One of the most daunting thoughts one can have is losing a tooth, or several! Unfortunately, this is a reality for many people across the world, whether they’ve lost a tooth from oral health issues or an accident. Just one absent tooth can significantly alter your overall appearance, speech and your bite. Tooth enamel is the hardest, most durable substance in the entire body, however, it is not completely infallible. Although, the enamel over your teeth is even stronger than bone and can even exert around 200 pounds of pressure when you bite down.
Living with a gap-toothed grin is not something you’re stuck with that cannot be rectified. Not only is having your missing teeth corrected beneficial for your smile’s aesthetics, it’s critical to prevent future decay and damage to your smile and overall oral health. Some patients choose to restore their smile with dentures or dental bridges, however, these solutions are only temporary. Dental implants offer a high-quality, permanent form of oral health restoration that is secure, durable and natural.
The following article has all of the information you need to know about dental implants and how innovative these dental restorations have proven to be.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants function as artificial replacements for the missing tooth’s root. Dental implants are considered the staple standard of prosthetic replacements for missing teeth in dentistry. This surgical procedure secures the dental implant into the jawbone and it fuses with bone over a duration of a few months. The implants are often designed by titanium or zirconium, two extremely strong and durable materials. Creating a strong, stable support system, the dental implants replace missing teeth and visible gaps to restore the overall appearance of the smile. Designed to look and function just like authentic, natural teeth, dental implants are a viable solution for missing and broken teeth.
Dental implants were first introduced in the 1950s when Swedish research professor and physician Dr. Per-Ingvar Branemark was creating removal screws for dental surgical repairs. Upon this work, he discovered titanium in the screws which had fused with the bone tissue. He continued to further this work and research and determined that titanium could be fused into a living bone and be a highly effective solution. In 1965, the first trials of dental implants were being implanted into patients with absolutely no teeth. Eventually, the technique would become used as replacements for a single missing tooth or multiple on patients that still had healthy, authentic teeth remaining.
When/Why Should You Get Dental Implants?
Dental implants are a viable solution to replace a single tooth, several teeth and even all teeth. The purpose is to restore the healthy function of the teeth along with improving cosmetic aesthetics. Dental implants can benefit patients with the following oral health issues:
- Missing, cracked, deteriorating, or broken teeth that are unable to be repaired.
- Impaired/difficult speech due to broken or missing teeth.
- Uneven, misaligned bite.
- Concerns surrounding dentures or dental bridges.
Gums and the mouth’s oral tissues have to be in healthy, optimal condition to tolerate the dental implant procedure. Therefore, patients who have not had problems with their gums are top candidates for the treatment. Any health conditions that can negatively impact how the jawbone heals would affect your candidacy for dental implant procedure. In some situations, patients may require a bone graft planted onto the jawbone before dental implants to ensure the jaw is strong enough and there is sufficient bone to support the dental implants.
Types Of Dental Implants?
Dental implants come in various sizes, heights and types. Although the primary function of dental implants is to replace the missing teeth, the procedure can also help solve or assist with other dental issues. Depending on your needs and what the dental clinic advises, you have two dental implant options:
- Endosteal: This type of dental implant is placed in the jawbone and is often made of titanium. Shaped like small screws, the dental implant is the most commonly used.
- Subperiosteal: This type of dental implants are fixed underneath the gum but above the jawbone. The implant is often used for patients that do not have a strong, healthy jawbone in place and do not want to undergo bone augmentation surgery to have it rebuilt.
If the patient’s jawbone is unable to support a dental implant, there are several different techniques that can be applied to rebuild the bone structure, restore the jawline and provide a much sturdier foundation to support the implant. Some of the procedures for this include:
- Bone Augmentation: This process involves restoring or having the bone regenerated in the jaw when it cannot support a dental implant. Using bone additives or growth procedures can help fortify the bone.
- Sinus Lift: Also known as sinus augmentation or sinus elevation, this procedure involves implementing more bone below the sinus in the event where natural bone has decayed or deteriorated due to the absent or broken upper back teeth.
- Ridge Expansion: When a jaw is not wide enough to support the dental implant, a bone graft material is added onto a small ridge or space along the top of the jaw.
What Are The Advantages Of Dental Implants?
There are several advantages to dental implants for patients. The most common include the following:
- Improved appearance: Dental implants look authentic and natural to fit right in with the rest of your teeth and enhance your smile overall. As they are designed to fuse naturally with the bone, they become permanent and indistinguishable from your other teeth.
- Improved speech: With dentures or dental bridges, the solution is temporary and can slip inside the mouth, causing you to slur, have confusing and mumbling speech. Dental implants reduce discomfort and slurred speech as the dental implants stay secure in place without slipping.
- Improved comfort: Dental implants become a part of your entire mouth. They are comfortable and do not feel different from your regular teeth to eliminate any irritation or discomfort.
- Improved oral health: Dental implants do not impact or alter the surrounding teeth, leaving more of your teeth intact and healthy in place. That can improve long-term oral health and support strong teeth and gum tissue.
Individual dental implants allow easier, normal access between the other teeth, which does not hinder your ability to maintain your oral hygiene.
- Durability: Dental implants are extremely durable, permanent and are designed to last a long time. With proper maintenance and dental hygiene, dental implants can last a lifetime.
- Convenience: Removable dentures are temporary and just that, removable. Dental implants eliminate the need and worry about having to remove teeth when you’re eating or when you sleep. Dentures also require messy adhesives which are uncomfortable, unflattering and inconvenient.
How Do You Prepare For Dental Implants?
The dental implant procedure involves the bone and because it is sensitive and the treatment must be applied carefully, the process can be long-term. It may take anywhere from three to six months to allow the metal implant to fuse with your jawbone. In addition, you may have to allow an additional few weeks for the crown to be crafted and placed. Patients will have to wait until the bone is completely healed to ensure optimal results. This process can ensure stronger, greater durability as opposed to temporary options such as dentures or dental bridges.
This is how you should prepare for a dental implant procedure:
- Meal Prep: Your gums may be quite tender during the first few days post-surgery. Prior to the procedure, prepare soft foods or freeze soups and smoothies that you can defrost easily. Avoid acidic or spicy foods.
- Organize A Ride: Arrange for someone to drive you to, and especially pick you up from the dental implant appointment. You will likely be sedated, and left with medications and it will help to have someone sober and coherent managing your medications and ensuring your safety home.
- Plan Accordingly: Allow yourself at least a week, or as long as the dentist advises, for you to rest and be comfortable after the surgery. Devotion to rest and care will allow you to return to work or school much sooner. Some patients may heal sooner and more easily than others, however, regardless of how well you may feel, you should still delay plans until you are completely healed.
- Avoid Eating Beforehand: Depending on what your dentist advises, typically you are required to fast for at least 4-12 hours prior to surgery if you are undergoing sedation. Ensure you consult with your doctor regarding this prior to the appointment date.
Ellerslie Dental Clinic is committed to creating beautiful smiles their patients can be proud of. Being a full-service dental clinic, they offer a variety of services from general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry and more. Rejuvenating your smile has never been easier, more convenient and accessible than with dental implants. Dr. Navjot Sodhi provides dental implant procedures at her Edmonton dental clinic to permanently restore and improve the overall health and comfort of the patients’ smiles.
Ellie King is a Content Writer for BreezeMaxWeb: Online Media Solutions, writing blogs and content for the company’s clients’ websites. Graduating from Brock University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism, Ellie ventured as a freelance journalist for a year covering politics, social issues, music and culture and has published articles based on said subjects.