Health & Personal Care

Dental implants – All the important questions answered

Dental implants – All the important questions answered

Dental care has seen a lot of progress over the years, but millions in the country still experience tooth loss due to decay, injuries, or periodontal diseases. Until recent times, dentures and bridges were the only treatment options available to deal with a missing tooth, but dental implants can now help solve the problem more efficiently. If you’re wondering what dental implants are, what their benefits are, and whether they are successful treatment options, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to know more about dental implants before opting for them.

What are dental implants?
Dental implants are replacements for tooth roots and help provide a solid foundation for permanent or even removable teeth. These teeth are designed to look, act, and even feel like the natural teeth in the mouth.

Can dental implants be used to replace missing teeth?
Several causes can lead to a missing tooth, including gum disease, tooth decay, a genetic disease, or an injury. Irrespective of the cause, replacing a missing tooth is an important part of the treatment process. One of the several options available for doing this is a dental implant, which replaces the missing tooth.
Before diving into the treatment options for missing teeth, let’s understand the necessity of getting a dental implant to replace a missing tooth. There are various harmful effects of a missing tooth that a dental implant can help overcome, including:

  • Bone loss
    If the missing tooth is not replaced, it can lead to bone loss in the jaw. Teeth play an important role in providing support to the jaws, and missing teeth can lead to loss of support for the jaws. With the help of screws that are used in dental implants, the necessary support and strength can be provided to the jaws, which helps maintain dental health.
  • Shifting of the teeth
    The teeth are firmly fixed to the jawbone, but they can shift over time due to several reasons, including decay and gum recession. When a person has a tooth missing in their jaw, the problem of shifting teeth can accelerate, as the void created by the missing tooth gives ample space for the adjacent teeth to move. Due to this shifting, more space is created between all the teeth, which can, eventually, affect their bite pattern. It also leads to the lodging of food particles and debris in the spaces, increasing the risk of bacterial growth and oral health conditions.
  • Irregularities with the bite
    When one or more teeth are missing in the mouth, it can severely affect the regularities of the bite. This can affect the health of the other teeth, head, gums, neck, and the jaw muscles. The pattern in which the chewing surfaces of the teeth come together forms the bite. So, a missing tooth in the mouth that causes shifting of the remaining teeth can affect how the teeth come together and form a bite. When the bite becomes improper, it can lead to a variety of problems like pain in the muscles, headache, wear and tear of the teeth, loss of a tooth, and sensitivity.
  • Problems with chewing
    Teeth are responsible for tearing the food to make it digestible, but a missing tooth can cause problems with chewing, and a person might be unable to bite into several types of foods. In particular, a missing front tooth can make it extremely difficult to bite into something. And when food is not chewed properly, it can affect the entire digestion process and lead to health issues like acid reflux.

These reasons make it essential to get a tooth replacement, and dental implants can help replace one or more missing teeth easily. The procedure involves a medical practitioner surgically mounting a metal post made of titanium into the lower or the upper jaw. The new tooth is mounted on the implant to reduce the chances of tooth displacement.

Why dental implants?
There are several advantages of opting for dental implants over any other tooth-replacement procedure, including the following:

  • Better appearance
    Dental implants do not feel like artificial teeth; they act and feel more like the natural teeth. They are also designed to fuse into the bone, which makes them more permanent.
  • Improved speech
    When dentures are chosen as a treatment option for missing teeth, there are high chances of them having a bad fitting. This can lead to slipping teeth and cause slurred speech or mumbling. In contrast, dental implants solve this problem easily.
  • More comfort
    Removable dentures do not feel natural, but dental implants become a part of the mouth and do not lead to discomfort.
  • Improved eating patterns
    Having dentures fitted in the mouth can cause difficulties with chewing, but dental implants feel and function just like natural teeth. This enables a person to eat whatever food they like, without any pain or worries.
  • Boost in self-esteem
    With dental implants, the mouth can get its original appearance back, so it helps restore one’s natural smile and self-esteem, making them feel confident and good about themselves again.
  • Optimal oral health
    Bridges can lead to a need to reduce other teeth, but dental implants might not cause this problem. Since no alterations are made in the adjacent teeth to fit dental implants, all the natural teeth are left the way they were. This helps maintain oral health for longer.
  • Long-lasting option
    Dental implants are extremely durable. If one gets good-quality implants, they can also remain intact for a lifetime.
  • Hassle-free treatment method
    Unlike dentures, dental implants don’t have to be removed. The hassle of removing dentures can be easily overcome by opting for dental implants. Also, there is no adhesive required to keep the implants in place.

