What are dental implants?
Dental implants are artificial replacements for missing teeth created from titanium, or alternatively from a titanium alloy, which are placed directly into the jawbone similar to the root of a natural tooth. Most often they come in the shape of a screw or a cylinder. The majority of the implant lies hidden in the jawbone (fixture). A connecting element (abutment) is fixed onto the top of the visible part, which forms the foundation for a future replacement tooth – a crown, a bridge or a complete prosthesis.
What are the advantages of dental implants?
Dental implants have a life expectancy of decades and are not only considered to be a long-term solution, but also comfortable and aesthetically flawless. Their use is not limited by the patient’s age and replacement is possible even for children, if their bones are developed enough. Unlike with dentures, implants eliminate the need to involve healthy adjacent teeth and they involve the jawbone in activities it was used to performing before tooth loss. Dental implants can be placed both into a fresh socket after a recently removed tooth and into a jawbone which has been missing teeth for a period of time. One of the main advantages of dental implants is the option to fit them immediately after extracting a tooth.
The many types of dental implants
There are several types of dental implants (cylindrical form, blade form etc.) and an entire range of methods for their fixation to the jawbone. The most common one is a root implant. For it to be carried out successfully, the jawbone needs to be sufficiently deep and wide. But even with patients whose jawbone is not strong enough for this procedure, a solution exists. Either the dentist chooses a special kind of implant or determines that bone grafting, i.e. adding bone to the jaw in the location of the planned implant, is needed. The professional term for expanding bone tissue is “bone augmentation”
How is the placement of a dental implant performed?
The procedure is usually performed in two stages. In the first stage a small incision is made in the gum where the implant will be placed. A hole is drilled in the bone, the implant is placed into the hole in the bone, and the incision is stitched closed, either with absorbable sutures (do not have to be removed) or non-absorbable (need to be removed in 7-10 days). The implant is placed with the aid of a local anaesthetic or under analgosedation. Then the implant is left to heal – so the surrounding tissue covers it entirely. In the upper jaw this process usually takes 6 months, in the lower jaw 3 to 4 months. This healing period is followed by a second surgical procedure that involves making a new incision to expose the implant. A collar is screwed onto the top of the implant. It helps the surrounding gum tissue to heal.
During a two week period, protective tissue will form around the collar to serve as protection against microbial infection. Afterwards, the collar is replaced with the abutment and a replacement tooth can attached onto the top – a crown, a bridge or a complete prosthesis. Crowns are usually attached several months after the fixture is implanted. Sometimes a temporary crown is attached before the permanent attachment is performed. When replacing multiple dysfunctional teeth or performing a toothless jaw reconstruction, bridges are screwed into the bone after implanting the fixtures. In certain cases the healing period can be skipped and the replacement tooth can be attached immediately.
After the procedure
The end of the procedure is accompanied with minor pain, which is usually the most intense after the anaesthetic wears off and lasts about three days. You can expect your face to swell and ache. Minor bleeding and stiffness in the chewing muscles can also occur, which can prevent the mouth from opening. It is recommended to use an icepack on the affected areas of the face. Our doctors will also prescribe you pain relief medication.
A soft food diet needs to be maintained during the first days after the procedure. You should avoid hot beverages and meals. It is important to note that smoking increases the risk of complications and significantly increases the healing time. The artificial dental implant can be used after the initial time necessary to heal the wounds. The implants will allow you to eat normally and socialise without worrying about your teeth. Caring for the dental implants is the same as you would for your natural teeth.
What are the risks?
Amongst the possible complications tied to placing the dental implants are wound infections, sinus problems etc. However, if the patient interested in a dental implant is not a heavy smoker, does not suffer from a major metabolic disorder or diabetes, is not undergoing radiation treatment, does not have insufficient oral hygiene and has sufficient bone tissue, the procedure should be carried out with no major complications. The risk that the body would reject the implants is usually negligible.