Losing teeth causes intense emotional stress. Not only are you losing a feature from your face but also a functionality that is integral to good health. All adult humans are susceptible to tooth loss that can result from ageing, tooth decay, periodontal disease, bruxism, physical injury, and diseases like diabetes. Some of the reasons are beyond our control, and tooth loss can happen to anyone with a permanent set of natural teeth. But, there’s always a dental solution. The dental implant procedure is designed to give you teeth, so you don’t have to resign to despair or feel ashamed.
What is a dental implant?
Dental implants are medical devices surgically inserted into the jaw. These anchor artificial teeth such as crowns. This procedure can replace a single tooth or several teeth. They are also a fixed alternative to removable dentures and for those who are experiencing mouth shrink due to teeth loss and can no longer support dentures. Artificial tooth roots made from titanium screw-like posts support crowns that look and function like real teeth. A device called an abutment connects the crown to the artificial root.
There are two types of dental implants called endosteal and subperiosteal. Endosteal implants are embedded in the jawbone, and each one can hold one or more artificial teeth. Subperiosteal implants are fixed on the jawbone and used for those without adequate bone height for endosteal implants.
What are dental implants made out of?
They are usually from 90% titanium and other metals that give them additional strength, such as aluminium and vanadium. Zirconia is used as well, a suitable alternative for those who have a metal allergy and cannot use titanium. It is a one-piece, all-in-one crown. Ceramic is also becoming a popular option.
For what dental conditions are dental implants placed?
Dental implants are used to;
- Replace one or more missing teeth
- Restore normal chewing and speaking functions
- Increase your confidence by replacing teeth with natural-looking prosthetics that won’t move or loosen.
- Eliminate irritated & painful gums and damaging pressure on remaining natural teeth caused by dentures.
- Help prevent progressive bone loss and shrinkage of jawbone with artificial roots.
Who can receive dental implants?
You can receive dental implants if you,
- Have a fully-grown jawbone with healthy gum tissue
- Have sufficient bone to secure the implants
- Can have a bone graft
- Are free from health conditions that will affect bone healing
- Dislike wearing dentures or unable to wear dentures
- Want improved speech without impediment caused by dentures
- Do not consume tobacco
How does the procedure work?
You will meet your dentist for a detailed consultation, during which you can discuss what you want to achieve with the procedure.
After evaluating your medical history, your dentist will perform a clinical assessment to decide your suitability for the treatment. During this, X-rays and mould impressions of your mouth will be taken. It creates a model of your jaw, gums, and existing teeth. This helps your oral surgeon decide where the implants should be placed. A CBCT scan also helps to identify how much bone you have. In some cases, bone grafting or a sinus lift is required to create enough space for the implants to sit before treatment.
Dental implant surgery does not require a hospital. It is carried out in the oral surgery of your local dental office. Make sure your dental practice can accommodate the needs for this process. It is performed under local anesthesia, but if you are too nervous, your surgeon may offer you sedation to help you relax. Before surgery, eat a light meal at least 2 hours before surgery if local anesthesia is being used. If you are undergoing IV sedation, make sure to have an empty stomach. It means not eating anything after midnight.
After insertion, some implant types will stick out through the gum, while others will be buried underneath the gum. Dental implants require about 3-6 months to osseointegrate into the jawbone. A temporary denture or bridge will be provided for appearance if required. You can remove it for cleaning and while you sleep.
After the implant bonds to the jawbone, your replacement teeth will be fixed. Implants buried under the gum need to be surgically exposed before an abutment is attached. Then, the custom-made crowns made to match the teeth they are replacing are fitted. These resemble your natural tooth colour.
You will need a dental specialist and an oral surgeon to plan out your treatment. Dental implants require advanced medical qualifications. If you have a tooth that needs to be extracted before the implant is secured, it can be done the same day. You will also need to choose what type of dental implant is more beneficial to you. Choose the material it will be made from – titanium, zirconia, polymers, ceramics, or alternative metals like stainless steel, gold, and cobalt-chromium.
Sometimes implants come with an attached abutment, which doesn’t require another surgical step, but it means you will have an exposed abutment. Some may not like this, so learn which is best for you. All-in-one implants are also available, which means all three components are fixed at the same time. You will also need to choose your artificial teeth in the form of a crown, a permanent denture, or a permanent bridge. You might want to choose porcelain as a material as it is more durable and stain-resistant.
Smoking is a major cause of periodontal diseases, and it also narrows tiny blood vessels in the gums, reducing blood flow. Due to this, healing can become slower, and infections might occur. Excessive drinking has the same effect. Therefore, if you smoke, your dentist will advise you to stop smoking in advance before the treatment begins and continue to do so after.
Dental implants aftercare
After the surgery, it’s natural to experience some bruising, swelling, minor bleeding, and pain. You will be advised to eat soft foods, cold foods, and warm soup while you’re healing. Keep ice packs at hand to help with any swelling. Avoid tobacco as it can increase the chance of infection. Practice careful brushing in that area.
Dental implants require long-term dental care to prevent periodontal disease. They need the same dental hygiene as regular teeth. Make sure to brush your teeth twice a day, floss in between, rinse with antibacterial mouthwash, and go for regular dental check-ups. Avoid hard foods that can damage the crowns.
What is the recovery period after receiving a dental implant?
Recovery time depends on age, health, and hygiene practices. Surgery procedure has multiple stages of recovery. Recovery time is quicker for one or two implants without bone or tissue grafts. Minor swelling, mild discomfort, and bruising can last for a few days. If there was a need to carry out any bone or tissue grafting or you received multiple dental implants, recovery time can take a week or two.
Dental implants are your next best option after natural teeth. There is no need to live with fewer teeth or removable dentures if they are causing you inconveniences. Mouth Dental offers state-of-the-art oral surgery facilities from minor to major treatment. Book your appointment today!