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All you need to know about dental implants

Restorative treatment is what having dental implants is all about. Losing teeth is one of the major concerns people have. Teeth are lost due to old age, diseases and also due to accidents or trauma to the oral region. Those on long term medications also have reported concerns over tooth loss.

Replacing the lost tooth and giving back the smile and the confidence to go about in the daily activities is what this procedure does. Mimicking the natural teeth is what dental implants do, replacement teeth are placed on the position of the tooth that is lost.

Dental implants protect oral health and remove the fear of tooth decay or loss of oral health. This procedure is possible for those who are older and also those who are young. Lack of proper oral hygiene, consuming junk food and drinks, habits like smoking or tobacco use all contribute to tooth loss in young adults. When the tooth cannot be saved, they can be replaced using this treatment and is a lifesaver for many.

The procedure

Dentists decide on the procedure after doing a complete dental examination. Using X rays and direct examination, they obtain the correct picture of the affected position that would need dental implants. The main focus of the dental examination will be on the jaw bone. The reason being the jaw bone will be receiving the dental implant.

This procedure involves tooth extraction as sometimes it might still have the damaged teeth. After this procedure is done, time is allowed for the area to heal properly. If it is required, dentists might place a synthetic base to act as the base of the dental implant. If the jaw bone present is strong and can receive the implant then this procedure is not performed.

The implant is positioned into the jaw bone and over a few months time, it becomes fused with the bone. The dentist will cut open the jaw bone and drill holes to place the implant. The implants are made of titanium and this helps in being incorporated into the jaw bone. This serves as the root of the tooth. Time is allowed for the implant to fuse with the jaw bone, this can take several months. Only after it is healed can the rest of the process happen.

After this procedure, another small surgery is done to place the portion on which the crown of the tooth will be placed. This portion is called the abutment. It connects the root of the artificial tooth and the crown. A minor cut is done on the gum lining to place the abutment. This is done under local anaesthesia. Then healing needs to take place, this happens faster as it is a small procedure.

Next comes the procedure of placing the artificial tooth. An impression of the mouth and remaining teeth are taken to make artificial teeth. When the jaw bone is strong to receive the crown, then this procedure will be done. There are two different types available. Removable tooth- this comes with the surrounding gum. Partial and complete dentures are available as well. The artificial tooth along with the gum will be placed on the abutment. Another option available is the fixed tooth. As the name suggests, the tooth is fixed permanently into the individual abutment.

The main types of dental implants are Endosteal and Subperiosteal. The former dental implant is placed in the jaw bone. They are made of titanium for easy acceptance into the jaw bone and held in place with screws. The second type of dental implant is placed above or on the jaw bone. This is especially helpful for those who do not have strong jaw bones that can accept the implant.

Now that the procedure is complete and it is a surgery that has been performed, pain and discomfort will accompany. Medicines will be suggested by the dentist to help with the pain and antibiotics will be provided to check any infection that might happen. Minor bleeding and swelling of the gums/face will also be seen. It is important to check with the dentist if the swelling and pain do not subside within a few days.

Follow up care

Right after the procedure, care must be taken on the food consumed. Opting for soft food and drinks will help to reduce pain and discomfort. Hard and chewy food will put pressure on the teeth and can cause more pain. Reducing hot food immediately after the procedure will help, cold food is highly recommended. Taking care not to chew on the side that has the procedure will also help.

Continuing with good oral hygiene habits is important. Proper oral hygiene will help in faster healing as well. The tooth that has been replaced also needs to be cared for properly. Improper hygiene will create gum inflammation. This condition is similar to gum disease. The inflammation will be seen around the tooth in the gum lining and can be due to bacterial action on the surrounding tissues or more force applied while chewing. This is a serious dental concern and needs proper treatment from the dentist.

Proper brushing and flossing will help to remove any food debris that is stuck between the teeth. Unwanted bacterial action or plaque build-up can be stopped by this. It is important to make sure that the tongue is also cleaned routinely. Bacteria are also seen on the tongue and can bring in infections if not properly cared for.  Calcified deposits can also be seen surrounding the dental implants and will require special tools to remove them. If unchecked these can cause inflammation and infection of the gum lining. Infection can spread along the gum lining and oral health will be affected adversely.

Regular dental check-ups, preferably twice a year will help to stop any probable dental concern. Dentists can evaluate oral health and suggest measures to help promote oral and dental health. Taking care of food habits, reducing habits like smoking or tobacco consumption will help to improve oral health greatly.

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