What are implants?
Implants are devices that replace the roots of missing teeth. They are used to support crowns, bridges or dentures. Implants are placed in your jawbone by surgery. Most of the time, implants feel more natural and secure than other methods of replacing missing teeth, such as dentures.
Benefits of implants include:
- Feel — because implants are imbedded in your bone, they feel more like your natural teeth than bridges or dentures.
- Convenience — you will not need to worry about denture adhesives or having your dentures slip, click or fall out when you speak.
- Nutrition — you will be able to chew better with implants. Chewing can be difficult with regular dentures, especially ones that don’t fit perfectly. A regular upper denture also covers your palate, which can reduce your sense of taste.
- Self-esteem — because implants are so much like your natural teeth, you will think about them less. Your self-esteem and confidence will be improved because you will not have to worry about denture problems or people noticing that you have missing teeth. Regular dentures also can affect your speech, which can make you less self-confident when talking to others.
Are implants suitable for everyone?
If you have good general health, dental implants will certainly work for you. Habits such as heavy drinking or smoking can increase problems associated with initial healing and influence the long-term health of gum and bone surrounding each implant.
What is the procedure to get a dental implant?
The first step is a consult with the dentist who will evaluate the area which has a missing tooth/teeth. An X-ray will be taken. If you are a poor candidate for implants, other options would include dentures and bridges.
The most commonly used implant procedure is a “staged surgery” procedure. The first stage consist of placing the implant into the bone, below the gums, and wait for this to heal. An injection (local anaesthetic) will be administered. An incision will be made into the gums, and the implant will be drilled into the bone. You will feel numb during the whole procedure. Stitches will be placed and you will come back for a review appoinment. The healing process may take a couple of months or longer. When the implant has fused into the bone, the dentist will surgically expose the top of the implant to place a healing abutment in. This looks like a post and allows the gums to heal around it. When the implant has succesfully integrated into the bone, the final stage involves fabricating a crown to the implant.
Depending on case-by-case basis, certain steps may be skipped.
Does it hurt? During the surgery? After the surgery? Will there be any complications?
Most patients will be very familiar with the dental anesthetics used for routine dentistry and will know how effective they are. Implants are placed using the same anesthesia.
Since the surgery normally involves exposing the bone in the area where the implant and/or bone graft is to be placed, you will expect some minor swelling and occasionally bruising afterwards.
For most patients, any of the simple painkillers you might take for a headache will be all that is needed for a few days. If you experience more discomfort than this, contact your dentist who can prescribe a stronger medication.
During the first few days, you should report any unexpected levels of pain or swelling so that it can be assessed. If in doubt, always ask for advice, as early detection of a problem will often lead to a simpler solution. You may also be asked to take a course of antibiotics and to follow some simple procedures such as rinsing with salt water or an antiseptic mouth rinse. It is important that you follow these instructions.