Permanent tooth loss is more common than you would think. The most frequent causes of tooth loss are:
- Gum disease.
- Physical injury and trauma.
- Other lifestyle choices and conditions such as smoking and diabetes.
Luckily, you do not have to walk around with gaps in your mouth, thanks to dental implants.
Dental implant surgery is a procedure that will give new life to your teeth. The treatment replaces the roots of the teeth with metal posts that look like screws. The process also replaces the teeth with artificial teeth that look and function a lot like natural teeth. Dental implants are a great alternative to dentures as they are more permanent and fit better.
Dental implant surgery often involves multiple procedures and will require care. The process can spread over a few months because it requires bone healing. If your orthodontist has recommended dental implants, you may be feeling nervous about the procedure. Adequate knowledge on this procedure should help ease stress, so keep reading to learn everything there is to know about dental implants.
Who Needs Dental Implants?
First things first, you need to know if you need dental implants. After all, you might not fit the bill. It is important to note that you need a proper examination by a qualified and experienced orthodontist before scheduling the surgery. Professionals may recommend you for the procedure if you should the following signs:
- If you have missing teeth. Dental implants offer a natural look for people with missing teeth. They are especially good for those with missing front teeth. And because they come with artificial roots, they will hold well, allowing you to eat, drink, and talk comfortably.
- If your dentures do not fit properly. Some people use dentures but have never been comfortable with them. Some dentures do not fit properly, making it hard to chew and talk. This leads to discomfort as well. Dental implants can help with that.
- If your roots are damaged. Dental implants replace the roots with ‘metal roots’. So if the infection has spread to your roots, you will benefit from dental implants.
- If your face is sinking in. Bone loss from missing teeth could cause your face to sink in. The same will happen with people who wear dentures because they do not promote bone growth. Dental implants can help improve this look.
- If your jaw bone is deteriorating. Missing teeth will cause the jawbone to deteriorate. Without correction, you could lose a few more teeth and progress jaw issues. Dental implants will help to stabilize the jaw.
There are three main stages of getting dental implants.
Placement of the implant.
This stage involves several steps starting with an assessment by a qualified orthodontist. The professional will examine your jawbone to deice the best procedure for your unique situation. This involves x-rays, taking impressions, and even color-matching to make the teeth look as natural as possible.
Additionally, you will discuss any medical conditions and the use of medications such as antibiotics to avoid infection. Tooth extraction is also a possibility if you have a remaining tooth that requires replacing.
Once the professional removes the tooth, you are ready for the implant. The professional will use local anesthesia then make an incision on the gum to expose the bone. The professional will use a quiet drill to create space for the screw. Then, the implant will go into its place, and the professional will let it heal for 3 to 6 months. This will allow the jawline to grow around the implant.
Attaching the abutment.
Once the implant is stable enough, you can move on to the second stage, abutment placement. The abutment connects the crown and the implant. Its placement requires an experienced hand because if it is too loose, you will experience difficulty eating.
The orthodontist will administer local anesthesia, and you should only feel a little pressure during this procedure. Some professionals will attach the abutment during implanting because it goes past the gum line.
The professional will also add a healing cap to prevent bone and tissue from growing above the abutment. However, before this, the dentist will take an impression needed to fit the crown.
Fitting the crown.
The gums will need some time to heal before crown fitting. Creating the crown will need multiple appointments depending on your situation. However, during the final step, you will receive the crown after a series of trial procedures to ensure that the crown fits well.
What to Expect During Recovery
Recovery time for each stage usually varies with the patient. However, you can expect bruising, swelling as well as localized pain after implantation. Often, the worst pain you will experience is on the second and third day after you receive the implant. Over the counter painkillers such as ibuprofen should help ease the pain. You will be back to your routine the day after surgery. You may also see some bleeding in the area, but this should stop almost immediately. If you notice elevated swelling or regular bleeding, you should consult your orthodontist. If it is an infection, you will require antibiotics for a while.
Caring For the Implant
Often, the orthodontist will give you a list of instructions to protect your implant. These instructions are different and depend on your case. The most basic care instructions start with stocking up on soft foods. Additionally, you can use icepacks to reducing swelling and pain too. Tobacco is a no-go during recovery as it will increase the chances of infection while staining your teeth.
Brushing regularly is a must, as is flossing. Incision wounds should heal quickly, but you can use a warm saltwater solution to keep the wounds clean and speed up the process. Furthermore, you have to protect the implant regularly during recovery. This means avoiding candy and other foods and beverages bad for your teeth.
Finally, as tempting as it may be, avoid obsessively examining your teeth. You should be careful when examining your teeth to prevent reopening sutures. So do not pull or poke your lips or cheeks. Be gentle, and use a mirror.