Dental implants have been the dentists’ number one recommended choice for smile correction in case of missing or broken teeth for years now. The safety, longevity, affordability, and natural results of dental implants’ procedure also make it a preferred choice among patients.
However, for someone who is new to the concept, a dental implant procedure can seem daunting. If you are wondering about how a dental implant procedure pans out, this blog is an answer to all your queries.
Who Are the Good Candidates?
A good candidate for a dental implant is someone who is healthy enough to bear the oral surgery, do well through the recovery, and hold the implants long.
Typically, an ideal candidate for a dental implant will have the following characteristics:
- One or more missing teeth
- Good general and oral health
- Good oral hygiene
- Healthy gum tissues
- Fully grown jaw structure
- Free from periodontal diseases
- Sufficient bone in the jaw to support the implants
Besides these prerequisites, it is crucial for a dental implant patient to have a fair tolerance to pain and disciplined hygiene habits so that there are no complications during recovery.
According to the standards mentioned above, preparatory tests, imaging, and examinations need to be conducted to determine whether a patient is a good candidate. A comprehensive dental examination is one of the most commonly used techniques to better understand the alignment, crowding, stability, and flexibility of teeth and jaws.
Besides qualifying a patient as the right candidate for dental implant, these examinations will help the doctor draft a roadmap for the entire procedure. Next, the patient’s medical history will be reviewed, following which an optimized treatment plan will be developed.
The dentist might also recommend some preparatory antibiotic medication to start a few days before the oral surgery as a preventive measure for implant failure. Based on the sedation used for the surgery, the doctor will also suggest a pre-surgery meal plan. For instance, under IV sedation, the patient will be advised to come for the surgery on an empty stomach.
The Dental Implants Procedure
Getting a dental implant is not a single-sitting procedure even after consultation and tests are done. The procedure requires 2-3 sittings excluding the regular check-ups that follow. Let’s break down the main steps of a dental implant procedure to understand it better:
Bone grafting (if necessary)
This step is only for patients diagnosed with insufficient healthy, natural bones during the consultation and examination phase. Whether it’s a developmental defect, the result of gum disease, or injury, this lack of natural bone can be corrected by bone grafting.
Bone grafting refers to the surgical transplantation of bone tissues to repair and rebuild a stable bone structure that can efficiently support the implant. Although it sounds complicated, it is a well-planned, painless, and safe procedure. Once the patient gets a bone graft, the dentist usually spaces out the next sitting to let the grafts fuse with the naturally present bones in the mouth.
When the jaw is finally healed enough, it’s time to insert the implant. Another extensive healing process follows so that the bones and implant can fuse together, which can take months altogether.
Placing the abutment
The next procedure is much less complicated than the previous one and simply involves inserting the screw (generally metallic) into the dental implant. This abutment is supposed to hold the crown over the implant.
However, if a ceramic dental implant is opted for, the abutment is attached to the dental implant as a single whole unit and is inserted in a single sitting.
Installing the new artificial teeth or crown
A short healing period of about a couple of weeks follows the placement of the abutment. One can choose between removable and immovable artificial teeth for themself.
The former is a cost-effective option and is better when multiple implants are done. It is much like a denture, but the crown can be strapped onto a metal frame. It makes cleaning and maintenance easier and is also convenient to replace.
The latter is an irretrievable option where the crown is either permanently screwed with the abutment or cemented down. This means heavily added expense in case of multiple implants but also drastically cut down hassles of removing and re-attaching.
A patient’s main role begins once the surgery is over. Being responsible for the antibiotic medication, taking utmost care of oral and dental hygiene, and ensuring little to no pressure on the implant for a few days is crucial.
Some of the natural side-effects of the surgery include:
- Grogginess from anesthesia or sedation
- Swelling and bruising of the gums
- Pain and minor bleeding
However, following the doctor’s prescription should help you do away with the discomfort within 24-48 hours. Avoid hard and hot food for at least a day or two and especially keep away from sucking on straws to avoid dry sockets.
Are there any risks after a dental implant procedure?
While dental implants are considered one of the safest options for tooth recovery, every surgery is accompanied by its own set of risks, and a dental implant procedure is no exception. Some of the rarely occurring risks associated with dental implants include:
- Peri-implantitis: An implant infection that affects the gums and can lead to severe oral problems if left untreated.
- Injury: Damage to the surrounding blood vessels, teeth, nerves, or gums, which can lead to bleeding, numbness, tingling, and pain but is generally easily treatable.
- Sinus Problems: Protrusion of an unstabilized dental implant from the upper jaw into the sinus cavity can lead to pain and infection.
A dental implant procedure isn’t anything if not elaborate. It involves careful planning, execution, and monitoring by both the doctor and the patient at every step. There are also a few risks involved if proper care is not taken.
To avoid such risks, remember that there is no substitute for a reputable and experienced doctor. The right consultancy is as important for a safe dental implant as a successful surgery.