1. What is a dental implant?
Dental implants replace the root of your missing teeth and are an ideal option for people who have lost some or all of their teeth. They are metal posts surgically fixed into or above your jawbone to serve as your new tooth root. They are considered a safe and long-term solution for replacing missing teeth.
Once your implant is carefully fixed, your dentist will attach a replacement tooth or crown. Implants look like natural teeth and can last a lifetime with proper care and maintenance.
Dental implant therapy has evolved as new techniques for implanting have been discovered. Now, implants can support dentures without trouble because new bone forms around the implant to firmly hold the denture.
2. Types of implants
There are two types of implants available, and which one your dentist may recommend to you depends on your jawbone size.
- Endosteal implants:
Endosteal implants look like screws and are the most commonly used implants. They are placed into your jawbone to offer a secure base for your artificial tooth. These implants are ideal to be used for patients who have broad and dense jaws.
- Subperiosteal implants:
Subperiosteal implants are recommended for patients with a shallow jawbone. This implant type is placed under your gum but above the jawbone. Once your gums heal after the surgery, the implant gets secured like an endosteal implant.
3. Advantages of dental implants
They offer multiple advantages, including:
- Improved appearance: They are challenging to spot as they look and feel like your natural teeth. However, since they are made to fuse with the bone, they become a permanent part of your mouth.
- Better speech: They secure the artificial teeth in place, so you can speak freely without worrying about the teeth slipping like in the case of poor-fitting dentures.
- More comfort: Since implants are permanently fixed, you don’t have to deal with the inconvenience of removable dentures.
- Easy eating: Moving dentures may make chewing difficult. However, dental implants function like natural teeth, meaning you can eat your favourite foods quickly without any inconvenience.
- Improved self-esteem: Those implants can replace missing teeth and give you the confidence to smile in public.
- Improved oral health: Fixing dental implants does not demand alteration of the neighbouring teeth. Since your natural teeth are left untouched, your overall oral health isn’t compromised.
- Durability: Implants can last a lifetime with easy care and maintenance.
- Convenience: They are secured in place, and there’s no inconvenience of removing them for cleaning involved, like in the case of removable dentures.
4. Cost of dental implants
The price of implants depends on factors like how many teeth need to be replaced and if there’s a need for a bone graft or sinus lift. A straightforward implant can cost anywhere from $XXXX to $XXXX per tooth. However, for cases that demand a bone graft or sinus lift, the cost of a single implant may go up to $XXXX.
5. The Implant Procedure – Step By Step
- Before The Procedure: At first, your dental professional will conduct a few tests to understand if you are a candidate for dental implants. Anyone undergoing implant surgery must have a strong jawbone. If you are someone who has lost a lot of your jawbone, the dentist may suggest a bone graft procedure before the implants. During your dental visit, you can expect to receive information on what you must do on the day of the implant surgery. If you are a smoker, your dentist will recommend quitting the habit before beginning the procedure, as it can cause poor Osseointegration. The chances of implant failure increase in cases with insufficient bone and implant integration.
- Anaesthetic: When your dental care professional is about to begin the treatment, they will numb you to ensure you don’t feel any pain. You will be awake throughout the procedure but cannot feel anything more than a slight pressure. If you wish to be heavily sedated and completely unaware of what’s happening in your mouth, speak to your dentist.
- Preparing the Implant Site: Once your dental specialist is sure that you are numb, they will begin to prepare the implant site. First, they will open the gums to access the jawbone and evaluate the implant site. The bone needs to be relatively smooth and flat for this procedure. If this isn’t the case, your dental specialist will use a drill to reshape it.
6. Drilling the Pilot Hole
The pilot drill is the first drill your dentist uses to make a hole for the implant. They use a tiny diameter drill bit used to create a small hole that serves as a guide for other drills that may follow later. In most cases, the dental practitioner uses a plastic jig for this first drill. It’s a device made using plaster casts of the patient’s mouth. To use it, the dentist fits it in position and then inserts the pilot drill through its opening centred over the implant site. The jig plays a significant role in centring and guiding the drill’s orientation. Once the pilot hole is created, its alignment will be checked using an alignment pin.
- Finishing the Hole: Once the pilot drill is made, the dental practitioner will use more significant drill bits to attain the suitable diameter for the dental implant. The size of the implant is determined before the procedure begins, depending on the condition of your bone. At this stage, the dental care specialist will recheck the alignment of the hole. If it’s perfect, the hole will be threaded using a screw tap to match the threads on the implants.
- Placing the Implants: The next step is to place the implants. This can be done using a special head for a dental drill or a small hand wrench. In rare cases, dental care specialists use a small to uncomfortable, but trained and experienced dentists will adopt measures to minimise the discomfort. Finally, the site will be stitched, and an implant cap will be placed.
- The Healing Process: The better you care for your implant, the higher the chances of success. Your dental specialist will call you again after 7 to 10 days to remove the stitches. After that, the implant will be given a time of about 3 to 6 months to allow it to fuse with the bone. Maintaining a healthy diet and following good oral hygiene during the healing procedure are recommended.
