What are dental implants?
Dental implants are tri-unit structures consisting of a crown, a titanium root, and a connecting abutment. Mainly, the unit is designed to replace lost roots and is inserted in the target area through a minimally-invasive surgical procedure that secures the placement of the structure in the jaw bone. The installation of the abutment and consequently the crown occurs after the bone as fully infused with the implanted root.
Patients may have a temporary crown placed until the fusion takes place. However, the permanent crown can only be placed after the bone and root have fused together and is made of a versatile range of materials speak with your dentist to find the material that suits your financial plan.
How do I prepare for dental implants?
Dental implants will require the collective and final decision of maxillofacial surgeon, a periodontist, and prosthodontist. Typically, a maxillofacial surgeon will evaluate the condition of the mouth, jaw, and face. A periodontist will examine the supportive structures of teeth such as gums and bones. Finally, a prosthodontist will carry out the procedure to design and fit the dental implants.
The evaluation process for dental implants requires three main categories:
1- A comprehensive dental evaluation:
This constitutes receiving dental x-rays and 3D imaging, as well as, as have molds and models of your teeth and jaw crafted.
2- A thorough review of your medical history:
Your doctor will request to learn the intricate details of your medical past. Here are some of the information you should never hide from your dentist. The medical conditions you have and how long you have had them, be explicit about any medications you take, whether prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Patients with heart conditions and orthopedic implants usually require the use of antibiotics prior to the beginning of the procedure to eliminate any risks of infection.
3- Treatment plan
The treatment plan is tailored around the needs and conditions of every individual patient. Your doctor will discuss your options with you, how many teeth you need to be replaced, the material of the crown, and sedative and anesthetic options.
How many teeth can dental implants replace?
Typically, one unit replaces one tooth. Based on the number of gaps and their adjacency, patients may need fewer dental implants than there are gaps. For instance, if a patient has three consecutive gaps, they may need only two implants and three crowns. The two implants are placed in the two ends, and a bridge of crowns is attached above it. This method provides equivalent support to individual implants at lower rates.
Will I feel any pain throughout the procedure?
Dental implants are elementary procedures; in essence, the surgical part alone may last anywhere between 15-20 minutes. Of course, the procedure length varies from one case to another, depending on complications in the process.
That being said, the procedure is performed under the effect of local anesthetic. Aside from the initial sting of the injection, no pain should be felt after. Whether you are familiar with dental anesthetics or not, it is not a cause for concern. Numbness will spread over the treated area; no sharp or painful effects will be felt. However, the numbness is exclusive to the pain; patients will feel the pressure applied and the movements of the dentist’s hands, as well as vibrations from the drilling.
For complex cases that require multiple implants, dentists might opt for sedatives in lieu of local anesthesia. The effect of sedatives varies entirely from local anesthetics. The former affects the entire body by making patients feel very tranquil and relaxed. Patients after sedation often have no memory of the procedure that occurred, therefore, making it ideal for patients with dentist phobias. Post-operative discomfort and pain are tackled with the use of over-the-counter painkillers and ice.
It is imperative that patients visit experienced dentists to ensure a safe procedure with no complications or discomfort.
What is bone grafting, and is it always required?
For starters, bone grafting is a process of replacing or strengthening the bone through transplanting bone tissue to the areas. Bones are typically capable of regenerating on their own, however, often grafting will be necessary if the jaw bone is not intact or does not possess the strength required to support and fuse with the dental implant. Upon scaffolding the jaw bone, the newly generated tissue possess more strength. Bone grafts are typically expected to be replaced in a few months as the natural bone heals over it.
For the second part of the question, whether implants are always necessary or not, well, it depends on the strength of your jawbone. The action of chewing and other typical oral activity exerts force on the bone, and if your bone is not strong enough to handle the pressure, the procedure will most likely be a waste of time and money for you. A graft is only necessary if you do not have a solid foundation for the implant to rely on.
There are a few materials utilized in bone grafting to rebuild a jaw bone. An autograft, for example, uses the patient’s bone tissue to rebuild the jawbone. Another popularly used alternative is synthetic bone grafts, a material that mimics the bone structure to increase circulation in the area and stimulate growth. The graft material will deteriorate in months to be replaced by newly made bone tissue.
For some, grafting will be required minimally, therefore, can be performed on the same day as the implant surgery.
How do you care for dental implants?
Dental implants are cared for after the same way natural teeth are. Brush twice daily, floss, and use saline water to rinse your mouth.
Can dental implants fail?
It is very rare for dental implants to fail. In most cases the procedure is successful. It could fail if the bone and titanium root did not fuse completely, in which case, the implant is removed, and the patient can try again in three months. It is best to abstain from smoking and consuming alcohol or keeping the consumption of either at a minimum not to hinder the fusion process.
What is the process and timescale of dental implants?
The jaw bone is drilled, and the implant is placed inside it. The next step of abutment placement is postponed until the bone and implant fuse together. This phase often takes anywhere between eight to ten weeks.
Placing the abutment
Some implants come with the abutment built-in. However, most do not prefer the protruding structure of the abutment and so opt for implants without the abutment. The placement of the abutment is a surgical procedure on its own and requires the opening of the gum to expose the implant underneath. The process involves the application of local anesthetic and is carried out in an outpatient setting.
Once the dental implant is exposed, the abutment is attached to the titanium root, and the gum is closed around the abutment without covering it. The gums require at least two weeks to heal after the placement of the abutment.
Artificial tooth placement
Once the gum heals, the new appointment will constitute impression-taking of the mouth to get the right measurements for the tooth. There is a versatile range of material from which the crown can be made, speak with your dentist about the available options for you and the options that will best meet your financial plan.
What to expect after the procedure?
Swelling around the face and of the gums is to be expected. Minor bruising may or may not occur. Pain and minor bleeding are to be expected. Your dentist will provide you will all the necessary information needed to help facilitate your recovery and alleviate your discomfort.