Are dental implants successful?
Usually, the success rate of dental implants can go up to 98 percent. However, where the implants are placed in the jaw plays a huge role in determining the success of the treatment. Also, proper post-treatment care is important to ensure that dental implants last for a lifetime.

Several other factors can play a role in determining the success of a dental implant, including the following:

  • Gum disease
    For people who want to undergo a dental implant procedure, having healthy gums is an important criterion. If a person suffers from a gum disease, they cannot get dental implants. Gum diseases are infections that can affect the jawbone and the gums, and if left untreated, they can develop around the implants and lead to the failure of the treatment. So, it is important to get gum diseases treated by visiting a dentist before getting a dental implant.
  • Smoking
    The chances of a failed dental implant are higher among smokers, since the habit can reduce blood flow to the gums and slow down the body’s healing process. Several studies show that the chances of a failed dental implant in smokers can be up to 20 percent. While it does not make smokers ineligible for getting a dental implant, the results of this treatment option are better if a person does not smoke for a week before the procedure and 2 months after it.
  • Sufficient bone support
    The success of a dental implant also depends on how much bone support is available for the implant. If there isn’t enough healthy bone, it might not be possible to surgically place an implant in the jaw. Osteoporosis can be one of the reasons for bone loss. It is a condition that develops due to decreased bone density, and the bones are more prone to fractures due to their increased fragility. If the gum disease becomes severe, it can also affect the bones of the mouth.
  • Poor oral hygiene
    The degree of oral hygiene that a person maintains will also determine the success rate of getting a dental implant, and a person might not be fit to get an implant if they cannot practice good oral hygiene. In cases where a person has a limited range of motion that affects their ability to thoroughly clean their mouth, a dental implant might not be a suitable option.
  • Medical conditions
    Several medical conditions can interfere with the success rate of a dental implant. If a person suffers from autoimmune disorders like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, it can affect the outcome of a dental implant procedure. These conditions can slow down the healing process of the body significantly. Additionally, the slow healing process prevents osseointegration, which is the strong contact between the surface of the implant and the bone tissue that surrounds it.
    Certain medications can also lead to the failure of a dental implant procedure, so it is essential to discuss all the medications that one is currently taking with their dentist before undergoing the procedure.
  • The expertise of the surgeon
    There are high chances of suffering from a failed dental implant if the surgeon performing the procedure is not experienced enough. The surgeon performing the procedure can be recommended by a dentist, but one can also pick an oral surgeon based on their research. When a surgeon is experienced, they know the exact number of implants required to provide support and perform the replacement procedure accordingly. This plays an important role in determining the success of the procedure, since fewer implants can lead to increased stress on the implant and lead to failure.
    It is also important to have an experienced surgeon prevent iatrogenic trauma, which is an injury caused to the periodontal tissue or a complication that arises due to the activities of the dentist.

How to ensure that the surgeon is experienced to perform the procedure correctly?
It’s important to pick a surgeon who has been performing dental procedures for several years. One should discuss the entire procedure with them and ask them the plan for recovery as well. To ensure that one is going with the right surgeon, they can ask them questions like:

  • How much experience do they have in dental surgery?
  • How many dental implant procedures have they done in the past year?
  • What is the success rate of the procedures they have performed?

What are the complications associated with getting dental implants?
In some cases, a dental implant procedure can cause issues shortly after the procedure, while they can occur years after the procedure in other cases. In cases where the problems occur soon after the procedure, people usually experience them in the first 3 to 4 months of getting the treatment.

One should be prepared for some amount of pain and discomfort that can be caused due to the surgery. The pain can be easily managed with some medication, but one should talk to their surgeon if medication does not help reduce the pain within 5 to 7 days of the surgery. The time taken for complete healing can vary from one person to another and can take anywhere between 3 and 6 months.

Swelling and some amount of pain are common after effects of a dental implant surgery, but one must keep an eye out for certain other complications:

  • An infection starting at the site of the implant
  • Low stability of the implants that can lead to micro-movements
  • Not enough bone support
  • An allergic reaction

While the above-mentioned complications can arise soon after the surgery, some others might show up years after the procedure:

  • Damage to the nerve or tissue
  • Rejection of the implant by the body
  • Upper jaw implant protruding into the sinus cavity
  • Loosening of the implant due to an injury

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