What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are titanium screws of different shapes and sizes (diameter & length) that are placed in the jawbone. After placement, the implants are allowed to heal and fuse with the jawbone in a process called osseointegration. When the implants are firmly embedded in the jawbone, a process that takes three to six months then the dental restoration is placed.
This titanium implant is placed in the jawbone by following a proper diagnostic and surgical protocol without causing any discomfort to the patient. Among all the dental treatment options available, dental implant restorations have shown highest rate of success for replacement of missing teeth. They look and function just like real teeth, and can last many years with proper care.
Why is a Dental Implant required?
After teeth are extracted the bone naturally begins to resorb, dental implants mimic the stimulation provided by natural tooth roots thereby helps in preventing bone resorption. The loss of teeth can affect both the function of chewing food and facial appearance.
Adjacent teeth can be affected by the gap left due to a missing tooth since it will lead to shifting of teeth and thereby making the mal-aligned teeth more vulnerable to fracture and cracking. Dental Implants prevent supra-eruption of natural teeth in the opposite arch due to absence of antagonist teeth.
Advantages of Dental Implants:
- Dental implant helps in maintaining bone level in and around implant site.
- They also prevent gum recession around implant site.
- Help to restore proper chewing of food.
- Dental implants do not require preparation (grinding down) of adjacent natural teeth on each side of the gap.
- Implants supported dentures (either removable or fixed) are more secure and reliable as you do not require any messy adhesives to retain the dentures.
- They also help to preserve the appearance of your face and prevent sunken cheeks.
- Immediate dental implant technique can allow in placing implant the same day as your extraction of decayed teeth.
Some patients may require some preparatory procedures before we can place implants. For example, if patient has deficient jawbone, they may require bone graft to enhance patient’s jawbone to create a strong base for your implant placement. Bone grafting will affect your implant timeline as we have to wait 6 to 9 months for bone to heal properly.
If bone grafting is not feasible, then such patients can receive mini dental implants which are thinner in diameter than conventional dental implants. Due to their smaller size and shape, they can be placed in a smaller amount of bone.
It usually takes about 4 to 6 months for bone and gums to fuse around the dental implant in a process known as osseo integration.
During the recovery phase the patient will have several appointments with the dentist to assess the overall healing of surgical site.
In the meanwhile dental lab will fabricate customized restoration which should be ready for placement as soon as site is completely healed.
Can anyone get Dental Implants placed in their mouth?
- Potential Implant candidates should have overall good oral hygiene maintenance.
- Presence of diabetes or any other systemic medication taken by patient does not necessarily rule out the dental implant treatment, as long as the condition is under control and do not lead to any type of dental surgery risk.
- Patient should have sufficient dense jaw bone present; if not then artificial bone graft is to be place at the potential surgical site.
- Be free from any kind of periodontal disease
- Not smoke, or be willing to give up smoking, especially during the Osseointegration period (when the implants are fusing with the jawbone)
- Patient should have good overall general health
- Patient should be motivated to commit oneself to healthy lifestyle habits, a good oral hygiene regimen, and routine post-surgical visits to his dentist.
Dental implants are not recommended if:
- Presence of certain medical conditions that may create serious post-operative complications during surgery, such as heart disease.
- Patient is currently undergoing any treatment for cancer or certain bone diseases
- Patient following certain immunosuppressive therapy for any organ transplant
- Dental implant procedure are not recommended for children since their jawbones have not yet fully developed.
How to maintain Post Surgical Care and Oral Hygiene:
- Usually any discomfort should subside within the first 24 to 48 hours.
- You can speed your healing with pain medication and moist heat.
- You should eat a soft diet for the first several days and avoid strenuous physical activity.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle strokes to avoid opening up the dental sutures.
- Use a special mouthwash to help eliminate oral bacteria.
- You should also rinse your mouth with warm salt water several times a day.
- Once the gums have fully healed, patient has to take care for your implants just like you care for your natural teeth. You should brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once.
- Special brushes and dental floss can help clean the hard-to-reach sides of your implant restorations.
- Patient should also schedule routine dental exams and cleanings.
- With proper aftercare and hygiene, your dental implants could last the rest of your life.