In simple terms dental implants are one of the major prosthetic replacement for missing teeth. A dental implant is an implanted metal piece inserted into the jawbone and allowed to be surrounded by dental tissues till it fuses completely with the bone, and can act a tooth root, which will be then used to hold artificial teeth on top of them.
Who can benefit from a dental implant?
Dental implants are used for people who have lost teeth for whatever reason. They can be used for aesthetic dentistry also.
Dental implants can be used to replace one tooth or multiple teeth depending on the need of the patient. They can benefit people who have lost teeth because of tooth decay, injury, medical problems, or trauma.
Since they involve invasive dentistry, the overall physical health of the patient is most important. The candidate for the dental implants needs to be fee from major diseases and some conditions.
Diseases that require radiation will affect the fusion of the implant with the bone, and will hinder growth of tissues around the metal screw inserted in the jaw. Also, people with uncontrolled diabetes are not the right choice for dental implants because the blood sugar will interfere with the healing and fusing of dental tissues with the metal implant in the jaw bone.
People who have periodontal disease cannot be considered for the dental implants because the infection in the gums will not allow the bone to fuse with the metal screw implanted in the jaw. Smoking and alcoholism also prevent successful fusion of the bone and therefore people with these habits may not be considered for the dental implants.
Benefits of dental implants
- Dental implants are a better option than other therapies for teeth replacements.
- Dental implants look very natural and therefore give better smile, making the person more self-confident.
- The neighbouring teeth are not affected by the implant and that makes implants practical.
- The dental implants are get integrated into the bone structures of the jaw. And almost become natural. This prevents complications of other traditional replacement options and are generally more safe and stable.
- It requires very little maintenance and therefore costs less for maintenance after the initial cost.
- Dental implants are cost effective because in addition to teeth replacement, they can also be used to support removable dentures.
- Another benefit of dental implant is, its use as a temporary anchorage, when there is a need to move teeth in desired direction. This orthodontics procedure can be carried out by using mini implants. (These mini implants are removed after their purpose is served).
Actual procedure to install dental implants
The procedure starts with the visit to the dentist with a complaint for missing teeth. The dentist will study the bone structure and looks at all the possibilities for treatment. When he presents the various options available, he allows the patient to decide whether he wants to opt for dental implants.
Before the decision to go for dental implant surgery, the dentist requires x rays and a full panoramic view of the teeth structure to see whether the bone is strong and dense enough to support implants and also to choose the spots where implants can be installed. In subsequent meetings, the dentist will require the patient’s overall health report. Blood sugar levels are very important for the healing process. The blood sugar should be controlled before the surgery.
The dentist will also need to know if the patient is on any specific medication for diseases like cancer or lung diseases because any kind of radiation will not allow healing after the surgery.
The cost factor is an important factor before the surgery. The dentist will discuss the cost of the implants and the other incidental costs including the fees. The patient will have to find out how much will be covered by the dental insurance and other state benefits.
Before the actual installation, the dental surgeon will perform extractions of teeth if needed. It is usually a requirement because many sites where dental implants are placed may have a damaged tooth there.
To install the implant this damaged tooth has to be extracted. In many cases the receiving bone needs an alveolar bone graft if there is a damaged tooth there, either synthetic or real. placed there to obtain a more solid base. This site may need 2 to 6 months to heal. If the site has no teeth on this site, it may have lost bone. Here onlay bone will be placed on top of the existing bone. Sometimes the dentist may carry out implant procedure in the same sitting. When bone is resorbed a lot, the sinus lift may be needed where the sinus has to be lifted to place the bone graft.
The titanium post is implanted in the readied bone with special tools. A cap is placed over the implant and it is left to heal for many months. A temporary denture is made for aesthetic purposes. During the healing period the bone and implant are integrated and the implant becomes ready to receive teeth on top. The dental implant should not be stressed and regular check up of the site is important to see the healing and integrations are going on well. Once the dentist is satisfied with the progress of integration, he will place a prosthetic piece called abutment on the implant and fix it in place with screws. Abutment is used to hold crowns or replacement teeth, which are customised according the image of the abutment mould.
If the patient is fit, and takes good dental hygiene care, the dental implants will last almost for life.