Missing teeth can be uncomfortable and unsightly and even affect a person’s confidence. Dental implants have come to the rescue to restore the dental formula and give you a chance to have natural-looking teeth. However, one may have many questions about the procedure. For instance, what is a dental implant, what is the procedure involved, its associated risks, and how to choose the right dental practitioner? This article attempts to answer these questions and provide a comprehensive guide to the dental implant procedure.
Understanding Dental Implants
Dental implants are artificial teeth that are surgically implanted in the jaw bone to replace a missing tooth or teeth. They can mimic the look and feel of natural teeth and are shaped like small screws, typically made of titanium. The dental practitioner will implant them into the jawbone, which allows bone tissue to grow around them, adding more stability.
Dental practitioners assess whether a candidate is suitable for the implant procedure. They check your medical history and determine your overall oral health and well-being before recommending treatment. If you have gum disease or insufficient gum tissue, your dental practitioner may refer you to a dentist for bone grafting.
Types of Dental Implants
Endosteal implants are the most commonly used type of dental implant. They are screws made from titanium that are surgically placed into the jawbone. After the implant placement, your jawbone will take several months to heal and fuse with the implant. Once healing is complete, a permanent crown, bridge, or denture can be attached to the implant.
The benefit of endosteal implants is their durability and ability to restore functionality, allowing you to eat your favourite foods confidently. Another advantage is that they are perfect for replacing multiple missing teeth, which means you can get optimal restoration with fewer implants.
Subperiosteal implants are inserted into the gum tissue but not in the jawbone. They have a metal framework connecting to the jawbone underneath the gums. Once the gum heals, the implant remains embedded in the gum and provides a retention mechanism for the replacement teeth.
This implant type is often preferred for patients with insufficient jawbone density and is not a candidate for bone grafting. Patients who cannot tolerate wearing dentures can also benefit from this type of implant as they provide stability to dentures.
Transosteal Implants are rarely used today. However, they may be used as an alternative option for those who do not have adequate jawbone ridge height. This type involves screwing metal pins through either the lower or upper jawbone. The pins are then connected to a frame that supports dentures or other artificial teeth.
This procedure provides a long-term solution for edentulous patients who cannot benefit from other types of implants. The disadvantage of transosteal implants is that patients may require general anaesthesia and take longer to heal.
This surgical treatment is ideal for patients who do not have adequate bone in the upper jaw to support traditional implants. The implants are installed through the cheekbone rather than the jawbone, providing stability to a fixed denture or other appliance.
This procedure is usually carried out under general anaesthesia and requires high surgical expertise. Nevertheless, zygomatic implants are ideal for those who have suffered bone loss due to oral health conditions such as gum disease or have undergone radiation therapy.
The Implant Procedure
Before the surgery, the dental practitioner will numb the area using local anaesthesia. Once you are numb, the dental practitioner will make a small incision into your gum tissue to access your jawbone. With the help of a pilot hole, he will then screw the implant into the jawbone. Typically, the process takes about 1-2 hours, on average, depending on the complexity of the implant placement.
You may require several visits after this, as the implant will be left to fuse with the bone, a process known as osseointegration. Afterwards, an abutment will be placed on the artificial tooth attached to the top of the implant.
Preparing for the Procedure
Consultation with a Dentist
The primary step towards the dental implant procedure is consulting with a dentist. The dentist will discuss the dental implant process during the consultation, evaluate your oral health, and provide a customised treatment plan. Disclosing your complete medical history, medication use, and previous dental procedures is essential. This disclosure will better understand your dental health and help the practitioner develop an accurate procedure plan.
Evaluating your Oral Health
A thorough examination of your oral health is necessary before any surgical procedure. The dentist will check for gum disease, gum tissue health, and jawbone density. The dentist may recommend treatment before the implant procedure if you have gum disease. The jawbone must be dense enough to support the implant and attach firmly to its surface. If the bone density is low, a bone grafting procedure might be necessary to reinforce the jawbone.
Possible Pre-operative Procedures
Other procedures might be necessary before the implant placement, depending on your oral health. For example, if you have missing teeth for an extended period, other teeth might have moved to fill the gap, causing misalignment.
The dentist might recommend orthodontic treatment before the dental implant procedure to correct the alignment. Also, if the jawbone is weak or damaged, a bone graft might be necessary to restore its strength and density.
Follow Aftercare Instructions
After dental implant surgery, your dentist will provide aftercare instructions for you to follow. Make sure to listen carefully and adhere to them as much as possible. These instructions may include using ice packs to reduce swelling, eating soft foods, avoiding crunchy and chewy foods, and keeping your mouth clean by rinsing with saltwater. These simple tips can go a long way in reducing pain and swelling and promoting faster healing.
Take It Easy
It is crucial to take a break from your daily activities and allow yourself some rest for the first few days after surgery. Avoid exercise and strenuous activities that may cause an increase in blood flow to the implant area. Instead, take short walks to promote blood circulation but avoid pushing yourself too hard. Remember, your body needs time to focus on healing, so try to relax and get plenty of sleep.
Attend Follow-up Appointments With Your Dentist
The first few weeks after dental implant surgery are crucial. Your dentist will monitor your healing progress and address any concerns during follow-up appointments. It is essential to attend these appointments to ensure optimal healing and avoid complications that may occur if problems are not detected early.
Eat A Healthy Diet
After dental implant surgery, it is crucial to maintain a healthy diet that helps to promote and support healing. Eat foods high in protein, such as eggs, yoghurt, and fish, as well as fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, such as berries, spinach, and kale. Avoid foods that are difficult to chew and those that are acidic or high in sugar, like chocolate, soda, and candy.
Consider Bone Grafting
Your dentist may recommend a bone grafting procedure if you don’t have enough jawbone to support a dental implant. This involves transplanting bone tissue to the implant site to create a strong base.
Bone grafting can take several months to heal, so following the aftercare instructions is essential to promote healing and increase the chances of successful implant placement.
Benefits of Dental Implants
Firstly, dental implants can improve your oral health. When you lose a tooth, the space in your gum can lead to bone loss, which can cause the shifting of adjacent teeth. This can affect the overall alignment of your teeth and may result in gum disease and tooth decay. However, with dental implants, the implant placement in the jaw bone can stimulate bone growth and prevent the loss of jaw bone over time. In other words, it not only replaces the missing tooth but also restores the strength and support of your jaw bone and helps maintain good oral health.
Secondly, dental implants can boost self-confidence. Missing teeth can cause people to feel conscious about their smile and hinder them from engaging in social activities. Dental implants offer a natural-looking replacement for missing teeth and can blend in well with your other teeth. Patients who opt for dental implants often report feeling more confident in their appearance and more at ease when socialising with others.
Thirdly, dental implants can offer long-term cost savings. While dental implants may be more expensive than other dental treatments, they offer a long-term solution to missing teeth. Unlike other treatments, such as dentures or bridges, dental implants do not need to be replaced frequently and can last a lifetime with proper oral care. Thus, patients who opt for dental implants can save in the long run by avoiding regular replacements or maintenance.
Dental implants are an excellent solution for restoring a dental formula and saving you from the agony of missing teeth. Understanding the procedure’s fundamentals, risks involved, and post-surgery care is essential to make an informed decision. Research and select the right dental practitioner to make the process successful. Talk to our professional dentists at Boutique Dental Care about the procedure and get the necessary information. Contact us on (02) 9054 5281 today!
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
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