For many, having teeth replaced at some point in their lives is very commonplace. Due to tooth decay, bone loss in the jaw or some facial trauma, dental implants could become a necessary option for continued oral health.
No matter why you need a tooth or multiple teeth replaced, a permanent solution like dental implants is often the best. Other options like dentures, bridges or other removable options are available too, but they don’t provide the same type of performance that your natural teeth do.
The basics: What are dental implants?
Let’s begin with what dental plants are and what the procedure entails. Dental implants are synthetic tooth roots utilized for replacing missing teeth, offering a sturdy base for prosthetic teeth that closely resemble natural ones. Typically crafted from biocompatible materials like titanium, dental implants are surgically inserted into the jawbone.
The dental implant procedure involves several stages. Firstly, a comprehensive assessment of the patient’s oral health is performed to determine their suitability for dental implants, considering factors like bone density and gum health. If deemed appropriate, the implant placement process can commence.
During the surgical procedure, the dentist or oral surgeon meticulously positions the implant into the jawbone, often using local anesthesia or sedation to ensure patient comfort. As time passes, the bone gradually heals and integrates with the implant, a process known as osseointegration, resulting in stability and support for the prosthetic tooth.
Following the healing period, an abutment is attached to the implant, acting as a connector between the implant and the replacement tooth. Subsequently, the dentist customizes a crown, bridge, or denture to fit onto the abutment, matching the natural teeth’s colour and shape to achieve a seamless appearance.
Why might people need dental implants?
People may need dental implants for various reasons, including:
Dental implants are an excellent solution for individuals with one or more missing teeth. They can effectively replace the missing teeth, restoring the smile’s appearance and functionality.
Severe Tooth Decay or Damage
Tooth extraction may be necessary when tooth decay or damage is extensive and cannot be adequately treated with dental fillings, crowns, or other restorative methods. In such cases, dental implants can replace the extracted tooth, restoring oral function.
Periodontal Disease: Advanced gum disease can lead to tooth loss as it affects the supporting structures of the teeth, such as the gums and jawbone. Dental implants offer a viable option to replace lost teeth and improve oral health.
Accidents or injuries to the mouth can result in tooth loss. Dental implants provide a long-term solution for replacing missing teeth, improving the mouth’s aesthetic appearance and functional capabilities.
Failed Dental Work
Dental treatments like bridges or dentures may occasionally fail or deteriorate over time. Dental implants offer a more durable and reliable alternative to replace previous dental work.
Enhanced Denture Stability
Individuals who wear removable dentures can benefit from dental implants for improved stability. Implant-supported dentures offer better stability, preventing slippage and enhancing chewing and speaking abilities.
Preservation of Jawbone Health
When a tooth is lost, the underlying jawbone can deteriorate due to lack of stimulation. Dental implants serve as artificial tooth roots, stimulating the jawbone and preventing bone loss, thereby preserving oral health and facial structure.
Pros and cons of permanent dental implants
While you do have a few options for replacing teeth, permanent dental implants are the way to go in most cases.
Pros of Dental Implants:
Dental implants provide excellent stability and functionality, allowing individuals to bite, chew, and speak naturally without concerns of slippage or discomfort.
Implants closely resemble natural teeth in appearance. They are customized to match the color, shape, and size of surrounding teeth, resulting in a seamless and attractive smile.
Dental implants can last a lifetime with proper care, making them a durable and long-term tooth replacement option.
Bone Health Preservation
By integrating with the jawbone through osseointegration, dental implants stimulate bone growth and help maintain the jawbone’s integrity. This prevents bone loss, preserves facial structure, and supports overall oral health.
Unlike removable dentures, dental implants eliminate the need for adhesives or special cleaning routines. They are cared for like natural teeth, providing a hassle-free and convenient solution.
Cons of Dental Implants:
The placement of dental implants involves a surgical procedure, which may require anesthesia or sedation. This can increase the overall cost and potential discomfort associated with the treatment.
The dental implant process typically involves multiple stages, including a healing period for osseointegration. It can take several months to complete the entire treatment, which may be longer than other tooth replacement options.
Dental implants tend to be more expensive than alternatives like dentures or bridges. The costs can vary based on factors such as the number of implants required, additional procedures, and the location of the dental practice.
