Historically, people who have had teeth removed only had the options of getting a bridge or a set of dentures. Now, you have many options for dental implants, which can replace damaged or missing teeth with artificial teeth that look and act real.
Depending on your health conditions and dental history, you may want to talk to your dentist about your options for implants.
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How They Work
During a dental implant surgery, a dentist will remove damaged teeth and their roots, then replaces them with posts secured into your jaw bone. Because the titanium posts fuse with your jawbone, it can take time for the bone to heal before the procedure is completed. After the process is complete, your new teeth should be secured on a tight base.
The Dental Implant Surgical Procedure
The surgical procedure is different depending on the type of implant you choose and the health of your jawbone. Depending on the extent of the procedure, you may be put under sedation, or the oral surgeon may choose to use a strong local anesthetic.
During the surgery, the oral surgeon cuts through the gum tissue to expose the jawbone. After drilling holes for the implant, you will need to wait for your bone to heal before the next procedure.
During the second procedure, the titanium post will be placed into your jawbone and secured. And during the final procedure, your artificial tooth crown will be inserted.
Jawbone that is too soft or weak may require a bone graft before the implant can be inserted. During a bone graft, your oral surgeon will insert a piece of graft material into your jawbone, to reinforce its structure. The graft material can be natural or artificial, and either way, it may take several months for the bone graft to fully heal.
Common Reasons for Dental Implants
The most common reasons that people may choose dental implants include:
- One or more missing teeth
- Unclear or halted speech
- Difficulty chewing or eating with dentures
People enjoy the fact that dental implants don’t slip or make noise, and can be far more comfortable and durable than other options.
Health & Dental History to Consider
Like any other surgery, dental implants are only a safe choice if you have medical and dental history that doesn’t show any potential complications. When evaluating whether you should get dental implants, discuss the following with your dentist:
- If your jawbone is fully grown
- If your jawbone is healthy and strong enough to secure the implants
- If your oral tissues are healthy enough
- Whether or not you smoke tobacco
If you are prone to infection, have an autoimmune issue, or suffer from nerve damage, discuss the potential risks with your dentist. Lastly, consider that implants in the upper jaw are closely located near your sinuses. Some people with sinus issues may experience complications from dental implants.
Pain From Dental Implants
Many patients who have had bone grafts and dental implants report minimal to no pain. While many oral surgeons automatically prescribe pain medication, you can choose for an over-the-counter medication if you prefer. For the first procedure, the recovery time is often longer, due to the more extensive work that typically takes place. However, for additional procedures, patients often report they are able to return to work or other activities that same day.
Recovery from Dental Implants
Immediately after the procedure, you can expect:
- Swelling of your face and gums
- Bruising around your face and gums
- Minor bleeding
- Sensitivity at the implant site
Counteract this discomfort with:
- Pain medications
- Hot or cold compresses
- A soft, neutral diet that will not irritate the tissues in your mouth
If you experience excessive pain or swelling, fever, redness that spreads across your face, or any signs of infection, contact your oral surgeon or 911 immediately.
Long-Term Dental Implant Care
After you have adjusted to your new implants, make sure you take good care of them! Avoid excessive and hard chewing that could damage your teeth and implants. Practice excellent hygiene, making sure to thoroughly clean both your real and artificial teeth every day. It has also been shown that not smoking cigarettes can help your implants last longer. Continue to get regular check-ups with your dentist to asses your overall oral health, and keep your dental implants in top shape.