A dental implant is a small, sturdy, titanium post that acts as a root structure would for a natural tooth. It is placed into your upper or lower jaw bone. After the bone has grown around the implant, it can hold a crown, bridge or over-denture just like roots hold natural teeth in place. Implants are very durable and can last a lifetime. They require the same maintenance as natural teeth. This includes brushing, flossing and regular dental check-ups. A single tooth or a full arch of teeth which have been lost due to injury or disease can be replaced with dental implants. Titanium metal is used because of its compatibility with bone and oral tissues.
Dental implants are natural-looking replacements for missing teeth that also provide a similar function as your natural teeth. Replicating the natural function and appearance of your lost teeth can be very difficult to accomplish. Historically, dentures or bridge restorations would be used as replacements, but with limited results. Thus, dental implants are considered to be a more natural approach, for a greater success and patients’ satisfaction.
Detailed Procedural Steps are as follows:
Preparing the Jaw for Implantation
A dental implant restoration is commonly composed of a titanium material screw and a crown. A small-diameter hole (pilot hole) is drilled at edentulous jaw sites (where there is no tooth), in order to guide the titanium screw that holds a dental implant in place. To avoid damaging vital jaw and face structures like the inferior alveolar nerve in the mandible (lower jaw), a dentist must use great skill and expertise when drilling the pilot hole and sizing the jaw bone. In many instances dentists use surgical guides based on the CT scans when placing the dental implants.
Placement of the Implant
After the initial pilot hole has been drilled into the appropriate jaw site, it is slowly widened to allow placement of the implant screw. Once in place, surrounding gum tissue is secured over the implant and a protective cover screw is placed on top to allow the site to heal and osseo integration to occur. After up to six months of healing, your dentist will uncover the implant and attach an abutment (which holds the crown or tooth-like replacement) to the implant. In some cases, the abutment may be attached during the initial procedure. When the abutment is in place, your dentist then will create a temporary crown. The temporary crown serves as a template around which the gum grows and shapes itself in a natural way. The process is completed when the temporary crown is replaced with a permanent crown.
Dental Implants Recovery
Dental implant recovery depends on a number of factors, including the various procedures required to complete your treatment. However, it is generally recognized that once an implant has been placed, maintaining diligent oral hygiene habits is required to ensure proper fusing of the implant and bone structure. If cared for properly, an implant restoration can remain in place for more than 40 years.
After the initial surgical procedure, discomfort should be minimal. Swelling of your gums and face may occur, as well as minor bleeding and bruising of the implant site. Medications may be prescribed by your dentist to relieve any pain or discomfort you feel after the procedure.
Healing from the surgical procedure to place the dental implants takes up to six months, while the fitting and seating of the crowns can take up to two months. Again, this timeframe depends on individual cases and treatments. Follow-up appointments with the dentist are essential for monitoring your progress.