Today, a dental implant is the best option to replace a missing tooth. Dental Implantology treatments are highly effective and have proven to be the best solution for patients who suffer tooth loss, mainly because dental implants restore function and aesthetics.
They offer you a long-lasting, comfortable prosthetic solution, and it is also a conservative treatment because it does not compromise the teeth that remain in the oral cavity.
What Are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root placed into the jawbone to replace one or more missing teeth. Scientific research studies have demonstrated that they can last up to twenty-five years, advances in technology and experience are important factors regarding the durability of implants.
When considering implant treatment, both aesthetic and functional considerations should be contemplated. When it comes to aesthetics, some crucial characteristics such as tooth angle and color, materials to be used (prosthesis), tooth emergence and the position of adjacent teeth must be indicative factors.
These considerations will dictate the type of dental implants and restorative components that the dental professional can use.
Dental implants are made of two different materials:
Most dental implants are composed of Titanium, a metallic material, which has been scientifically proven to be very strong and stable. Titanium is biocompatible and mechanically anchors to the jaw bone, this is a process known as osseointegration.
Nowadays, dental implants are less likely to be pure titanium due to the discovery that titanium alloys work just as well as pure titanium.
Today, some professionals prefer to use Zirconia, which is a white crystal material. Zirconia implants are known for being “metal-free.”
It is a material that presents outstanding results with osseointegration, it also has excellent aesthetic properties. The color of the implant and implant abutment is entirely white, looking very natural and won’t show through gum tissue.
Advantages and Disadvantages for each type of Implant Material.
Your dentist will recommend the most appropriate one for each specific case:
Zirconia implants have a higher cost than Titanium implants.
2. Osseointegration and Soft Tissue Healing
Both Titanium and Zirconia implant materials are biocompatible and integrate well with the bone and gums.
3. Ease of Placement
Titanium implants are one of the most common dental treatments and are considered an easy procedure. Zirconia implants surgery has proven to be more difficult due to Zirconia’s strength.
Titanium implants offer excellent aesthetic results. However, some patients are worried about developing a visible dark area under the gum tissue. Still, this issue is addressed using a white or ceramic abutment.
Zirconia is known for its excellent aesthetic properties. The material looks natural and won’t show through the gum tissue.
When Is A Dental Implant Required ?
Dental implant placement is considered when:
- You have one or more missing teeth
- If you have a dental fracture or extensive tooth decay and the tooth can’t be preserved with root canal treatment or another dental procedure.
Advantages Of Dental Implants
- Excellent durability, function, and aesthetics (they look like natural teeth)
- Improved speech, self-esteem, and oral health
- Help stimulate bone growth and prevent the physiological bone loss that occurs after losing a tooth.
Dental Implants Procedure
Not everyone is suitable for dental implants placement. The dental professional will check the general and dental background to ensure the patient is ideal for this procedure. Patients with a systemic disease, insufficient jaw bone, active infection, etc. are not considered good candidates.
Phase 1: Initial dental check-up and planning
The dentist is going to do a thorough examination and will look into your medical history to make sure that there are no underlying complications. They will send dental X-rays and 3D images to see the condition (quality and quantity) of the jawbone. Also, the dentist will take dental photography records and study models.
With this report, the dentist will obtain a correct diagnosis and will develop a treatment plan based on the number of teeth to be replaced, the condition of the jaws, and other important factors.
Phase 2: Surgery
Implant placement can be performed in one or two surgical phases; this will depend on each case. The dentist will use local anesthesia or IV sedation to make you comfortable.
If the surgical procedure is performed in two phases, the implant will be placed in the first phase, leaving it covered by gum tissue approximately for 2 to 3 months. In the second phase, a small incision is made in the gum tissue covering the implant, this is to check the condition of the implant and connect the implant abutment that will be in contact with the buccal environment and will serve as a connection for the future prosthesis.
After placing the dental implant in a single surgical phase, an abutment will be screwed on it. Such abutment will be in contact with the buccal environment; thus, preventing the aforementioned second phase and need for surgery.
It must be considered that we do not always place implants to replace an already absent tooth. Still, sometimes the extraction of the tooth is linked to the treatment plan for the implant placement, so we must assess the possibility of performing the extraction and subsequent implant surgery in the same surgical act. This option will depend on the cause of tooth loss, presence or absence of infection and bone condition.
When aesthetics and function are going to be compromised, a provisional dental prosthesis (fixed or removable) may be placed to comfortably overcome the healing period.
After the surgery is performed, the patient will have a normal everyday life while the implant is integrating into the bone bed. The patient must go to the dentist for regular check-ups after the surgical procedure. The healing process is different in each case, usually varying between 4-6 months.
In the following 4-6 months, the dental implant and bone will fuse, creating a strong, long-lasting union for your replacement teeth. If possible, your dentist may place a temporary restoration during this period.
