A dental implant is a metal post covered by an artificial tooth. It is usually fixed in the gum line, for the purpose of keeping the remaining teeth intact. Dental implants are usually made of titanium that enables them to be attached to bone without being seen as a foreign object. They are usually fixed in close resemblance with the natural teeth. Over the years, science and technology have contributed to the high rate of a successful dental implant.
Why Dental Implants are Done
A dental implant is done for many reasons;
- To replace a missing tooth or teeth.
- Not able or willing to wear dentures.
- Jawbone is strong enough to hold the implant and adequate to secure the implant.
- There is a need to improve your speech.
- Free of health conditions that will hinder bone healing.
- For people who have lost their teeth due to gum decay or old age.
Types of Dental Implants
There are two types of dental implants that are mostly used. Namely, Endosteal and Subperiosteal. The endosteal implant is usually fixed in the bone, while Subperiosteal is usually fixed on top of the jaw bone. However, due to the Subperiosteal short-term effect, it is hardly in use today.
Dental Implant Procedure
The procedure is usually followed step by step over a few months.
- Consulting and Planning – At the first stage, consulting a dental implant dentist is a necessary step to be taken. The dental surgeon examines the part of the mouth for the implant by assessing the quality and quantity of the jawbone. At the same time, the surgeon looks at dental imaging studies (X-rays or CT scans). The dental implant dentist will discuss with you if a bone graft is needed or not. And also take you through possible changes to expect during further processes.
- The next step that follows often involves the removal of a tooth or teeth. Most sites where a dental implant is to be placed usually have a broken tooth that needed to be removed. Anesthesia or sedative is usually given to the patient to ease anxiety.
- A bone graft may be needed if the jawbone where the implant is to be done, does not have sufficient bone that supports it or it’s too soft. This is done by removing a small amount of bone from another part of the body and fixing it into the jawbone through surgery. Sometimes, a synthetic bone graft, like bone-substitute material that can support the dental plant is used.
- Placement of dental implant post – During surgery, your dental surgeon makes a cut that exposes the bone. The position where the metal implant will be fixed is drilled and the implant is positioned deep into the bone. This shows a gap of a missing tooth. A temporary denture can be used to give you a better appearance.
- Osseointegration – After the dental implant post has been placed, the jawbone grows at a pace to which the surface of the dental implant is reached. This gives a strong foundation for your new artificial tooth. This process usually takes several months. The process is known as Osseointegration.
- When the Osseointegration phase is over, your surgeon will place an abutment (this is where the crown will be attached) by reopening your gum to reveal the dental implant and attach the abutment to the dental implant. The gum is then covered around the abutment. Sometimes, the abutment is placed on the dental implant post immediately after the fixation of the metal post. With this, there will be no additional surgery step required. However, in this case, the abutment placed becomes obvious when talking. Some people don’t like this appearance, and would rather prefer a separate surgical operation to place the abutment. There must be a break of at least four weeks for the gum to heal before placing the artificial tooth.
- New realistic-looking artificial teeth/tooth – Placement of the artificial tooth is done after the gum must have healed. You and your dental surgeon can decide to choose the removable or fixed artificial tooth or a combination of both. For a removable tooth, it’s placed on a metal frame that is fixed with the abutment, and it snaps tightly into place. It can easily be removed for daily cleaning or for repair. The fixed artificial tooth cannot be removed when you want to sleep, for repair and neither for daily cleaning. In this case, an artificial tooth is permanently screwed onto the implant abutment.
There might be a need to take medication or see your dental surgeon (in severe cases) due to discomforts that you may likely feel after undergoing the procedures. Some discomforts may be minor bleeding, bruised skin or pain/infection at the implanted joint.
Most dental surgeries are usually successful. However, there are some care tips to follow after oral surgery;
- Do not Smoke – A person should stop smoking after a dental implant operation. Smoking can cause the bone structure to be weak and lead to implant failure.
- Dentist Visit – Visiting your dentist regularly, every six months will help determine if the implant is in a good shape or condition. This will also assist in the healthy and proper functioning of the implant.
- Good oral hygiene – Ensure to maintain good oral hygiene by brushing twice daily and floss once daily. Keep Artificial teeth clean just like your natural teeth. You can use special brushes like the interdental brush that can help clean nooks and crannies between teeth, metal posts and gum.
- Keep good eating habits – Avoid chewing on hard objects such as hard candy. As they can damage your crown or natural tooth.
Are Dental Implants Permanent?
The lifespan of a dental implant is usually twenty-five years and above if proper and adequate care is used. Know more about permanent dental implants on the link. Dental implants are usually long-lasting. However, the duration which dental implant will last for is dependent on the following factors;
- How professional your dentist is, in fixing your dental implants. It involves the ability to determine if the jawbone has fully absorbed the implant.
- Individual’s health and lifestyle.
- Cleaning habit.
Replacing an old implant in most cases is usually not necessary. Unless it is damaged or it has developed an infection. However, according to the America Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons(AAOMS), dental implants are of a ninety-five percent average success rate.