What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is used to replace a missing tooth or teeth. A dental implant consists of a titanium post surgically inserted into the jawbone to replace the missing tooth (teeth). Once healed, it can anchor a new tooth or prostheses. In the case of a single tooth, a replacement crown that is made of ceramic, metal or acrylic can be affixed. In the case of missing teeth, a bridge, denture or full new set of teeth can be affixed to them.
Whether it’s replacing a single missing tooth, several missing teeth or all of them, a dental implant works similarly to natural teeth, helping you to regain proper chewing and talking functionality as well as resolving the pain or problems caused by missing teeth. They can also help restore your confidence and smile.
What are the advantages of a dental implant?
Unlike dentures that need to be removed to be cleaned, dental implants function similarly to natural teeth and cannot be taken out. If cared for properly, they can last a lifetime. In addition to replacing missing teeth, dental implants can also help prevent bone loss in the jaw — and accompanying face changes — caused by missing teeth.
There are many advantages to dental implants with fixed teeth or dental implants to help retain dentures. These include stopping further jawbone loss (due to lack of use) after a tooth is lost. Loss of bone in the jaw leads to a sunken-in look and jawbone shrinkage that is often seen in older people. As well, the soft tissues are less irritated by floating dentures with much less food trapped below them.
Is a dental implant right for me?
Dental implants are an effective solution for people with missing teeth who have healthy gums, sufficient jawbone density to safely anchor the implant and good oral hygiene habits. After dental implant surgery, it’s important to maintain a daily flossing and brushing routine, as well as to go for regularly scheduled dental exams.
Some chronic diseases may make dental implants an ineffective solution. Smoking can also contribute to dental implant failure.
How does the dental implant procedure work?
Dental implant surgery can take from one to several dental appointments depending on the number and location of missing teeth that need to be replaced. The type of implant material used and the patient’s overall gum and dental health play a role in recovery.
During one of the initial visits, the dentist will take a 3D digital radiograph of the area where the dental implant is to be placed. An individualized plan will then be created for the patient. The dentist may choose to have a guide made to place the implant(s) in specific areas. A surgical appointment will be booked and the dentist will place the implants in the desired location. The surface of the implant allows for “osseointegration” where the implant integrates with the jawbone. In essence, it will act like the new tooth’s root, which may take several months to heal.
The next step is to attach an artificial tooth, bar, attachment or teeth to the titanium post(s) once the area has sufficiently healed. During the healing period, before the permanent artificial tooth is attached, you may be given a temporary replacement.
Between each surgical procedure there may be some swelling, redness, bruising, tenderness and/or bleeding around the dental implant area. Your dentist will review your specific case with you, but if you have any questions, please contact your dental office immediately.
Is anesthesia administered during dental implant surgery?
Pain and discomfort is often minimal, but normal with the dental implant procedure. Local anesthesia will be used; other forms of sedation for anxiety are also available to be administered during dental implant surgery to help put patients at ease, make them feel more comfortable, less anxious and experience less pain.
Antibiotics and antibacterial mouth rinse will likely be prescribed beginning a day before surgery to help manage any discomfort associated with the healing process.