Dental implant surgery 101: All you need to know

Dental implant surgery 101: All you need to know

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If you, like millions of other people, are missing a tooth or a number of teeth, you are probably looking for a solution that looks great, is comfortable, performs as well as a natural tooth, and will last forever.

Dental implants are the only solution that ticks all the boxes. Whether you’ve got one tooth to replace or a whole mouthful, it’s the only permanent solution that ensures a healthy jaw and teeth long-term.

What are dental implants?

This is a surgical procedure that replaces tooth roots with a titanium screw. This screw firmly adheres into the jaw, and by a process of osseointegration, the implant fuses with the bone. This then has a porcelain crown attached, which is permanently adhered. There’s no extra maintenance required other than what you would do for your natural teeth.

It’s an excellent alternative to dental bridges and dentures.

Why get dental implants?

Unlike dentures, dental implants are permanently attached into your jaw. There’s no risk of slipping or moving around. This means that:

Dental implant crowns also look fantastic. They are made from ceramic and can be coloured to suit your existing teeth. They feel natural, and you’ll forget that they are anything other than your natural teeth. Their maintenance is only flossing and brushing, and the occasional dentist visit. There is no risk of cavities either, ceramic is impervious to germs.

The best thing about dental implants is invisible. When teeth are removed from the jaw, the jawbone starts to deteriorate. Over time, the bone is resorbed into the body. This results in facial drooping, and an aged look. Implants mean this doesn’t happen. They maintain the jaw health, encouraging bone strength and volume.

Who can get implants?

Most people can get tooth implants. Whether you’ve lost teeth to disease or accident, this is a great solution.

There are some people that are unable to get dental implants. This is due to a range of factors:

Almost everyone else can get implants.

What is the process for getting dental implants?

There are three steps to getting dental implants. A consultation, the implant insertion, and then the crowns being fitted.

First, there will be an in-depth consultation. The dental surgeon will take a range of images, from X-Rays to CT scans, as well as a physical check. This allows a full overview of your jaw and mouth health and allows them to plan where the implants will go. They will ask a lot of questions about your general health. This is to ascertain if you are a good candidate for the surgery. They will also decide if you need remedial work, such as other teeth removed, bone grafts, or a sinus lift.

The second step is implanting the titanium screw. The surgeon will cut open the gum and drill a hole at the implant site, into the bone. They then install the screw. They stitch the gum back together and insert the healing abutment on the implant. Then, you will need a few months to allow the bone and implant to fuse together.

The final step is installation of the ‘tooth’, or crown. It’s a quick process and gives you your final teeth.

How long does a dental implant procedure take?

The standard time it takes from start to finish is about four months. While some teeth prosthesis can be placed on the implants straight away, it’s not everyday practice and if not properly done can interfere with bone healing and impact fusing of implant and bone to one another. This in turn could lower the likelihood of success.

It should take at least three appointments to get the whole implant process completed. The first appointment should be at least 30-45 minutes in total. The implant surgery can take a number of hours, depending on how many implants are required. The final appointment should be half an hour or so.

Aftercare for dental implants

There are a range of measures immediately after the surgery that you’ll need to do to keep the mouth healthy and infection-free. Your dentist should advise you of these measures, which will likely include:

In the long term, while dental implants are low maintenance, they require meticulous care. If not, you risk infection, which could jeopardise the longevity of the implant.

You need to brush your teeth twice a day, and floss daily. The flossing technique is slightly different, as you will need to go under the teeth as well as between them. You also need to visit your dentist every 6-12 months to check your mouth health and that your implants are still performing as expected.

Dental implants are the gold standard solution to missing teeth

With their longevity, strength and natural, attractive appearance, dental implants are the perfect solution to missing teeth. Contact your dentist today to find out how to start the process and if it’s right for you.