Before the advent of dental implants, the only options available for missing teeth were bridges or dentures. Today, dental implants provide a lifelong solution, allowing you to continue your daily life without giving a thought to the new addition(s) in your mouth. As long as you have healthy gums and adequate bone to support an implant, it’s a long-term solution to a problem.
What Is a Dental Implant?
Put simply, dental implants are artificial tooth roots which are used to support an artificial tooth or teeth. Dental implants give you the ability to eat whatever foods you choose without worrying about dentures slipping. Dental implantation can be performed post adolescence and/or when bone growth is complete.
A dental implant procedure is done in two stages:
- Stage One: This is where an implant post is inserted into the jawbone and is generally done under local, rather than general, anaesthetic. The gum is stitched back into place and allowed to heal, while the post integrates firmly with the jawbone.
- Stage Two: Between three and eight months after the implant has been inserted, it will be exposed to ensure that it has successfully locked into the jawbone. Once it’s been determined that the implant is successful, a post is connected to the original implant and an artificial tooth (or teeth) is attached to it.
Immediate implants are possible for patients who have lost a tooth through injury or who are about to have a tooth removed. This type of implant needs to be done quickly, before the gum has had a chance to grow down into the socket.
The procedure involves carefully removing the tooth and extracting the root, and then placing an implant into the tooth socket. As long as the implant is secure, a titanium post can be put in place and a temporary crown put on top. Once the implant has healed, a permanent crown is put in place.
What to Expect after Surgery
There will obviously be a little discomfort and possibly swelling after surgery, but your dentist can prescribe a painkiller. Patients are asked to eat soft foods for a week after the procedure.
Oral Hygiene for Implants
Good dental hygiene is vital after dental implantation. Not only can infection set in, but poor hygiene can cause implant failure. There is little difference between caring for implants and caring for your natural teeth. Brush twice a day, floss once and day and use interdental brushes for those hard to reach areas. Visit the hygienist every 6 months for a thorough clean. Smoking is known to weaken our bone structure, so quitting will help prevent possible implant failure.
Advantages of Dental Implants
- Appearance improved, therefore more confidence
- No speech problems caused by ill-fitting dentures
- Removable dentures can be very uncomfortable to wear
- Eating isn’t an issue
- Convenient and long lasting
- Implants are easier to clean than dentures
- Oral hygiene is easier to maintain compared with removable dentures