What are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are widely considered the best teeth restoration options. They replace the root structure of your missing teeth, rather than just the visible crown.
Dental implants are titanium or ceramic posts surgically inserted into the jawbone under the gums. Over time, the jawbone heals around the implant structure, making it a firmly rooted part of your dental anatomy. Once in place, the dentist mounts a prosthetic tooth (crowns, bridges, or dentures) over the implant, replacing the entire tooth structure.
The Dental Implant Anatomy
The post is the actual implant — the screw-like component surgically placed in the jawbone. The implant post is surgically anchored to the jawbone, eventually becoming a part of your dental anatomy. It’s made of titanium or metal-free ceramic, materials that favor optimal bonding with your natural bone tissues.
Types of Dental Implants
1. Endosteal Implants
2. Subperiosteal Implants
What material are dental implants made of?
1. Titanium implants
Titanium is the most common material used in dental implants. It’s a light, strong, and biocompatible material that bonds perfectly with your surrounding bone tissues. It has been used for dental implants since the 1950s, so it comes with decades of studies and clinical experience. However, recent studies have shown a growing concern about the risk of titanium sensitivity, allergies, and the inflammation of the gum and bone tissues (peri-implantitis).
2.Zirconia/ Ceramic implants
Zirconia (ceramic) implants are metal-free alternatives to titanium implants. Zirconia doesn’t have decades of research and clinical backing because it has only recently found application in dental implants. However, they’re quickly becoming the new standards in the dental implant industry as more patients are drawn to their naturalized appearance. Recent studies have shown that zirconia implants have a similar success rate as titanium implants with a lower risk of allergies or sensitivity.
Restoration Options with dental implants
A dental crown is a prosthetic tooth attached to the implant. This is the ideal restoration option for single-tooth implants, i.e., if you want to replace a single tooth in a specific location. Dental crowns can be made from various materials, but porcelain crowns are ideal for restoration because they resemble your natural teeth.
A dental bridge is a series of fake teeth made of porcelain or other tooth-colored and natural-looking materials. This is the ideal restoration option if you’re missing two or more teeth in a single row. The entire bridge can be supported on just two implants, one attached on either end of the bridge.
A denture is a removable appliance that replaces some or all of your teeth. Traditional dentures are inconvenient and unnatural because they’re supported on the gums and often slip out while talking or eating. However, denture-supported implants allow you to replace an entire arch of missing teeth with only 2 to 4 implants.
What are the Benefits of Dental Implants?
- Look and feel like natural teeth.
- Firmly-rooted and permanent parts of your dental anatomy.
- Improve speech with no risk of slurring.
- No risk of the implant slipping off.
- Optimal comfort.
- Allows you to eat whatever you want.
- Improves overall oral health.
- Surrounding teeth don’t have to be altered.
- No advanced maintenance requirements.
- Can last a lifetime.
- Indistinguishable from natural teeth.
Potential Risks of Dental Implants
Dental implants have a nearly perfect success rate of 98% — in most cases, if performed by a trained and reputable surgeon, dental implants pose no risk whatsoever. Most patients go their entire lives with dental implants without experiencing complications. In most cases, dental implants improve your overall oral health and comfort.
In rare situations, dental implants can lead to the following complications:
- Nerve damage around the surgical area.
- Sudden opening of the incised area.
- Implant movement or instability.
- Exposure of the implant above the gumline.
- Infection or peri-implantitis.
What are the Limitations of Dental Implants
Dental implants are only possible if the patient has sufficient jawbone tissues. However, the loss of teeth is often followed by the gradual disintegration of the jawbone under the missing teeth as the bone tissues don’t have an impetus for growth.
When patients try getting dental implants several years after tooth extraction, they’re often told they don’t have sufficient jawbone. In that case, the patient with insufficient jawbone may need a bone augmentation procedure to regenerate the lost bone tissues. As such, if you’ve recently undergone a tooth extraction, it’s advisable to get implants before your body’s natural processes make the procedure unfeasible.
You may also be ineligible for dental implants if you have the following conditions, problems, or habits:
- Acute illnesses
- Metabolic diseases
- Bone or soft tissue infections
- Heavy smoking
- Teeth grinding and clenching
- Mental health issues
- HIV or AIDS
- History of chemotherapy
- History of bisphosphonate drug treatment
Dental Implant Procedure - Overview
The specific steps involved in your dental implant procedure will depend on your specific conditions. The dental surgeon will curate a treatment plan based on the number of teeth requiring replacement, the quality of your bone tissues, underlying health conditions, the location of implants, your prosthetic preferences, and other factors.
1. Preliminary Procedures
Some patients need to undergo preliminary procedures before the implants, such as sinus augmentation or ridge augmentation. This is only necessary for some patients, depending on the condition of your existing bone tissues and the implant location.
The following is a brief overview of the procedures.
2. Implant Surgery
The surgeon attaches a small titanium or zirconia post into the bone socket of the missing tooth. Once the implant is in place, the dentist may provide a temporary restoration to protect the area. The jawbone gradually heals around the implant via a process called osseointegration. The healing process may last for 6 to 12 weeks, depending on your body’s natural healing capabilities.
3. Abutment & Impressions
Once your jawbone has healed completely, the dental surgeon will attach the abutment to the implant post. They’ll also take impressions for your teeth to prepare the final prosthetic. However, in some cases, the impression can also be taken at the time of the initial surgery if the surgeon is assured of bone tissue stability.
4. Prosthetic - Dentures
Do dental implants require special care?
Unlike removable dentures, dental implants don’t require special maintenance. You have to continue brushing and flossing your teeth regularly — the maintenance is the same as normal teeth. You’ll also have to go for regular dental appointments for standard checkups and teeth cleaning.
What do dental implants cost?
The cost of dental implants depends on the following factors:
- Number of implants
- Types of implants
- Implant materials used
- Location of the implant
- Preliminary procedures
- Restoration options
- Anesthesia usage
- The dental surgeon’s fees
Considering the variable factors affecting the cost of implants, it’s essentially impossible to give a broad overview. You’ll receive a quotation for your specific case after you consult with your dental surgeon.
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Are you wondering if you need dental implants? Are you looking for a dentist for your dental implants? Are you preparing for your dental implant surgery? Please enter your email address to download our checklists for every stage of the dental implant process.
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