If you are living with tooth loss and have decided to do something about it, you have several tooth replacement options. If dentures or a dental bridge is not right for you, implant surgery could be a life-changing solution. Dental implants can dramatically alter the appearance of your smile, improve mouth function and oral health.
Dental implants are the closest you can get to natural teeth. They are permanently placed so they don’t move around or cause bone damage like bridgework or removable dentures might. If you want to learn more about the benefits of choosing dental implant surgery over other tooth replacement options, this guide will help you understand what to expect:
Candidates for implant surgery have one or more missing or damaged teeth but have good oral health otherwise. The first step is for your dentist to take a series of x-rays to assess the situation and determine where the implant post will need to be placed in the jawbone. Molds of your teeth may also be taken at this time.
Oftentimes, implant patients are concerned about pain. Fortunately, there are several ways to ensure dental implant surgery is both stress-free and pain-free, including oral sedation and local anesthesia.
If you have severely damaged teeth that need to be replaced, your dentist needs to remove them first. Also, some patients require a bone graft to ensure enough space for the titanium post. This may sound intimidating, but a bone graft is a simple procedure that involves adding bone material to the treatment site to serve as an anchor the post.
To place a dental implant, the bone is exposed with a gum incision. Then, a hole will be drilled into the bone, where the implant will be inserted, and the opening will be sutured. Titanium implant posts act as replacement roots for the prosthetic tooth. After implant surgery, it will take several months for the implant to fuse with the bone (osseointegration). This process will provide a solid foundation for a dental crown. You may be given a temporary denture to wear during the interim.
Once the process of osseointegration has completed, it is time to attach the abutment piece. This is structure connects the crown to the implant post. In some cases, a healing cap is worn to promote healing before the abutment can be placed. You can expect to have a temporary crown for several weeks while you wait for your custom made permanent crown to be made.
You might experience light bleeding or minor pain for a short time after implant surgery. Swelling and bruising of the soft tissues are rare, and when they do occur, are tolerable. Be prepared to eat only soft foods for 2–3 weeks. You may be prescribed pain reliever, antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications if needed.
Dental implant care is not different than your regular daily oral hygiene practices. Simply brush and floss twice daily and keep up with routine dentist visits. Stay away from chewing on hard objects like ice or rock candy and using tobacco products. Remember that highly pigments foods and drinks with stain your new crowns the same way they do natural tooth enamel. If you care for your implants properly, you can expect them to serve you well for the rest of your life.