- Permanent Restoration: Once the healing process is complete, the dental practitioner will place a crown, bridge or denture. The implant cap will be replaced with an abutment, and a dental prosthesis will be placed on top of it.
- Aftercare Procedure: In most cases, patients receive excellent results after implant surgery. However, it is best to stick to soft foods during the Osseointegration process. Your dentist will tell you when is the right time to replace the temporary parts of your implants with permanent ones.
7. How to Care For Your Dental Implants
Maintaining the appearance and functionality of your dental implants is a must for caring for them. Poor implant care can lead to an inflammatory condition affecting the soft and hard tissues around your implants. If ignored for long, this may cause loss of bone and the implant. Cleaning and caring for your implants daily will minimise your chances of developing dental issues, ensuring your implant remain intact for years to come.
Here’s what you must do to maintain your implants.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush:
Toothbrushes with soft bristles are less likely to damage your gums while perfectly doing the job of removing tartar and plaque. You may also use electric toothbrushes to clean your teeth as they can generate more brush strokes than the human hand. However, it is crucial to choose an electric brush with soft bristles.Brushing your teeth immediately after waking up to clean bacteria that have accumulated overnight is recommended. Brushing before bedtime helps remove the bacteria accumulated in the mouth throughout the day, thus decreasing the chances of plaque formation and deterioration overnight. Your dentist may also recommend you brush your teeth after each meal or as required during the day to remove food particles and microorganisms.
- Apply floss to the crown and bridge:
Special floss available in the market is designed to clean beneath and around dental implants. Primarily, they are designed with two stiff nylon ends and a fuzzy centre that allows easy cleaning on and around the dental implant and any porcelain that meets the gum line. The firm ends make it easy to enter the floss between the implants and draw it through to the other side. You may then brush it side to side against the implant surface. You may use this floss after brushing to remove any toothpaste residue. With this floss, you can spread the fluoride evenly around the implant and prevent the growth of bacteria.
- Use low-abrasive toothpaste:
You must use toothpaste that contains no abrasive components like baking soda or other stain-remover agents because these ingredients may damage the glaze of your porcelain implants. Instead, invest in toothpaste formulated specifically for implants, or you may ask your dentist for recommendations.
- Brush below and around the dental implant crown:
It is common for bacteria and plaque to accumulate below and around the implant crown, thus increasing the chances of developing peri-implantitis. To clean these difficult-to-reach areas, you may get an angled-neck toothbrush or an interdental brush with a small head.
8. Who is A Good Candidate for Dental Implants?
The implants are ideal for people of all ages. However, to be a candidate for this surgery, you must have the following:
- Healthy Gums:
They require the dentist to work closely with your gums. This is why healthy gums are essential for anyone undergoing implant surgery. Unfortunately, patients with gum infections aren’t a candidate for this treatment.
- Sufficient Bone Density:
An implant is fixed into the jawbone, which is why there’s a need for a sufficient amount of bone density. If you don’t have a strong jaw for anchoring the implants, this treatment isn’t for you. In this case, your dentist will recommend you undergo additional treatments to rebuild your bone and then go for implants.
- Good Oral Health & Hygiene:
For the implant procedure to be successful, the patient must have no infections or other dental problems. People who maintain good oral hygiene and have no other dental issues are considered good candidates for implants. Daily brushing, flossing, and regularly visiting the dentist are essential for keeping your implants and overall mouth healthy.
9. Understanding Single Implant Dental Implants
A single implant is used to replace a single tooth. It involves placing a titanium screw into the jawbone to which an artificial tooth is attached. Single implants are considered
one of the best treatments for replacing missing teeth, even better than bridges or dentures.
10. All-on-4 Dental Implants
The All-on-4 dental implant is a technique that involves the placement of four implants in the upper or lower set of teeth. They are ideal for people who have lost all their teeth due to a disease or injury. In addition, these implants can easily support an entire set of dentures.
All-on-4 implants improve the function of your teeth while looking natural and keeping you comfortable. A significant benefit of all-on-4 is that your mouth doesn’t require the placement of individual implants for every tooth. Instead, four implants are placed in the jawbone, and the dentures are attached. Another advantage of this implant type is a short treatment time. With all-on-four, you can expect reduced surgical trauma and a lower risk of failure. Compared to traditional implants, all-on-4 is a cost-effective teeth replacement option.
11. All-on-6 Dental Implants
All-on-6 dental implants support an entire arch of artificial teeth on six implants in total. Its procedure involves placing six titanium posts into the jawbone that cater as a sturdy base for artificial teeth. They are known to be a more permanent solution than dentures. A significant advantage of these implants is that they preserve bone loss in the jawbone. Also, they offer more stability than dentures, allowing you to eat and speak freely.
12. Lifespan of Dental Implants
Implants can last for about 25 years with proper care. They are known to serve longer than any other teeth replacement options.
The exact duration for which your dental implant will cater depends on various factors like:
- Oral hygiene
- Eating habits
- Implants location in your mouth
- Your dentist who carries out the procedure
Patients who follow a good dental care routine can expect their implants to last longer. This includes brushing and flossing daily and visiting the dentist regularly to receive preventative dental care.
