Dental implants are a solution for replacing lost teeth and can help you feel confident about your smile and bite again, which will also make it easier to chew food thoroughly.
However, it is essential to know about the alternatives, which may include fixed bridges or removable full and partial dentures.
Before getting the procedure done, the patient must understand how a dental implant works, the surgical procedures involved, as well as the alternatives to dental implants.
No surgery is completely risk-free, so we will look at potential risks, as well as the procedure for looking after your dental implants immediately after surgery.
So what exactly are dental implants? Dental implants are a different way of replacing lost teeth, as they are fixed in your jawbone, so they function more like a natural tooth. Implants can be used to replace a single tooth or all of them.
They can replace several teeth to hold a fixed bridge, or they can be used to secure removable partial and full dentures. They can replace teeth lost to disease, or teeth that may have been knocked out due to trauma, for example, when playing sports.
Infected teeth that still have excellent support within the jawbone may be saved through endodontic therapy, something that is better known as root canal therapy. Dentures can be re-made to provide a better fit, or it might be possible to re-line them to keep the gums and jawbone healthy.
Missing teeth should always be replaced, as otherwise, the remaining teeth may move and cause the bite to collapse. Correcting this can be costly and complicated. Before deciding on dental implant treatment, your dentist will take a complete medical and dental evaluation and develop a plan. This is to ensure you do not have any health conditions that could make surgery inadvisable. Also, the dentist will use different diagnostic tools such as CT scans or dental x-rays. Implants can be placed with precision, and with minimal risk.
The process for having dental implants involves two separate surgical procedures. The initial surgery is to place the implant post in the jawbone and is usually carried under a local anesthetic. An incision is made in the gum tissue before a hole is precisely created.
The implant is placed into the hole, and the gum is stitched shut. The site is left to heal so the implant post can integrate firmly with the jawbone. During this process, new bone cells will grow on and around the implant post, ensuring it cannot move and that it is strong enough to support a restoration. Dental appliances should not be worn for the first few days after surgery as it is essential not to put pressure on the site.
The second surgical procedure is shorter and takes place between three and eight months later, at which stage the implant will be exposed and evaluated. This is a process to determine if the implant post has successfully locked into the jawbone. At this point, it may be necessary to make some changes. If the implant has failed to close in, then it may need to be removed.
Options at this stage can include changing the implant or placing the implant in a different area. If the implant post has been successful, then the second surgical procedure is to create an opening in the gum to expose the implant and place a post known as a healing cap. This is so a tooth can be attached that will extend above the gum line into the mouth. The cap is used to shape the gum tissue to give support to the crown or bridge.
The final phase is to thread a metal sleeve known as an abutment into the implant, and this will be used to hold the crown, bridge, or denture firmly in position. At this stage, your final prosthesis can be constructed.
The fee for the final teeth is usually separate from the surgical fees. As we mentioned earlier, there is always some risk with any surgery.
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