What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are an option to replace missing teeth and provide a fixed solution to removable dentures. Dental implants are natural-looking replacement teeth that are fixed in the jaw. Implant treatment provides an option to correct the most troublesome cases associated with missing teeth and ill-fitting dentures.
An artificial tooth root made of titanium, an implant is surgically placed into the jawbone to support tooth-replacement structures such as crowns, bridges and dentures. While the implant mimics the root of the tooth, the replacement structure looks and feels just like a natural tooth, providing patients with a permanent solution that replicates the fit and feel of natural teeth.
Benefits Of Dental Implants
Dental implants have many benefits over other tooth-replacement methods.
Implants are placed within the gums. The crowns that are attached to them emerge in a manner similar to a natural tooth. This offers a more realistic and natural look compared to other alternatives.
Reduction Of Bone Loss
When a tooth is lost, the supporting bone structure gradually recedes over time. Dental implants integrate with the jawbone and stimulate its preservation, allowing the bone to stay healthy and intact while maintaining natural facial contours and appearance.
Preservation Of Adjacent Teeth
Other methods like fixed bridges must be anchored to adjacent teeth, unnecessarily sacrificing their quality and health. Dental implants are independent and do not rely on the support of other teeth, thus providing the ability to preserve the good teeth.
As the jawbone shrinks, chewing efficiency is reduced, making it difficult to eat certain foods. Dental implants can restore chewing efficiency comparable to that of natural teeth, allowing patients to eat their favorite foods with confidence and without discomfort.
The Dental Implant Procedure
All treatment begins with a thorough exam and consultation. Typically, the process can take from 3 to 6 months. In some cases, the process may take longer because additional treatments, such as bone grafting, may be required to build up the bone so it can support an implant. The procedure and time frame depends on several factors:
- Condition and quality of the jawbone
- Number of teeth involved
Dental implant restorations usually take place over a few appointments and involve several steps:
The First Step
A dentist or oral surgeon will cut into the gum to expose the bone. One or more implants are precisely placed into the jawbone to mirror the location of the root of the missing natural tooth.
The Second Step
After appropriate healing has taken place to allow for the implant to fuse within the bone, impressions of the teeth and bite are taken to custom-fabricate a connector post or abutment, and crown.
The Final Step
At the final appointment, the oral surgeon reopens the gum to expose the implant. The abutment and crown are attached to the implant, completing the process.
Some patients may experience minor soreness after the dental implant procedure which can be treated with over the counter ibuprofen medication.
Most healthy adults are good candidates for the dental implant procedure. This technique can be sought for single-tooth replacement, multiple tooth replacement, or for full-mouth reconstruction using implant-supported dentures. Historically, dental implants were best suited to patients with a sufficient amount of natural bone height and density. Today, patients who have experienced a fair amount of bone resorption can still be good candidates for dental implants. In this situation, the dentist may recommend bone grafting to build up the jawbone so the titanium posts receive an adequate amount of stabilization.
Who is an ideal candidate for dental implants?
How long does the dental implant procedure take?
It takes one-and-a-half to two hours to place a single dental implant. Patients who are receiving multiple implants can expect to be in the office for several hours. Overall, the entire process of getting dental implants, from start to finish, can take three to six months. This is because there is an interim during which the implant posts are left to integrate into surrounding bone tissue. The process can sometimes take longer if the patient also needs bone grafting before their jawbone is ready to receive the titanium posts.
How to prepare for dental implants?
Proper preparation for dental implants can support an optimal outcome. Before this procedure, the dentist performs a comprehensive dental exam and consultation to discuss recommendations, time-frame, and expected results. If you smoke, your dentist will advise you to quit. Smoking inhibits the oxygenation of tissue, so presents a unique risk to healing. You may also need to take a few days off work and should be prepared to take some time off from strenuous exercise. Before your appointment to get dental implants, you should also stock up on soft, healthy foods that do not require a lot of biting and chewing.
Recovery and Aftercare for Dental Implants
After your dental implants have been situated and covered with gum tissue, you may experience swelling both in the gums and of the face. Minor bleeding and soreness are normal. Bleeding is usually very light. Your dentist may recommend applying a sterile gauze pad with very gentle pressure if necessary. To manage discomfort, you can take an approved medication and may also apply a cold compress to the cheek over the area of soreness. For the first week of recovery after your dental implant procedure, you will need to eat soft foods and also avoid strenuous activities.
Are there any risks to getting dental implants?
Dental implant treatment is a minor oral surgery. As such, it comes with similar risks as any other surgery. It is rare for a patient to experience complications from dental implant surgery. If problems do occur, they are usually minor and easy to correct. Risks that are associated with dental implants include:
- Injury to surrounding teeth or blood vessels
- Implant rejection
- Sinus problems from implants placed in the upper jaw
Dr. Mahal is dedicated to training and expanding her skills as a general and cosmetic dentist. Her educational background and continued participation in advanced training increase the likelihood of optimal results for her dental implant patients.
Dental Implant Results
Patients receive all the benefits of natural teeth with their dental implants. It is important to continue good oral hygiene with the implants to prevent bacteria buildup, which can cause gum disease or bone loss.