Dental Implants: The surgery Procedure, advantages, disadvantages, Cost, and Aftercare
According to the American College of Prosthodontists (ACP) statistics, about 40 million people in America have all their teeth missing, while 178 million people are missing at least a single tooth. These numbers are expected to rise in the next 20 years, with the leading causes of tooth loss being tooth decay, periodontal disease, and eruption problems.
These statistics explain why dental implants are growing in popularity in the past years. People with missing teeth seek dental implants that look like natural dentures to maintain their smiles and appearance. As such, expert Prosthodontists have continued to advance technology, materials, and placement methods to meet the patients’ needs.
What Are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is an artificial replacement tooth made of titanium. It mimics the natural structure of your tooth, and it is inserted into the jawbone. The implant feels and looks like a natural tooth, and if you care for it well, it can last for a lifetime. The implant can support a denture, crown, and bridge.
What Is Involved in a Dental Implant surgery procedure?
The entire process of getting an implant can take months because it involves several steps, and taking breaks in between for healing. This explains why the procedure is done on an outpatient basis. The number of steps involved in the procedure varies among the patients because it depends on the patient’s dental condition. Some steps can be combined, but generally, they include:
- Planning process
- Extraction of the damaged tooth
- Preparing jawbone and doing grafting if it is needed
- Placing dental implant
- Placing Abutment
- Artificial tooth placement
During planning, your dentist will work with different specialists, including oral and maxillofacial surgeons, periodontists, prosthodontists, and even an ENT doctor. All these specialists will work together to thoroughly examine your dentures and prepare you well for the surgery. They will also review your medical history and establish your treatment plan depending on the number of teeth required and the condition of your jawbone.
The next step is tooth or teeth removal if your site of implant placement has an affected tooth in existence. If your jaw is in good condition and therefore doesn’t require grafting, an implant will be placed after your tooth is extracted. If it requires grafting, you will have the synthetic bone placed and wait for the jawbone to heal well. On the other hand, if the implant placement site does not have an existing tooth or teeth and has an adequate bone to support the dental implant strongly, you have implant placement at the same appointment.
The actual implant placement surgery step comes next since your site of placement is ready. During this appointment, the surgeon will cut your gum and open it in order to expose your jawbone. Next, he will drill holes in your bone where the titanium plant that will act as the root is placed. He will then insert and plant the implant into the jawbone, place a healing cap on the implant, and stitch your gum up. After that, you begin the healing step.
The healing phase can vary between 2-6 months, depending on your present bone quality. This phase is important as it allows the implant to integrate into the bone so that it will strongly support the artificial tooth. Your implant site will have a gap during this period, but you can choose to have a temporary denture for an esthetic appearance. You might be scheduled for check-ups to ensure your implant site is healing well.
Once the healing process is complete and the dentists ascertain that it was well integrated into the bone, a component called Abutment is placed. The Abutment is what will hold your replacement tooth in place. This would require additional surgery if it were not attached to the implant when it was being placed. Once again, the surgeon will cut the gum and open it to expose the gum, attach the Abutment to the implant, and close the gum leaving the Abutment exposed. After that, you will take another healing phase of about two weeks for your gum to heal.
Finally, you will choose and get your artificial tooth placed. Your dentist will take a mold of your remaining teeth that will be used to prepare the crown. You can choose to have a removable or fixed artificial tooth placed.
How Successful Are Dental Implants Surgery?
Dental implants have a high prevalence rate and resounding rate of success. Even though implants are very invasive, they are more successful than crowns. When placed by an experienced specialist, they have a success rate of 98%. Aside from the success rate, the implant popularity continues to grow because it offers the same biting power level as the real teeth.
How Do I Care for Dental Implants?
Dental implants do not require special aftercare. It is good to take good care of your implants in the same way that you take care of your natural teeth so that they can last as long as possible. Generally:
- Avoid smoking so that your gums heal well and stay healthy
- Maintain optimal dental hygiene
- Visit your dentist regularly to check the implants
- Avoid opening packages with your teeth and chewing hard items
What Are the Advantages of Dental Implants?
Dental implants have several benefits, including:
- They act, feel, and look like your natural teeth. You can bite and chew with the power of natural teeth
- They keep adjacent teeth stable by preventing them from shifting to the gap of the missing teeth
- Prevents premature aging and sagging of your face, which normally results from losing bone mass from missing teeth
- Improves life quality by boosting self-esteem and confidence
- They last for a lifetime
- No embarrassment because you will not have to remove them while eating, and they do not slip inside your mouth
- They prevent bone loss
What Are the Disadvantages of Dental Implants?
Just like any other surgery, dental implant surgery has a few risk factors. While these problems rarely occur, they can easily be treated. They include:
- Damage of nerves
- Can lead to sinus problems when they are being placed on the upper jaw
- Infection and inflammation at the site of the implant
- Your blood vessels and adjacent teeth can be damaged or injured during the surgery
- It takes months to complete the entire process
Does Insurance Cover the Cost of Dental Implants?
Dental insurance considers dental implants an elective cosmetic procedure. They do not cover the costs. Some insurances may help alleviate the costs, but, in many cases, they do not. You will have to budget and plan with your dental clinic on how you can pay. However, considering the benefits and the success rate of dental implants, the cost is worth it.
Who can get dental implants?
It is recommended that you talk to your dentist to check if you qualify for dental implants. The dentist will examine you and tell you if you can get an implant. Generally, you can get an implant if:
- You have missing teeth
- Have broken or decaying tooth
- Have good oral health
- You are not comfortable with your dentures
Dental implants stand out as the best solution to missing or damaged teeth. They come with a lot of benefits that other replacement options cannot offer. The procedure involves little discomfort, and it has rare chances of complications. If you need an implant or are planning to have one in the future, reach out and talk to the expert dentists. Also, ensure you choose a dental clinic with a state of the art technology so that you can get excellent implant surgery.