Dental implant surgery is a common option for replacing missing teeth. Unlike removable dentures that rest on the gum line, dental implants are a long-term treatment that is surgically implanted into the jaw. These implanted, artificial teeth look like real teeth and have the same functionality as well. They are a more permanent solution to ordinary dentures and bridgework.
Dental Implant Surgery
Dental implant surgery is a surgical procedure in which the dental implants are implanted into the jawbone where they replace the roots of the teeth that are missing. The implants contain titanium that, when implanted into the jaw, fuses with the jawbone. Once fusion occurs, the dental implants hold firmly in place, they do not slip or make noise. There are different types of dental implants available and the way that dental implant surgery is performed will depend on the type of implant that is chosen as well as the condition of the jaw.
Why Go With Dental Implants?
Many people choose dental implants for missing teeth replacement. When trying to make a decision about whether or not to have dental implant surgery, it is important to know why the procedure may be more beneficial to you than other types of dental replacements. Certain conditions and circumstances may make dental implants the better option, such as:
- Having more than one missing tooth
- Having a jawbone that has reached full growth
- Having ample amounts of bone to secure the implant
- Having healthy oral tissues
- Being unwilling or unable to wear dentures
- Wanting to improve your speech
- Being able and willing to commit several months to complete the process
Unlike traditional dentures and bridgework, dental implants do not cause any damage to the bone. Additionally, all of the material used for dental implants are safe and do not cause any decay.
Are They Safe
Dental implants are considered safe for the majority of people. Individuals with certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, should check with their health care provider prior to having dental implant surgery. Fortunately, most individuals with these conditions will receive the green light for the procedure, as long as certain precautions are met. Dental implant surgery is not recommended for children as their jaws have not yet reached full growth.
What Are The Risks?
As with any surgical procedure, there are some health risks associated with dental implant surgery. Complications are relatively rare and when they do occur they are generally mild, requiring minimal treatment. Possible health risks associated with dental implant surgery include:
- Infection occurring at the implant site
- Damage to surrounding teeth or blood vessels
- Nerve damage
- Sinus problems
How To Prepare For Surgery
A comprehensive dental exam and evaluation is required before the procedure can take place. This will include dental x-rays and taking a mold of the mouth to make a model of the mouth. A variety of specialists, including oral and maxillofacial surgeons, periodontists and doctors will help to create your personal treatment plan.
It is important to speak with your doctor about any underlying medical conditions you have and to list all of the medications, both prescription and over the counter that you are taking, as well as any herbal or natural supplements. Individuals with certain heart conditions and those with orthopedic implants may have to undergo antibiotic treatment prior to having the surgery.
Prior to the surgery, you will have the chance to discuss with your doctor the different anesthesia options available. You will have a choice of local, general or sedation anesthesia. Together with your dental specialist and health care team you can determine which option is the best choice for you.
What To Expect
Dental implant surgery is performed in several stages, with the entire process lasting anywhere from 3 to 9 months. Much of this time includes time off for healing and the growth of new jaw bone.
- The first surgery involves the placement of the dental implant cylinder into the jawbone. A rest period of a few months follows.
- The next surgery involves the placement of the abutment and the new artificial tooth. Another healing period then follows.
- Some individuals will require a bone graft surgery prior to having dental implant surgery. This is common in individuals who have a jawbone that is too soft or is not thick enough to sustain the implant. During a bone graft, a piece of bone is taken from a different part of the jaw or another part of the body and is transplanted to the jawbone.
Dental implant surgery is generally performed as an outpatient procedure. It is performed in a dental office or in a hospital, with no overnight stay required.
The amount of surgeries required is very specific to the individual and varies accordingly. No matter how many surgeries are required, you may experience certain side effects after each one, including:
- Swelling of the gums
- Swelling of the face
- Pain at implant site
These side effects are relatively mild and often improve shortly. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or pain medications. You will be instructed to eat only soft foods for up to one week. Self-dissolving stitches are typically used.
Occasionally, dental implant surgery is not successful. If the bone does not fuse to the implant, it will have to be removed and the procedure can be repeated. Maintaining good oral hygiene after dental implant surgery can help decrease the risk of complications and problems that may arise with dental implants.