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Everything You Need To Know About Dental Implants

By Dr. Aastha Chandra



When a tooth is lost due to an injury or a disease, a person can experience complications such as rapid bone loss, defective speech, or changes in chewing patterns that result in discomfort. Replacing a lost tooth with a dental implant can significantly improve the patient’s quality of life and health.

What Are Dental Implants?

The dental implant is most often a titanium screw which acts as a replacement and the closest replica of the root of a missing tooth. This “artificial tooth root” serves to hold a replacement tooth or bridge. It has great stability and does not take any support from the adjacent teeth. Dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth, several teeth, or all of the teeth.

An implant surgery can offer a welcome alternative to dentures which are removable and usually extremely ill-fitting or bridgework that involves the inclusion and shaping of the adjacent teeth for support.

Why Do You Need A Dental Implant?

The goal of teeth replacement is to restore function as well as aesthetics. Dental implants are conservative and the missing teeth can be replaced without affecting or altering the adjacent teeth. Furthermore, because dental implants integrate into the bone structure, they are very stable and can have the look and feel of one’s own natural teeth.

Benefits Of A Dental Implant:

  • Improves chewing as they function like own teeth as compared to sliding dentures.
  • Restores cosmetic appearance and self esteem.
  • Restores speech.
  • Prevents shrinking of jawbone due to bone loss.
  • Preserves the health of the surrounding bone and gums.
  • Enhances stability of the adjacent teeth.
  • Eliminates the discomfort of removable dentures.
  • Improves oral health as they don’t require reducing other teeth like tooth-supported bridges. Because nearby teeth are not altered to support the implant, more of your own teeth are left intact, improving long-term oral health.
  • Improved durability as the implants integrate with the bone and are almost a permanent replacement of missing teeth.
  • Improved convenience as they are a fixed alternative as compared to dentures that are removable.

Contraindications For Dental Implant Placement:

The common belief that the lack of bone precludes dental implants placement is no longer true. With advancements in bone grafting materials and techniques, a lack of bone is no longer a contraindication. Neither is advanced age a contraindication.

The following are categories of patients who require special considerations prior to placement of teeth implants:

1) Uncontrolled diabetes.

2) Heavy smokers.

3) Radiotherapy of head and neck for cancer treatment.

4) Patients on bisphonates for breast cancer and osteoporosis treatment.

Procedure Of Dental Implants:

The first step in the dental implant process is the development of an individualized treatment plan. The plan addresses your specific needs and is dependant on the amount of height, width and density of jaw bone available as well as an underlying medical conditions, or past dental history, if any.

Next, the tooth implant, which is a small post made of titanium, is placed into the bone socket of the missing tooth. As the jawbone heals, it grows around the implant, anchoring it securely in the jaw. The healing process can take from 6 to 12 weeks or more if any accessory bone augmentation procedures are carried out.

Once the implant has bonded to the jawbone, a small connector post called an abutment is attached to the implant to securely hold the new tooth. To make the new teeth, impressions of your teeth are made, bite is recorded and a shade matching your natural teeth is selected. A replacement tooth, called a crown, is then attached to the abutment.

Recovery, Follow Up And After Care:

Dental implants require the same care as real teeth, including brushing, flossing, rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash, and regular dental check-ups.

Dental implant recovery depends on a number of factors, one of which includes the various procedures required to complete your treatment. However, it is generally recognized that once an implant has been placed, maintaining diligent oral hygiene habits helps ensure proper integration with bone structure. Failure to floss and brush can contribute to failure of the treatment. Infection can occur if the implant and surrounding areas are not cleaned properly. Smoking is attributed to high failure rates and should be avoided following implant procedures.

If provisional restorations were placed along with the implant(s), it will be important to clean them as you would your natural teeth to ensure the best possible healing and fusing.

After the initial surgical procedure, discomfort should be minimal. Swelling of your gums and face may occur, as well as minor bleeding and bruising of the implant site. Prescription pain medications may be prescribed by your dentist to relieve any pain or discomfort you feel after the procedure. For 5 to 7 days after surgery, your diet should be restricted to soft foods. If stitches are present, they may need to be removed, however, self-dissolving stitches that do not require removal are typically used.

If properly planned and maintained, implants are an almost permanent replacement of your original teeth and should definitely be considered if you are suffering from single or multiple missing teeth.

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