With technology advancing rapidly, solutions to missing teeth have never been better!
Millions of Australians suffer tooth loss- mostly due to factors such as tooth decay, periodontal disease, injury or age. Dental implants are an artificial tooth root that is surgically inserted to the jaw. They come in different forms and each case is individually prepared to fulfill the patient’s needs. There are many types of dental implants that are used to replace one or several teeth. A dental implant is the metal screw that is inserted into the jaw bone and acts as the ‘tooth root’. The artificial tooth, called a ‘crown’ is then attached to the implant with the help of an ‘abutment’.
Dental Implants Benefits
- Prevent bone loss in the jaw from missing teeth.
- Prevent the formation of hollowed or collapsed cheeks and lips
- Are firmly secured in the jaw bone and are more comfortable than dentures.
- Are easily cleaned with dental floss and daily brushing just like regular teeth.
- Prevent gum recession
Dental implants are designed to last several years. Therefore, good oral hygiene is very important! Just like real teeth, implants do still develop plaque and calculus and if left untreated can lead to complications such as bleeding gums, bone loss, infection and pain.
Dentists need to assess you and make sure that you are an eligible candidate prior to getting dental implants. Some exceptions include:
- Individuals under the age of 17 are NOT considered as suitable candidates for implants.
- Individuals with excessive bone loss in the jaw. Substantial amount of bone in the jaw is necessary in order to allow the screw to be implanted in the bone. In many cases, bone replacement techniques, such as bone grafts, can be used to rebuild the amount of bone.
- Individuals who smoke are at a greater risk of implant failure. Smoking slows down and interferes with the healing process and may cause breakdown in the integration between the implant and the bone.
- Individuals who are pregnant are classified as unfit for procedure due to high risks in the health of the unborn baby from anaesthesia and other medication.
- Individuals with certain medical conditions may also be unfit for such procedure. Illnesses such as diabetes, increases the risk of infections and prolonged healing.
It is VERY IMPORTANT that you elaborate on all medical conditions and history.
When ALL teeth are missing, a zirconia, titanium or acrylic bridge is inserted on 4 implants placed in the jaw. All-on-4 solutions are far more comfortable and durable than dentures.
- The surgery commences with establishing the implant site. A drill prepares a small hole in the jawbone for the implant. When several teeth are missing, there is no need to insert one implant per tooth. In this case, advanced ‘All-on-4’ treatments are available and are recognised worldwide as the best solution for a full-arch restoration.
- The second step of the procedure involves the insertion of the implant into the site previously prepared. The implant is cylindrical and the surface is either threaded or smooth depending on the individual’s case. The gum is then stitched closed and the implant is left to improve stability by allowing a couple of weeks/months (depending on individual’s case) for the bone to grow on the implant. This process is called “osseointegration”.
- Patient returns for the following step that involves connecting the abutment to the implant. It is important for the abutment to be connected to the implant once bone has healed over implant. The abutment acts as a connector between the implant and the artificial tooth. The dentist will begin by making a small incision in the gum to access the implant once again. X-rays are taken in order to make sure abutment is placed correctly and impression may be taken to finalise the design of the artificial tooth.
- Once the dentist is certain the implant will sturdy enough to support the tooth, the last step takes place. The artificial tooth may be either cemented or fixed to the abutment with a screw that can only be adjusted by the dentist.
- Prior the implant surgery, your dentist will advise you to arrange for someone to drive you home. You will need a few days off work and/or normal activities to recover and rest comfortably.
- Swelling, bruising and pain are normal reactions following an implant procedure and usually resolve within a week. Ice packs assist with swelling and pain and your dentist may prescribe a course of antibiotics to help with recovery. AVOID ALCOHOL WHEN TAKING MEDICATION
SEE YOUR DENTIST IMMEDIATELY IS PAIN OR SWELLING WORSENS
- Avoid hard foods during the healing process and try to stick to soft foods such as vegetables and soups.
- Maintain good oral hygiene at home by rinsing your mouth with salty water, antiseptic solutions and soft brushing.
- Brush and floss daily to avoid plaque build-up. This can lead to gum infections such as gingivitis and cause infection in the healing area.
DO NOT SMOKE. Smoking impairs healing and increases the risk of implant failure.