Dental implants have practically ushered in a revolution in the field of dental medicine. Earlier, you had no option but to use dentures if you lost most of your teeth. Also, it was understood that you’d need to be very careful when using dentures, and certain foods were a big no-no! But with dental implants, you don’t need to put up with any of these inconveniences anymore.
Dental implants have surged in popularity over the years because of the many benefits and conveniences they offer. For those with missing teeth, implants have become a serious option to consider over dentures or bridges. Of course they are a bit more expensive than bridgework or dentures, but the long-term advantages justify the cost.
Dental Implants: What are they?
- Implants are replacements of dental roots
- Implants provide a strong foundation for teeth
- Implants help support bridgework
- Implants provide support to the jawbone
- Implants promote oral health
A person can lose teeth because of several reasons such as injury, gum disease etc. No matter what the reason for your teeth loss is, you can consider implants. The dentist will perform an initial examination to ascertain whether you are a suitable candidate for implants, and after that you are good to go.
A dental implant is a titanium screw that is fused to the jawbone. This accounts for the strong foundation that the implant provides. It is also because of this that an implant practically is a permanent replacement for your natural tooth and can promote oral hygiene that would be difficult to accomplish with other dental work such as bridges. Implants fuse with the jawbone and are connected with the gum tissues. This makes it a sturdy option and prevents the tooth from coming loose or falling off.
Procedure of placing implants
With dental implants, there is no one size fits all approach, as the specific needs vary from patient to patient. Medical professionals trained in restorative dentistry will be able to make the right call about which approach to take. The dentist will talk to the patient, over several sessions if required, to deeply understand their specific requirements and needs. Once both patient and doctor come to an agreement about the implant procedure and the expected results, then the next phase begins.
The implantation procedure involves surgically placing a titanium root in the socket of the missing teeth. When the jawbone heals, it grows around the implant and holds it firmly in place. This helps provide the strong foundation the teeth needs. The surgery is typically done under local anaesthesia and is relatively fast and easy. After implantation, the gums and jawbone would need about four months for healing. If there is pain after the procedure, the dentist will prescribe pain-relief medication.
Once the implant has healed and permanently set into the jawbone, the tooth crown can be placed. The dentist will now take impression of your teeth in preparation for replacing it. The colour of the teeth crown will be matched to that of your natural teeth, so they look natural and virtually indistinguishable from your other teeth. Because the implant is fixed to the jawbone, the teeth will work and feel exactly like natural teeth.
During the procedure, you may need to wear temporary dentures during the time the implants are healing. The dentist will fit and adjust the dentures so you can wear them without much discomfort.
Different types of dental implants
There are mainly two types of dental implants – implants done in the bone and implants done on the bone. Implant done in the bone is the most common type.
Implant in the bone is a surgical procedure usually done using screws or blades. It can hold one or more prosthetic teeth and is generally done for patients with removable dentures.
Implants done on the bone, are placed on top of the jaw. This is usually done for patients who are unable to use the common type of dentures, or if they do not have the minimal bone height required for an in the bone procedure.
Benefits of dental implants
- Implants work and feel like natural teeth. They help improve appearance and self-esteem.
- There is no fear of teeth falling off as in the case of poorly fitted dentures.
- It helps in improved speech and also gets rid of problems related to chewing and eating.
- Implants are long lasting and hence provide maximum convenience.
- With implants, it is also easy to maintain oral health and hygiene.
- Implants protect and provide support to the healthy bone structure of the mouth.
- Implants need not be removed like dentures, they are firmly fixed in the mouth.
It should also be remembered that implants demand that some pre-requisites in terms of health are met by the patient. Patients should have gums that are healthy enough to undergo this procedure. This is usually determined when the dentist conducts a detailed dental examination at the start of the procedure. During assessment, the patient must openly discuss any health issues he or she may be suffering from.
During dental examination, it is very important that you have all the documents and information pertaining to your health. If you are taking any medicine or have undergone any other procedure before, it is important that you inform this to the dentist. If you are taking medication, then that also needs to be informed as this may have an effect of the procedure.
It is also important that you discuss the complete treatment plan, the cost of the procedure, what you can expect during and after the procedure etc.
After the implant: how to care for them
Proper care and follow up with dentists is required after the procedure. Dentists will work with each patient to develop an individualised plan to make sure that dental implants are properly cared and provide lasting benefits to the patient.
Dental implants are like natural teeth, and they need to be cared for like natural teeth. Brushing twice daily and flossing once a day is very important to maintain good oral hygiene. You can also check with your doctor about this. They will help you with pertinent information on how to clean around implants and thus maintain good oral health.
Without proper care, neglected teeth often develop a coating. This will lead to gum diseases, infection and soreness in the mouth region. So it is of vital importance that you care for your implants and natural teeth. If you have concerns on how best to take care of your teeth, you can check with your dentist and they can guide you on this matter.
You don’t need to worry if the dental implants are going to come off – usually that does not happen. But in the rare case that it does, go to your dentist immediately. They will remove the loose implant and provide treatment. You then need to wait for the jaw to heal before the implant can be placed again.
Quitting smoking is very important to obtain the maximum benefits of dental implants. Smoking will contribute to reduced oral hygiene and health. That’s not all. It will also weaken the jaw bone structure and thus reduce the benefits of implants.
Dental implants are similar to natural teeth, so they can get damaged in exactly the same way as normal teeth – by injury or accidents. While playing sports, the risk of injury is high. Use mouth guards to reduce the impact on teeth. If only the teeth (or crowns rather) are damaged, then only the teeth need to be removed from the implant and replaced.
Implants for all
Dental implants are done as a restorative method for missing teeth, so there is no categorisation on who can use dental implants. As with adults having problems of missing teeth, children can also benefit from dental implants.
Many people shy away from going through dental implants procedure because dentures generally cost less, and they can be fitted quickly. But there is also the concern that dentures do not last long. While they do not have the waiting time like dental implants and are easily available, they are not permanent option like implants.
If you have missing teeth and are considering implants, do some research on the different alternatives available before deciding on the best suitable method.
This post was written by Letooth