Importantly, implants installed by a skilled and experienced dentist may last longer than those put by a less experienced surgeon. Therefore, choosing a professional dental care provider is essential to get your implants done.
13. Why do Implants Fail?
The failure may occur due to various reasons. Being aware of these reasons can help you take the necessary precautions and extend the life of your implants.
Wear and Tear: Any kind of impact on your teeth can reduce the lifespan of your implants. Hence, if a person opens corked bottles or packages with teeth or chews on hard substances not fit for consumption, their implants may not last long.
Implants in the back of the mouth are at a higher risk of failure than implants in the front. Implants in the back can fail even under normal and appropriate use, mainly because they are subject to receiving more pressure while eating.
Unhealthy Habits: Habits like excessive smoking and alcohol consumption can affect your teeth to a great extent. They may harm your mouth and pose a risk to the integrity and longevity of dental implants.
Medical Conditions: In some cases, implants may fail due to certain diseases and medical conditions. Some of the most common diseases that may affect the success of dental implants are:
- Gum disease
- Autoimmune diseases
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Suppose you are on certain medications while getting your implant treatment done. The chances of treatment success are reduced.
14. What Are the Signs of Implant Failure?
Complications may arise during the treatment, mainly if performed by an inexperienced professional. The implant failure may occur immediately after the operative period or be a long-term failure. Here are some signs that may indicate an implant failure.
- Severe pain or discomfort
- Difficulty in eating
- Receding gums around the implant
- Moving or lose the implant
- Swollen gums
- Teeth grinding
- Implant micro-movements
- Unexpected allergic reactions
If you spot these signs, you should see your dentist immediately. Depending on the cause of the failure, your dentist may determine an appropriate treatment. For example,
if the failure occurs due to a gum infection known as peri-implantitis, the treatment may consist of simply cleaning the implant and maintaining better oral hygiene.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
A bone graft may be needed if there isn’t enough bone to support the implants. A bone graft is a procedure where new bone is placed in the jaw to help support the implants. The type of bone graft will depend on the amount of bone needed and where it needs to be placed. In some cases, special membranes may also be used to help promote new bone growth.
The healing process after a bone graft can take several months, so patience is essential. Once the graft has healed, implant surgery can be scheduled.
Schedule an appointment with an oral surgeon to learn about your treatment options for missing teeth. They will be able to assess your individual needs and recommend the best course of treatment. Moreover, they can answer any questions you may have about the implant process.
If you don’t replace your missing teeth, it can cause a domino effect in your mouth. The gaps created by missing teeth can cause the remaining teeth to shift out of position and
lead to gum disease. Additionally, chewing becomes more challenging, leading to problems properly digesting food. Missing teeth can also impact your overall health since it becomes harder to eat healthy foods when you can’t chew properly. Additionally, studies have shown that people with missing teeth are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. Therefore, replacing your missing teeth is essential to maintain good oral health and overall well-being. One of the best ways to replace missing teeth is by choosing dental implants. Implants are a permanent solution that will help you regain your smile and improve your quality of life.
This is a difficult question because it can vary from person to person, depending on their circumstances. However, dental implants are designed to last for many years. With proper care and maintenance, they can often last a lifetime. To care for your dental implants, brush and floss regularly and visit your dentist for regular check-ups. Also, avoid smoking, which can increase the risk of implant failure. Eating a healthy diet and avoiding biting or chewing on hard objects is also recommended, as this can damage the implants. If you have concerns about your implants, speak to your dental specialist about them. They will be able to give you more specific advice on how to care for your implants and how long they are likely to last.
There are different kinds of dental professionals who can offer implants. For example, a patient would visit their dentist for missing teeth issues. If an implant is an option for you, your dentist may recommend you to a professional who is experienced in handling implant procedures. If you are visiting a larger dental practice, they may have many dental professionals visiting the clinic, meaning you can have the entire implant procedure done under one roof. If you see a dental specialist with smaller practices, they may refer you to specialists elsewhere.
The procedure will be performed by oral and maxillofacial surgeons, who are also trained as general dental care specialist. Oral surgeons can perform various surgical procedures, including dental implants, wisdom teeth extraction, and root canals.
Periodontists can also fix implants. A periodontist may offer an implant based on a patient’s needs. For example, if periodontal disease is the cause of the patient’s missing teeth, it is best to get implants fixed by a periodontist.
Dental implants are considered very safe. They are one of the most common surgical procedures performed in Australia. The majority of them placed each year are successful. However, as with any surgery, there is also a risk of complications with implants. Some potential risks associated with implants include infection, failure, and nerve damage. However, these risks are minimal and can generally be prevented by choosing a qualified and experienced dentist to perform your procedure. Also, the aftercare instructions provided by your dentist should be followed closely to help ensure a successful outcome.
If you are considering dental implants, you must consult a qualified and experienced dentist to discuss the risks and benefits. They will be able to help you make an informed decision about Whether or not dental implants are right for you.