A dental implant procedure is a restorative dental surgery. Replacement of lost teeth is done through this procedure. The tooth root is replaced with a metal base and then replacement teeth which imitate natural teeth are placed on top of the root. Dental implants are the best solutions when dentures do not fit well and offer good support to the tooth roots. This replacement procedure is possible for a single tooth replacement or multiple tooth replacements.
Dental implants are placed in the jawbones and when they heal the gum lining will cover the metal root that is placed and offers stability to the replaced teeth. Because they gel with the jaw bone there is no fear of the implants slipping away. Those with good oral health, strong jaw bone structure are good candidates for this procedure. There is no fear of speech problems and are willing to spend time to have good oral and dental health. The healing and recovery process is different for each person as it depends on the health of the jaw bones and teeth.
Before the procedure starts, preparation is important as it helps for easy and swift healing. Some will be placing dental implants in places where teeth are lost earlier, for some it will replacing the decayed or damaged teeth. If that is the case, then damaged teeth removal will be the first process. Teeth are removed and the area is cleaned from any possible decay to the neighbouring tissues. Some will need another procedure of strengthening the jawbones if they are not strong enough to support the dental implants. Bone grafting is done to provide extra support to the jaw bone. After either of these processes, time is required for healing.
After the dental implants are placed and healed, the process of placing abutment is done. This is done on top of the metal root. This abutment is where the replacement tooth will be placed. The procedures are conducted under anaesthesia and so no pain is felt and there will be a general numbness is felt in the oral region.
After the procedure
Once the dental implants are placed, the effect of anaesthesia does not wear off immediately. As local anaesthesia is applied for this procedure, it will be numb and one can feel drowsy due to the effect. It is recommended to seek help from someone to accompany you after the procedure. There will also be a bit of bleeding – this is to be expected as the surgery has been conducted. Dentists will provide gauze to place on the place of surgery – this will help to stop the bleeding.
Consuming food or drinks immediately after the procedure is not recommended. This is because the site of surgery might move if food is consumed and it can dislodge the stitches that are placed after the surgery. Drinking directly from the straw should also be avoided as it will affect the healing process and dislodged the clot that is formed at the place of surgery. The clot helps with the easy healing process. It is better to consume soft food like soup or jelly that does not put much pressure on the teeth and gums.
Take care of the swelling
Swelling of the face and neck and gums is also seen after this procedure. This is common after any surgery and this will go down in a few days’ time. Placing a cold compress on the cheeks and neck will help to reduce it. Pain after the surgery especially in the cheeks, jaws or neck area is common. Some also experience a headache. Dentists will prescribe pain killers for this pain; over-the-counter pain killers also help to tide over the pain. Getting infections at the site of surgery is a complication everyone must be careful about. Antibiotics are prescribed by dentists to cut any chance of infection.
Slowly as the days pass, improvements can be seen with healing and things will return to normal. It is now possible to start consuming normal food as before, but care must be taken not to exert pressure on the gums. Care should also be taken to reduce physical exertion – like bending head or neck or sudden strong movements. This will induce more bleeding and can affect the bleeding adversely. When healing progresses, the next step of the dental implant will be planned. Replacement teeth or crowns will be placed on the abutment. The time will be decided by the dentists after the healing is complete and checked by the dentists.
Healing is affected by lifestyle habits like smoking. Smoking affects the healing process adversely and is usually not recommended by any dentists especially after procedures like this. Nicotine reduces the blood flow in the vessels and this will lead to constriction of the blood vessels as well – this will in turn affect the immune system of the person and the healing process slows down tremendously. Some will wear temporary dentures after the dental implants are placed. Care must be taken while chewing food using dentures. If pressure is applied while chewing, this will affect the healing process at the surgery site. At any time after the procedure, if there is bleeding or excessive pain or discomfort then immediate care and attention of the dentists must be taken.
Pay attention to oral care
Even after the dental implant procedure, oral care must be taken care of. Brushing the teeth twice a day, flossing like before must all be continued like before. Plaque or tartar formation can still form at the base of the teeth and bring in infection in the teeth. Food particles should be cleaned away from the mouth after each meal. Food particles attract bacterial action and increase infection in the mouth. The infection can affect the bone and bring in bone loss and the dental implant will get loose and fall out. Maintaining good oral health and hygiene and practicing good oral hygiene practices as advised by the dentist and going in for dental consultations twice a year will help to boost oral health.