Dental implants have become popular as a result of successful advances in oral surgery techniques and improved bio-materials. Patients who have a clear understanding of dental implants can make informed choices about their treatment options.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are made of various bio-materials, usually titanium. These are surgically placed into the jawbone to anchor permanent replacement teeth. Replacement teeth are then attached to the part of the implant that projects from the gums. Approved and tested dental implant systems are very successful. In fact, some have lasted more than 20 years with a better than 90 percent success rate. Patients who have good oral hygiene habits and regular dental checkups can enjoy dental implants that last a lifetime.
How Do Dental Implants Work?
Dental implants replace the form and function of missing teeth. They support replacement teeth in the same way that your tooth roots support your natural teeth. Various replacement options are available. Dental implants can provide:
- Non-removable tooth replacements in the toothless jaw.
- Support for a full denture, making it more secure and comfortable.
- Support a fixed bridge, eliminating the need for a removable partial denture.
- Assistance in the replacement of a single tooth without the need to alter adjacent natural teeth.
What Does The Implant Procedure Involve?
First, you need to discuss your restorative options with your dentist. Dental implants are usually performed by a dental team consisting of a surgeon (oral and maxillofacial surgeon or periodontist) and restorative dentist. The first visit will consist of taking a medical and dental history and completing a thorough oral examination. X-rays of your remaining teeth and bone, intraoral photographs and impressions of your remaining teeth will be taken. The dental team will use this information to formulate a treatment plan. The second visit will consist of explaining and discussing your treatment options with you.
Before & After Photos of Dental Implants
Dental Implants Are A Three Step Process
The first step is the surgical placement of the implants into the bone. This is usually done in the dental office, but in some instances a brief hospital stay may be necessary. The surgery will be done with local anesthesia; a general anesthetic may be used to ensure your comfort during a surgery. After the implants are surgically placed into the bone, the gums are covered over the implants for a healing period of three to six months.
The second step is the surgical exposure of the top of the implant and attachment of the abutments to the implant. (The abutment attaches the implant to the prosthesis.) This is a short procedure and usually requires only local anesthesia.
The third step is the restorative phase. The restorative dentist will take impressions of your abutments, teeth and jaws. He or she will then fabricate a prosthesis that will attach to the implants. This will require several visits and may take a month to be completed.
What Are The Risks Of Dental Implant Surgery?
The risks of dental implant surgery are similar to other oral surgical procedures, which include bleeding and infection. Specific complications, such as sinus problems or numbness due to nerve injury, will be discussed by your dental team. Occasionally an implant may loosen from the bone, requiring it to be removed. Due to individual differences, implant success cannot be guaranteed.
What Are The Advantages Of Dental Implants?
Dental implants replace your missing teeth and help elevate your sense of self-confidence when you chew, talk or eat in public. Implants will give retention and stability to dentures, thus preventing sores or clicking noises when you talk. Implants eliminate the need to grind down adjacent natural teeth for bridgework. Implants can eliminate the need for a removable partial denture.
What Is The Recovery Period?
The recovery period will vary among individual patients, but may last one to two weeks; you may experience slight pain, bruising or swelling in the area of the surgery. Postoperative pain medication and antibiotics will be prescribed by the surgeon to aid the healing process. You may require a liquid diet during the first few days after the surgery.
Dental implants require a time commitment from three to nine months. They may also require additional oral hygiene home care for optimal maintenance. Finally, dental implants require a much greater financial investment than a removable bridge or conventional denture.
A Final Word About Dental Implants
Dental implants provide an opportunity to regain that comfort and feeling of security our natural teeth once provided. As with any procedure, we encourage you to discuss questions or concerns you may have about dental implants. Your smile is our first concern.