured this process has been in use for decades, is constantly improved, and is quite safe. Because it helps preserve your jawbone, it is more than just safe; it is beneficial to your appearance and the health of your remaining teeth. Make an appointment soon to discuss with the Sacramento Dentistry Group the benefits of dental implants.

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