What you need to know about Dental Implants
Dental implant surgery is a procedure to replace damaged or missing teeth using artificial teeth that function and look much like real ones. The implant acts as a replacement for the root of a missing or damaged tooth, which in turn serves to hold a replacement tooth or bridge. Dental implant surgery is considered as a better alternative to dentures or bridgework that does not fit well. It also offers a great option for people when they do not have enough natural teeth roots left to build denture or bridgework replacements.
Since dental implants eventually fuse with your jawbone over the span of several months, it won’t make noise, slip, or cause bone damage the way dentures or bridgework might. Dental implants also enable natural speech, look and feel like your own teeth, make eating easier, and improves your appearance. However, the surgery may involve several stages, and, in some cases, it may require two separate visits to the clinic to complete.
What does the Procedure Involve?
Dental implant surgery generally requires several stages. Each stage may be performed under general or local anesthetic. The first stage is removing the damaged tooth. Then, if your jawbone is too soft or not thick enough, your dentist may perform bone grafting to create a more solid base for the implant. The bone graft may be natural (taken from another part of your body) or synthetic (a bone-substitute material). If you only need minor bone grafting, the implant surgery can be performed on the same day. However, if you need a significant amount of bone graft, the implant surgery may have to be postponed until the transplanted bone grows enough new bone to support the dental implant.
The next stage after the damaged tooth removal and bone graft (if you need one) is placing the dental implant. To do this, your dentist makes an incision to expose the bone and puts the metal implant post deep into the bone. At this stage, you will still have a gap where your tooth is missing. Your dentist will place a temporary denture for appearance. Once the metal implant post is placed, osseointegration begins. This is a process where the jawbone grows into the surface of the implant and can take several months to complete. After osseointegration complete, your dentist will place the abutment, which is a small connector post that will hold your new tooth. The final stage, after the abutment is placed, is placing the crown, which is the tooth-looking part. You can choose between a removable crown and a fixed crown.
How Long Should I Stay in the Area?
Each stage of dental implant surgery is done in separate appointments. After each appointment, you should be able to leave the hospital or clinic right away. However, you should stay in the local area for at least 2 weeks for completion of the work and the initial recovery and follow-up checkups.
What’s the Recovery Time?
There is no specific recovery timeline for dental implant surgery as it depends on your unique condition. In general, you need to rest as much as possible for a couple of days following each appointment. When the whole procedure is finished and the permanent crown is placed, it may take several weeks to get used to the feel and shape of the implant.
What About Aftercare?
After each stage of surgery, you may have to eat soft foods. Since you may experience swelling, bruising, pain, and minor bleeding, your dentist will prescribe pain medications or antibiotics to help ease your discomfort. During your recovery period, you need to avoid smoking as it can contribute to implant failure and complications.
No special care is required for dental implants. Nonetheless, you need to practice good oral hygiene in order to maintain the implant and your remaining natural teeth. Make sure to brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily, and rinse your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash. You also need to see your dentist regularly and avoid damaging habits, such as chewing hard items.
What’s the Success Rate?
Most dental implants are successful. The success rate of dental implant surgery is as high as 95%. However, you do need to follow your dentist’s instructions and care for your oral hygiene properly to maintain positive results.
It is also important to note that risks of complications and side effects are possible, which may include implant failure, nerve injury, infection, sinus problems, as well as damage to surrounding structures, such as other teeth or blood vessels.
Are there Alternatives to Dental Implants?
If you are not a candidate for dental implant surgery, or you simply do not want to undergo the procedure, you can opt for the alternatives. The alternatives include:
- Mini dental implants, which is a small type of dental implants. The structure is similar to regular dental implants, but are somewhat smaller in size. Unlike regular dental implants, dentists can often place mini implants only in one visit using local anesthesia. You may also be able to use your new teeth on the same day.
- A same-day implant is essentially similar to traditional dental implants. However, your dentist performs the whole process in just one day, skipping the process of wound healing and osseointegration.
- Implant-supported dentures or All-on-4 is an alternative if you need to fix a complete upper or lower set of teeth. During this procedure, four to six implants are placed into your jawbone as a base to attach and stabilize your denture.
For an in-depth analysis of the pros and cons of Dental Implants, the alternatives and before and after images, watch this short video
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