Dental implants are considered by many to be a much better method of fixing missing teeth than using bridges or dentures. While this procedure has an incredibly high success rate and is extremely common, some people are still very wary of getting dental implants. Here’s everything you need to know in order to make the right decision in whether or not to get dental implants.
Dental implants are artificial teeth designed to replace missing teeth. Instead of simply attaching to the gums with glue-like dentures, they are surgically implanted. Dental implants attach to your jawbone using artificial titanium roots that screw into place in order to create plenty of strength and stability while chewing. The rods firmly connect to crowns that look identical to natural teeth.
A well-crafted dental implant looks virtually indistinguishable from natural teeth. You can smile, eat, talk, and more without anyone ever noticing that some of your teeth are missing.
Unlike dentures, which can slip, fall out, and can’t be used to eat certain foods, dental implants are strongly attached to your jawbone and naturally molded into your gums. Anything you can do with natural teeth, you can do with dental implants.
Preserve Your Jawbone
Without the tooth to provide strength and protect the open hole from exposure, the jawbone starts to deteriorate. In extreme cases, the bone loss resulting from a missing tooth can affect your facial structure. The artificial roots of a dental implant help restore the strength, health, and stability of the jawbone. A dental implant can even help reverse damage already done by a missing tooth by promoting the growth of bone around the artificial root.
Out of all of the options for tooth replacement, dental implants are definitely the most durable. Not only are they designed to withstand all of the wear and tear of normal functioning teeth, but they don’t need to be replaced very often. In addition, the replacement of an implant only involves replacing the crown, not the entire implant. The titanium rods that make up the artificial roots will last forever. Replacing crowns is very quick and easy to do, and you can go upwards of 15 years without needing to replace them.
Dental implants require no more maintenance than your natural teeth. Brush and floss twice a day, don’t eat too many sugary foods and visit your dentist once every six months for a cleaning and examination to ensure that your crowns last as long as possible.
Dental implants require surgery in order to be properly installed in your jaw. Like with any surgery, there are risks of complications that could negatively impact your health. You will experience some lasting pain as a result of the surgery, you might experience some side effects from the anesthesia like vomiting, dizziness, nausea, and muscle aches, and you will have to set aside some time for bed rest to help you recover.
Dental implants are the most expensive option for replacing missing teeth due to the fact that the hardware is meant to be permanent and requires surgery to install. Most dental implant procedures easily cost several thousand dollars, and they’re not usually covered by insurance.
Lengthy Healing Process
In addition to the normal recovery time from an average surgery, you will need to cope with several months of healing in your bones and gums in between the steps of the procedure before your implants are firmly rooted in your mouth. The collective amount of healing time from implants is anywhere from six months to a year.
Examination and Consultation
Your dentist will need to perform x-rays, take any other additional images, and create molds of your teeth to prep for the procedure. You will discuss any existing medical conditions and prescribed medications that might increase your risk factors of complications in surgery or possible infections. In addition, you will make a plan about your implants and establish important information such as how many implants you want, whether you want removable or fixed crowns, and what kind of anesthesia you prefer.
Extraction, If Necessary
If the tooth has not yet been fully removed, your dentist will perform an extraction. At this stage, the dentist will likely just use a local anesthetic to numb the area to prepare for extraction. The extraction process itself does not usually take long. You will feel pressure and movement, but you shouldn’t experience any pain.
Bone Grafting, If Necessary
If your jawbone has been evaluated as being too soft or brittle to support the implant, you will have to undergo bone grafting. This procedure can be done with either real bone taken from your body or with synthetic bone. If the necessary graft is minor, this part can be done during the implant procedure.
Installing the Rods
After administering the anesthetic, your dentist will make an incision on your gum that is wide enough to expose the jawbone. The dentist will then drill into the bone to create a spot for the implants. The titanium rods will be inserted into the holes and secured to the bone.
There will be a period of healing for the bone and gums. The amount of time needed before you’re ready for the next step can be several months.
The abutment is the piece of your implants that connects to the crown. Sometimes, the abutment can be installed during the installation of the rods, but it commonly needs to be done on a separate appointment. Local anesthesia is administered and the gum is reopened to expose the bone and the rods. The abutment is then installed on the rods, and the gums are carefully closed around the abutment.
Crown Creation and Installation
Once your gums and jawbone have healed enough from the preceding surgeries, you will finally be able to get your crowns. You will have molds taken of your mouth and crowns will be created to match the surrounded teeth. Once the crowns have been made, they are quickly and easily attached to the abutment.
If you underwent full anesthesia, you’ll be groggy and disoriented for a while after the surgery. You should have someone there with you to drive you home.
You’ll experience some pain, bruising, bleeding, sensitivity, and swelling in the area of the implant. Ice packs, warm washcloths, and ibuprofen will help reduce pain and swelling. You should only eat soft foods, soup, and other liquid foods like yogurt during your recovery. It’s a good idea to avoid smoking and chewing tobacco since they slow down the healing process and increase your risk of infection. Proper brushing, flossing, and rinsing with salt water helps reduce the chances of infection.
In terms of recovery time, everyone heals at different rates, and some implant procedures are more involved than others depending on what needs to be done. Your stitches should either dissolve or be set for removal within one or two weeks after surgery.
Most patients are back to their normal eating patterns within two weeks of the final procedure, but it’s not uncommon for some people to need four or more weeks on a diet of soft and liquid foods before they’re comfortable enough to get back to normal.