While rare, complications can occur with dental implants, such as infection, nerve damage, or implant failure. Choosing an experienced dental professional and following post-operative care instructions can help minimize these risks.
Requirement of Adequate Bone Density
Successful implant placement requires sufficient bone density in the jaw. If the jawbone has experienced significant deterioration, bone grafting or other procedures may be necessary to augment the bone before implant placement.
Different options for tooth replacement
If permanent dentures don’t sound like the right option for you, or there is some medical reason you are not a candidate for the procedure, there are a number of other options to functionally replace missing teeth.
Dental implants are synthetic tooth roots made of biocompatible materials, like titanium, that are surgically implanted into the jawbone. They serve as a stable base for attaching a crown, bridge, or denture, resulting in a natural-looking and functional replacement tooth. Dental implants offer exceptional stability, durability, and long-term benefits.
Dentures are removable prosthetic devices used to replace multiple missing teeth or an entire dental arch. They are typically crafted from acrylic or a combination of acrylic and metal. Dentures can be full (replacing all teeth) or partial (replacing some teeth). They are custom-made to fit the individual’s mouth, restoring both the appearance and functionality of the teeth.
Dental bridges are fixed restorations employed to replace one or more missing teeth. They consist of artificial teeth (pontics) that are supported by adjacent natural teeth or dental implants. The supporting teeth or implants act as abutments, holding the bridge securely in place. Dental bridges are cemented or bonded onto the supporting structures, offering stability and functionality.
Removable Partial Dentures
Removable partial dentures are similar to traditional dentures but designed for cases where some natural teeth remain in the mouth. They feature clasps or attachments that grip onto the remaining teeth, providing stability. Removable partial dentures can be removed for cleaning and are an option when dental implants or bridges are not viable.
Also known as Maryland bridges, resin-bonded bridges replace missing front teeth. They comprise artificial teeth attached to metal or porcelain wings, which are bonded to adjacent natural teeth using dental adhesive. This type of bridge is minimally invasive and requires less tooth preparation.
How to prepare yourself for dental implant surgery
While dental implant procedures are common and straightforward, they are often invasive and it’s a good idea to prepare properly. This means not only your body, but your mind and surroundings as well. The following are some things to pay attention to and check off your list before the day of your appointment.
Consultation with a Dental Implant Specialist
Schedule a consultation with a dental implant specialist or an oral surgeon. They will evaluate your oral health, examine your jawbone density, and determine if you are a suitable candidate for dental implants.
Medical Evaluation: Provide your dental implant specialist with a comprehensive medical history, including any medications you are taking and any medical conditions you have. Certain medical conditions or medications may require special considerations before undergoing surgery. You should also tell your dentist about any medications or supplements you are currently taking.
Eat the right foods.
As with any surgery, your body will be put under a certain amount of strain which means that your immune system might be asked to work harder than normal. All the more reason to make sure it’s running properly by nourishing yourself with immune boosting foods for a couple weeks before.
Your dental implant specialist will provide you with specific instructions to follow before the surgery. This may include fasting for a certain period, avoiding smoking and alcohol, and maintaining good oral hygiene.
Dental implant surgery is typically performed under local anesthesia or sedation. Arrange for someone to drive you home after the surgery, as you may experience drowsiness or limited mobility immediately after the procedure.
Stock Up on Supplies
Prepare your home for the recovery period by stocking up on soft foods, such as soups, yogurt, and smoothies, as you will need to follow a soft diet for a few days. Also, ensure you have an ice pack, over-the-counter pain medication (if recommended), and any prescribed antibiotics or mouth rinses.
Knowing you have an upcoming appointment can cause you to feel worried and stressed. This is completely normal but stress will raise your cortisol levels meaning you should do what you can to keep calm. If you’re looking for some tips and techniques to lower your stress levels naturally, click here.
Familiarize yourself with the post-surgery care instructions provided by your dental implant specialist. This may include guidelines for pain management, oral hygiene, and follow-up
The choice of tooth replacement option depends on factors such as the number of missing teeth, oral health condition, bone density, budget, and personal preferences. Consulting with a dental professional is crucial to evaluate your specific circumstances and receive a recommendation on the most suitable tooth replacement option for you.