Several months ago we published a blog post outlining the biggest benefits of having dental implants done. As a follow-up to that bit of information that we hope has been useful, we wanted to elaborate more on what dental implants really are and what needs to be considered when evaluating your options for any type of cosmetic dentistry procedure.
What are Dental Implants?
Natural permanent teeth are secured by the root. Due to aging, various health problems and accidents, your natural teeth may need replacement. Dental implants act as the foundation onto which the crown or bridge will be secured. The implants are placed permanently in the mouth. Because the implant is fused or is integrated with the jawbone, it gives a very sturdy foundation for the tooth or bridge. The main benefit of dental implants is that it feels and functions like your natural teeth. As a result, once the gum and jawbone are healed, you shouldn’t even notice any difference from your natural teeth in terms of discomfort.
How Are Dental Implants Placed?
Securing an implant requires a team of dental experts: surgical specialists, a dental laboratory technician and a restorative dentist. The dental surgical specialists will be in charge of placing the customized implants into the jawbone and tooth socket. It will take about two to six months for the implant to fuse with the bone. Once the affected area is completely healed, a restorative dentist places the tooth crown, which has been carefully crafted by a qualified dental laboratory technician.
Different Types of Implant Placement
Dental implants are commonly made from titanium, but not all implants are the same. There are two general types of implants depending on their placement in the mouth: endosteal implants and subperiosteal implants. Endosteal implants are the most commonly used implants. They resemble small and narrow screws that are placed within the jawbone. Some endosteal implants resemble flat plates and short, rigged cylinders to fit individuals with a shallow jawbone.
The height and width of endosteal implants vary to accommodate various cases of dental concerns. They remain permanent within the jawbone unless removed by surgery. Subperiosteal implants are placed under the gums and above the jawbone. They are placed according to the curve of the jawbone where the dentures will be placed. This type of implant is ideal for those with a shallow jawbone. Some implant dentures are secured using this subperiosteal implant.
Who Can Get Dental Implants?
Not everyone is a candidate for this procedure. Because dental implants have to be drilled and secured firmly into the bone, the dentist has to be certain that the area will heal properly so the implants stay in place. The dentist may suggest other options to patients with health conditions such as diabetes and periodontal disease. Pregnant women are often advised not to get a dental implant for the meantime because a complete analysis requires a number of x-rays and CT scans.
How Important is Bone Density for this Procedure?
When getting dental implants, the dental surgeon will assess the bone density that surrounds the missing tooth. The teeth stimulate the bone around it (alveolar bone), helping it maintain its density. When a tooth is lost, the bone loses stimulation as well, causing it to regress. Within a year of no stimulation, the alveolar bone loses about 25% of its width. After a significant loss in alveolar bone matter, the basal bone of the jawbone begins to regress as well.
In cases where the bone density isn’t enough to secure dental implants, dental surgeons have the choice to either graft bone matter into the tooth socket or stimulate the socket in order for the bone to grow until it can support the dental implant.
How are implants different from dentures and bridges?
A dental implant is a permanent fixture made from titanium. A dental crown is then secured to the implant once the site has healed. A dental bridge consists of two crowns at each end that is bonded to the natural teeth. A filler tooth is secured between the crowns to fill in the gap due to a missing tooth. Partial and full dentures are attached temporarily to the lower or upper arch of the mouth. Some dentists attach implants into the jaw bone and gums so the dentures have small titanium knobs to attach unto. This removable denture is often referred to as implant dentures. For individuals who have lost all their upper or lower teeth, implant dentures makes a good substitute for ordinary dentures and dental implants.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Implants
Once it has fused with the jawbone, a dental implant is permanently secured into place unless an oral surgeon removes it through invasive surgery. Although it takes around two to six months for the area to heal, dental implants are more convenient. They also secure implant dentures better. Tooth crowns secured to dental implants are more durable than ordinary bridges and dentures. They function and feel like your real teeth so you can go on with day-to-day living without worrying about your teeth. You can also save a lot of time and money in the long run because you won’t need to devote extra time to clean your new implants.
However, not everyone is a candidate for dental implants. If the patient has certain health conditions, they will be advised to consider other dental procedures. Patients have to undergo a number of screenings and book several appointments. The area where the implant is secured can take up to six months to heal. Within the first few weeks after the surgery, the patient will be advised to avoid solid foods. In most cases, patients will need to plan on being absent for work or other obligations for at least 2 days in order for their body to heal and get rid of the traces of anesthesia. Additional expenses may also incurred by the oral and topical medicines. Even with the associated costs, dental implants are very worthwhile for the right candidates, when you consider the security and convenience dental they can offer you.
What to Avoid
A few hours after the surgery, the dentist will advise to put an ice pack over the affected area. For 3 days, avoid brushing your teeth because you can irritate the wound. Rather, gargle using an antibacterial mouthwash. Your dentist will give you specific instructions on how to clean and maintain your implants.
Are Dental Implants Generally Safe?
The success rate of patients who receive dental implants is extremely high, but still dependent on their specific condition. It is important to exercise due diligence when vetting out the right dentist and especially the dental lab they work with to get the implants built. The aftercare of the patient during the healing period will also play a role on how well the implant will fuse or integrate with the bone. If you have any questions or concerns regarding dental implants or other cosmetic dentistry procedures please feel free to call your dentist or contact us. We’d be glad to help.