What are Dental Implants?
Medikoe Health Expert
Koramangala, bengaluru, karnataka, india, Bengaluru Feb 9, 2017
A dental implant is a surgical fixture that’s implanted into the jawbone for patients that have recently undergone tooth loss due to decay, injuries, or certain other tooth related diseases. The function of the implant is to act like an artificial tooth root on which the tooth replacement is placed, and in the process making it seem like you never lost a tooth at all.
Implants are an ideal solution, as they do not affect the nearby teeth and stand well on their own as well as have great stability. They are usually made of titanium, as the metal can be integrated into our bones without being recognized as a foreign object which in turn avoids infections due to rejection.
Types of Dental Implants
There are two types of implants.
Endosteal Implants: These are implants that are surgically placed into the jawbone. Once the gum tissue is entirely healed, another surgery is performed to connect a post onto the initial implant, on which they secure an artificial tooth individually, or the artificial teeth is grouped on a bridge or a denture.
Subperiosteal Implants: Unlike the endosteal ones, these implants are not fixed into the jawbone, but instead a metal frame is attached onto the jawbone right below the gum tissue. These metal frames have posts attached to them, and once the surrounding gum tissue heals, the frame is fixed on to the jawbone. Artificial teeth are then placed onto these attached posts protruding through the gums. In comparison to the endosteal implants, subperiosteal implants are rarely used due to poor long-term success rate.
Advantages of Dental Implants
Placing dental implants comes with its own set of advantages.
For starters, it feels like a real teeth and also functions like one and because of this you can chew your food peacefully and painlessly, unlike in the case of dentures where you would have to deal with minor discomfort due to the sliding of dentures.
The patient does not have to worry about his missing tooth as the implant is a permanent fixture, which means he or she does not have to deal with discomfort that one usually faces with temporary or removable dentures. In the end, it would seem like you never lost your tooth in the first place.
Dental implants help avoid issues that come with loss of teeth. For example, sometimes when you lose your tooth it affects your speech causing you to slur or have a lisp. The same can be said in case of wearing misfit dentures. Implants help improve such conditions and return your speech back to normal.
Having dental implants also ensures a better and improved oral health. Alternative procedures such as tooth-supported bridge require reducing other teeth, unlike in the case of implant where the surrounding teeth remain untouched and unaffected.
Implants are much more convenient than dentures, as they are permanent and one does not have to go through the trouble of removing them for cleaning, having to find adhesives to ensure that it stick or various other inconveniences that come with having dentures or tooth-supported bridges.
Possible Risks of Dental Implant
With time the process of placing dental implants have progressed and it now has a 98% success rate, but like every other surgery even this procedure has its own set of risks or potential complications such as :
Infections at the implant site
Dental implant being fractured
Damage to the nerves, blood vessels or teeth surrounding the implant
Improper or poor placement of the dental implant
Possible nerve damage that could cause pain or tingling in your gums, teeth, lips, or chin.
Sinus problems if the ones paced in the upper jaw extends to the sinus cavities.
Improper maintenance of oral hygiene by the patient post the implant surgery
Should there be a failure in the dental implant, then the patient can undergo another procedure to replace it once the gums have healed from the initial procedure.
Steps To Be Taken Before Undergoing The Procedure
Before undergoing the process of placing dental implants the patient has to visit an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to check the health condition of the mouth and jaw, periodontist to check the condition of the gums and bones and prosthodontist as following the placement of implants, the patient needs to fit in artificial tooth or teeth. On certain occasions the patient might also have to consult an ENT should there be a risk of affecting the nerves or the sinus cavity.
Prior to the procedure the surgeon conducts a proper dental exam and evaluations to avoid complications and risks. This include:
Taking dental X-rays and 3D images as well as constructing the model of your teeth and jaw to make the right calculations required.
The surgeon has to check in factors such as the position of the missing tooth, quantity and quality of the jawbone where the implant is to be placed, and health of the patient. In case of the poor quality in the jawbone, the implant is removed and then the patient undergoes bone grafting following which a new dental implant is placed.
Review the patient for any bleeding disorders, possible infections or allergies, existing medical conditions and medications including prescription and over-the-counter drugs and supplements.
Making a proper and efficient treatment plan, based on various factors such as the number of teeth that require replacement, and other factors.
The Tooth Implant Process
Implant surgery has various steps involved after the analysis of possible risks and complications. They are-
Removal of the damaged tooth or teeth: The site where the implant is to be placed is prepared for the process. Therefore, the damaged tooth at the site or the remains of the lost tooth are removed
Bone grafting: In certain cases the quantity of the jawbone is not sufficient or the quality of the bone is not good enough to support an implant. In such cases the patient undergoes a procedure called bone grafting, where the jawbone is rebuilt using natural bone grafts from another part of the body or synthetic bone grafts. This process may take up to several months.
Placement of the dental implant: This is done by drilling holes into the jawbone and then placing the tooth root implant post deep into the jaw bone.
Bone growth and healing: Post the implant surgery, the gums and the jawbone has to be healed before moving onto the next step. This process can take many months.
Abutment placement: An abutment is a protrusion through the gums on which the artificial tooth will be placed. This process takes about two weeks to heal.
Artificial tooth placement: This is the process where the artificial tooth is placed on the abutment. This can be either fixed tooth or a removable one.
Post the surgery one might deal with certain side effects like swelling in the gums, skin or gum bruising, minor bleeding and pain at the site of surgery.
Care To Be Taken Following The Procedure
Although there has been a high success rate when it comes to the dental implant procedure, a patient can help add to its success and make the implant long-lasting by being a little more careful and practising good oral hygiene. This could be done by brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day to keep food debris and plaque away, using the right type of toothbrushes that reach all around your teeth and ensure that its cleanliness is maintained.
If the patient is a smoker, then care has to be taken to avoid smoking as it can weaken the bone structure which would then lead to implant failure. To take further care, the patient has to regularly visit his dentist for follow up and other regular check-ups. Ideally, if the patient undergoes cleaning and exams every six months , it can ensure that the implant remains in a good condition.
The patient also needs to be careful about the type of food that he intakes. Don’t chew on hard foods like candy that could weaken the structure of the dental crown or your existing natural teeth.
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