**A bone graft, soft-tissue graft, or other surgical procedures might be necessary prior to or after the implant placement.
Phase 3: Restorative or Prosthetic Rehabilitation
Finally, all this process will lead to the prosthetic rehabilitation of the dental implant. Once the implant bonds with the jawbone, the dentist will take a dental impression in your mouth. The impression is then sent to the dental laboratory, and the dental technician will fabricate the prosthesis.
The dentist will screw an abutment with the final prosthesis to the base of the implant.
In cases in which we are treating a totally edentulous patient, we can place fully screwed complete prostheses on 4 to 8 implants. These cases require a complete study of the patient’s general and oral condition.
Phase 4: Maintenance
Thanks to multiple research studies, there are complete control and maintenance protocols that assure that implant surgery is an effective and safe procedure.
The need to establish appropriate surveillance and regular maintenance care is justified to avoid both bacterial contamination and possible problems of the prosthesis due to wear that function may cause in time.
The regular dental check-ups aim to control or detect at an early stage any unfavorable situation that may occur, and especially to guarantee the long-term health and longevity of the treatment.
Post-Operative Instructions For Dental Implants
- Do not touch the surgery area.
- Avoid the use of a drinking straw for the first three days after surgery.
- Maintain a good oral hygiene
- If a prescription for a special mouthwash was indicated, use it twice a day or as recommended.
Post-Operative Care For Dental Implants
- Firmly press the gauze pads for 30 minutes to ensure that any post-operative bleeding stops.
- Prescription pain medication will ensure relief from post-operative discomfort.
- Inflammation is generally noticeable in the morning after surgery. Cold compresses will help minimize the amount of swelling for the first 48 hours. Warm compresses will help soothe pain and inflammation that have built up after 48 hours.
- Avoid smoking
- Diet restrictions
Do’s AND Don’ts for Dental Implants Treatment
We advise you carefully consider Do’s and Don’ts after your dental implant procedure:
- Take time to heal after surgery.
You will need lots of rest for your body to heal correctly.
- Maintain good oral hygiene before and after the procedure.
The surgery’s success will mostly depend on how well you maintain good oral health habits.
- Eat well and avoid some foods.
You must maintain a soft diet for the first three days after surgery, avoid chewing hard or crunchy foods for two months, especially in the implant site.
- Visit your dentist for regular follow-up check-ups.
Regular dental visits are necessary for preventive care routines.
Avoid exercising for at least seven days after the procedure
- Smoke or chew Tobacco
Do not smoke or chew Tobacco as long as you possibly can. Smoking affects your body’s healing process and may cause you to develop complications in the implant site.
- Drink alcohol
Drinking alcohol makes it harder for your body to heal and, it will also interfere with medications prescribed by your dental professional.
Myths About Dental Implants Treatment
Myth # 1: Dental implants are for older people
Truth: The jaw bone fully develops in your early 20s, or a little later. So if your general health is good and your gums and bone are in good condition, you can consider dental implants at any age.
Myth # 2: Everyone will know if I have dental implants
Truth: The great thing about dental implants is how much they resemble your natural teeth. Unless you tell people you got dental implants, no one will probably notice.
Myth # 3: Getting dental implants is painful
Truth: Dental implant surgery is less painful than you might think. You may feel some pressure during the procedure, but because your teeth and gums will be numb from the anesthesia, you will not feel pain.
Myth # 4: Dental implants are costly
Truth: Depending on your dental service’s coverage, they may not be as expensive as you think. Dental implants can be a good investment. They can last several years, even longer than a bridge that lasts approximately 7 to 15 years. Implants can last an average of 20-30 years; this will depend on how well you care for them.
Myth # 5: If I get implants, I won’t eat my favorite foods.
Truth: The only time this will happen will be during the first few days after the implant surgery took place, as you must allow the area to heal. Once this happens, the dentist will authorize you to eat just about anything you want.
Frequently Asked Questions
- At what age can dental implants be placed?
Patients can get dental implants from the age of eighteen years and onwards; this is because the procedure requires a fully developed jaw. After eighteen, there is no age limit unless there is some medical or psychological contraindication.
- Can I get dental implants even if I have periodontal disease?
Active periodontal disease can affect dental implants, since they are subject to the same risk factors as natural teeth.
In this case, an alteration known as Peri-implantitis may occur. This is a destructive inflammatory process caused by bacterial colonization that affects the soft and hard tissues surrounding dental implants, putting its integration at risk.
That is why patients with active periodontal disease must control it with their dental professional, and then they can be candidates for implant placement like any other healthy patient.
- Can my body reject dental implants?
Dental implants are fabricated with unique materials that have shown to have no toxic reaction on our body and to be biocompatible, however on rare occasions, weeks after the surgery, the implants may experience a lack of osseointegration derived from a previous infection in the surgical area, lack of vascularization, functional overloads, patient’s habits, etc.