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As we age, some of us will lose teeth due to disease, injury, or simple daily wear. In addition to bringing about unwanted changes to a person's facial appearance, missing teeth have a negative effect on that person’s confidence and self-esteem. With the advent of implant dentistry, however, those who are missing one, two or several teeth no longer have to accept a lifetime of embarrassment and inconvenience. Dental implants, sturdy titanium posts that are anchored directly into the jawbone and topped with realistic replacement teeth, provide the security and usability of permanently placed teeth.
What are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are a restorative dentistry option that allows patients to replace missing teeth with ones that look, feel, and perform like their own. During the first step of this procedure, a doctor skilled in implant dentistry surgically places a titanium screw or post in the patient's jaw. After the gums have healed around the embedded post, a replacement tooth is attached to the top of it.
Am I a suitable candidate for dental implants?
Dental implants can be placed in patients of any age (with fully developed jawbones), provided that they have a sufficient quantity and quality of bone tissue available. Most healthy individuals that maintain a good oral hygiene program are suitable candidates for dental implants. Circumstances where implants may not be suitable, or situations that have an increased risk of implant failure, include : -
- Heavy smoking : - this slows down and hinders the healing process.
- Excessive alcohol intake : - disrupts healing of the gums.
- Periodontal gum disease : - all active gum disease must be treated prior to any implant procedure to ensure the long-term success of any treatment. Periodontal disease is a major cause of bone loss, which would hinder the success of any implant procedure.
- Immuno : - compromised individuals (steroids, auto-immune disease, patients undergoing radiation treatment).
- Teeth grinders (bruxism) : - a night-time splint can be given to treat this.
The Dental Implant Procedure
Figure : - Strong, durable and natural in appearance, implants are among the most successful dental procedures performed.
Today's dental implants are virtually indistinguishable from other teeth. This appearance is aided in part by the structural and functional connection between the dental implant and the living bone. Implants are typically placed in a single sitting but require a period of osseointegration.
Osseointegration is the process by which direct anchorage of a dental implant root and the bone of the jaw occurs. Osseointegrated implants are the most commonly used and successful type of dental implant. An osseointegrated implant takes anywhere from three to six months to anchor and heal, at which point your dentist can complete the procedure with the placement of a crown. Once the implant has anchored with the jawbone, artificial prosthesis may be attached and the process is done. If osseointegration does not occur, the implant will fail.
Detailed procedural steps are as follows : -
Preparing the Jaw for Implantation: A dental implant is commonly composed of a titanium material screw and a crown. A small-diameter hole (pilot hole) is drilled at edentulous (where there is no tooth) jaw sites in order to guide the titanium screw that holds a dental implant in place. To avoid damaging vital jaw and face structures like the inferior alveolar nerve in the mandible (lower jaw), a dentist must use great skill and expertise when boring the pilot hole and sizing the jaw bone.
Placement of the Implant: After the initial pilot hole has been drilled into the appropriate jaw site, it is slowly widened to allow for placement of the implant screw. Following this placement, a protective cover screw is placed on top to allow the implant site to heal and the dental implant to anchor (osseointegration). After several months, the protective cover is removed and a temporary crown is placed on top of the dental implant. The temporary crown serves as a template around which the gum grows and shapes itself in a natural way. The process is completed when the temporary crown is replaced with a permanent crown.
Which is the Best Type of Dental Implant?
There are many different brands of implants with some being more expensive than another. Because it is something that is inserted in your body and can be expensive, complicated and bad for you health if it goes bad, the bigger brand names are recommended. Brand names like Astra, ITI, Straumann, and NobelBiocare to name the biggest.
Advantages of Implant Dentistry
Dental implants are stronger and more durable than their restorative counterparts (bridges and dentures). Implants offer a permanent solution to tooth loss. Additionally, implants may be used in conjunction with other restorative procedures for maximum effectiveness. For example, a single implant can serve to support a crown replacing a single missing tooth. Implants can also be used to support a dental bridge for the replacement of multiple missing teeth, and can be used with dentures to increase stability and reduce gum tissue irritation.
Procedural advancements, including the development of narrower “mini” implants, mean that more people than ever before are finding themselves candidates for implantation. However, candidacy for implantation still varies, meaning that your dentist may determine that you should opt for an alternative restoration. Keep in mind, too, that dentists do not need a specific license by law in order to perform implant dentistry. A general or restorative dentist may perform the crown and bridge placement that is associated with implant restoration. However, prosthodontists are the specialists who often complete this crucial procedure.
Periodontists and oral surgeons perform the implant surgical procedure itself.
Aside from the recovery of the actual implant itself in the early stages of the procedure, there is not a lot of recovery time associated with the dental implant procedure. There will be some soreness as the bone bonds with the titanium implant, but any discomfort can be controlled using non-prescription pain killers. After the final surgery, many people experience some mild soreness, bleeding and swelling, but these symptoms can be treated with over the counter medication as well. Most people are able to return to work the day after surgery. Your dentist will instruct you to adhere to a strict oral hygiene regimen during the healing process. Poor oral hygiene can result in swollen gum tissues and ultimately, implant failure.
There is little risk associated with cosmetic dentistry and dental implants. There is a slight chance that your implant may not be incorporated into the body, and most failures happen within the first year and only in about 1% of patients. Most failed implants can be replaced by a second implant, but the success rate for tooth implants is approximately 95%.
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