A dental implant is a surgical tooth replacement done by a dentist or an oral surgeon. The procedure is performed by inserting artificial tooth roots on the jawbone to place replacement teeth such as a crown, bridge, denture, facial prosthesis, or the likes. If you are considering dental implants, call a nearby clinic to book an appointment. Your dentist will thoroughly assess if you are a good candidate for a dental implant.
Dental implants replace missing permanent teeth caused by gum disease, tooth decay, infection, or an injury. These dental implants are made to look, feel, and function like natural teeth. Depending on the patient’s case, the dental implant process is basically split into a three-phase process.
Phase 1: Tooth Root Implant (Osseointegration)
The first phase includes the surgical placement of the implant to tooth extraction to bone grafting (if necessary). Bone grafting is a procedure performed to replace the bone loss in the jaw that anchors the teeth. It is necessary if you have a missing tooth for such a long time that there is not enough bone to hold the implant in place. To not feel any pain or discomfort during the procedure, the oral surgeon will begin by thoroughly numbing your mouth providing local anesthesia or by giving you an IV sedation. The oral surgeon will then proceed to make an incision in your gums to place a tooth root implant into the jawbone where your missing tooth is. Once placed, the oral surgeon closes the gums over the implant so that it remains covered. The first phase usually lasts three to six months, or longer if bone grafting is done. After the procedure, you will be able to stay at home for your recovery until you are ready for phase two (or three). After a few months, the jawbone will have grown around the implant, securing it firmly and strongly to stay in place. This process is called osseointegration, simply put, it is when the titanium implant covered with gum tissue is integrated into the jawbone.
Phase 2: Abutment
Both the implant post and abutment serves as an anchor for the replacement tooth. The placement of an abutment on implant post is usually done after phase one. It is performed by attaching the abutment to the tooth root implant. In some cases, the implant post and abutment are placed simultaneously. Its purpose is to connect and hold the crown securely to the implanted post or tooth root implant. If it is done right after the implant post, gum tissues are allowed to grow up around it. Both the implant post and abutment serve as an anchor for the replacement tooth.
Phase 3: Crown
Once the tooth root implant is completely healed and settled around the bone with the abutment is placed, you are ready to receive your custom replacement tooth, also known as a crown. Your dentist will make sure that your crown is specifically designed to fit the size, shape, and color of the rest of your teeth. It will be custom-made just for you. Your oral surgeon will then attach the new tooth to the abutment. This procedure usually takes about two to four hours. And there you have it!
Three common types of dental implants
This dental implant is the most common dental implant that is suited for most patients. Endosteal implants are typically made of titanium and are shaped like tiny screws. They are placed in the jawbone to act as an abutment for a crown. This dental implant requires a good, healthy jawbone for osseointegration.
Compared to endosteal implants, a subperiosteal implant is placed onto the bone rather than into the bone. This procedure is used for patients who do not have enough jawbone for an implant to be placed or patients who do not want to undergo bone grafting.
This dental implant is the most complicated procedure as it is done by placing the implant in the patient’s cheekbone rather than the jawbone.
Advantages of Dental Implants
Improved appearance. This is on the top of the list because it is the most noticeable one. When you lose natural teeth, there will be nothing left in the jawbone to stimulate bone growth. When the jawbone is unable to stimulate bone growth, it dissolves away. The absence of the bone results in rapid deterioration of the facial structure, where your lips fold-in, and the lower face shrivels up, and wrinkles develop around the mouth. What dental implants do is preserve bone growth and prevent further facial structure deterioration, hence the improved appearance.
Improved speech. When used for a long time, dentures can get loose and poor-fitted, causing the teeth to slip or slide within the mouth. When this happens, you will be unable to speak smoothly and begin to slur your words. You will not worry about your artificial teeth slipping because dental implants are permanent.
Improved comfort. Dental implants are permanent. You never have to trouble yourself removing them and putting them back again. You can eat, drink, brush, and floss like they are your natural teeth.
Improved self-esteem. Having a missing tooth or teeth can make you feel self-conscious and less confident. Dental implants can give you back your joyful smile and help boost your confidence. Because dental implants look and feel like real teeth, you can eat, laugh, and smile without reservations.
Improved oral health. Because nearby teeth are not altered during a dental implant process, your own teeth are left intact. This allows you to care for your dental implants, the same as caring for natural teeth. With proper care and maintenance, and regular checkups, you will have a happy and healthy smile that lasts a lifetime.
Are Dental Implants For Everyone?
Adult patients who are healthy enough to undergo dental extraction or oral surgery are considered for a dental implant. The only requirement is healthy gums and enough jawbone to help hold the implant. Patients who want to do a dental implant should have also committed to good oral hygiene and dental visits. Those who are not good candidates for dental implants are people suffering from a chronic illness such as diabetes or heart disease. Pregnant women are also not good candidates due to the increased risk of infection during surgery, as well as children, as their jawbones are not developing enough to hold the implant.
How to Care For Your Dental Implants
Maintain excellent oral hygiene. Keep your implants, artificial clean, and gum tissue clean by regular brushing and proper oral hygiene. There is a specially designed toothbrush you can use to help clean around your teeth, gums, and metal posts. An interdental brush is a good example of a specially designed toothbrush that slides between teeth.
Visit your dentist regularly. Your relationship with your dentist does not end after the procedure is done. Schedule regular dental checkups to ensure the health of your implants. You will also need your dentist’s professional advice when it comes to cleaning and maintaining implants. Regular checkups can also ensure the proper functioning of your implants.
Avoid damaging habits. Take good care of your teeth and crowns (artificial teeth) by avoiding chewing hard items that can potentially damage your teeth (both artificial and natural). Avoiding tooth-staining products like tobacco and caffeine can also help preserve their bright-white color.
Dental implants take time and effort. You have to wait three to six months for your root implants to heal before you can get your prosthesis. In between that, you will need to schedule routine checkups with your dentist. Although it is a long procedure that takes several months to complete, it is definitely worth the wait. While other tooth replacements require much more maintenance after their procedure, dental implants are less of a problem you need to worry about in the long run.