Dental implant surgery is a procedure in which tooth roots are replaced with screw-like metal columns and damaged or missing teeth are replaced with artificial teeth that closely resemble and function real teeth. Dental implant surgery can offer a welcome alternative to dentures or bridges that do not fit well and can offer an option when a lack of natural tooth roots does not allow dentures or dental replacements to be built.
Dental Implant Process
How dental implant surgery is performed depends on the type of implant and the condition of the jawbone. Dental implant surgery may include several procedures. The main benefit of the implant is the solid support for your new teeth – a process that requires the bone to heal tightly around the implant. Because bone healing takes time, the process can take several months.
Why Is Dental Implant Surgery Done?
Dental implants are surgically placed in the jawbone, where they act as the roots of the missing tooth. Because the titanium in the implants fuses with the jawbone, the implants won’t slip, make noise, or cause bone damage the way fixed bridges or dentures might. And the material cannot degrade like your teeth supporting normal bridgework.
Dental Implant Candidates
In general, dental implants may be right for you if you:
You have one or more missing teeth
Jawbone that has reached full growth
You have enough bone to secure implants or are able to receive a bone graft
You have healthy oral tissues
You do not have health conditions that will affect bone healing
Unable or unwilling to wear dentures
You want to improve your speech
They are willing to commit several months to the process
Risks Of Dental Implant Surgery
Like any surgery, dental implant surgery carries some health risks. However, problems are rare, and when they do occur they are usually minor and easy to treat. Risks include:
infection at the implant site
Injury or damage to surrounding structures, such as teeth or other blood vessels
Nerve damage, which can cause pain, numbness or tingling in your natural teeth, gums, lips or chin
Sinus problems, when dental implants in the upper jaw protrude into one of the sinus cavities
How Do I Prepare For Dental Implant Surgery?
The planning process for dental implants may involve a variety of specialists, including a doctor who specializes in oral, maxillofacial, and maxillofacial conditions, a dentist who specializes in treating structures that support teeth, such as gums and bone, a dentist who designs and installs false teeth, or sometimes a specialist Ear, nose and throat (ENT).
Because dental implants require one or more surgical procedures, you should have a comprehensive evaluation to prepare for this procedure, including:
Comprehensive dental examination. X-rays and 3D pictures of the teeth may be taken, and you may have models made of your teeth and jaw.
Review your medical history. Tell your doctor about any medical conditions and any medications you take, including over-the-counter medications and supplements. If you have certain heart conditions or orthopedic transplants, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics before surgery to help prevent infection.
Treatment plan. This plan is tailored to your situation, taking into account factors such as the number of teeth that need to be replaced and the condition of your jawbone and remaining teeth.
To control pain, anesthesia options during surgery include local anesthesia, sedation, or general anesthesia. Talk to your dental professional about which option is best for you. Your dental care team will instruct you about eating and drinking before surgery, depending on the type of anesthesia you have. If you are having sedation or general anesthesia, plan to bring someone home after surgery and expect to be rested for the rest of the day.
Results Of Dental Implant Surgery
Most dental implants are successful. Sometimes, however, the bone fails to fuse adequately into the metal implant. Smoking, for example, may contribute to implant failure and its complications.
If the bone fails to fuse sufficiently, the implant is removed, the bone is cleaned, and you can try the procedure again in about three months.
Practice excellent oral hygiene. As with your natural teeth, keep your implants, false teeth, and gum tissue clean. Specially designed brushes, such as an interdental brush that slides between teeth, can help clean the nooks and crannies around the teeth, gums, and shafts.
See your dentist regularly. Schedule dental exams to ensure the health and proper functioning of your dental implants, and follow advice for cleanings.
Avoid bad habits. Don’t chew on hard objects, which can fracture crowns – or your natural teeth. Avoid tobacco and caffeine products that stain teeth.