What are Dental Implants?

An implant is an object that is placed or inserted inside the body. It is placed in order to replace a missing part, provide therapy, or assist as a prosthetic material.

How do Dental Implants work?

A dental implant is a root of an artificial tooth. It is fixed into the jawbone and so it can facilitate permanent artificial teeth. Dental implants can support a single artificial tooth or multiple artificial teeth. They are made of dental material like titanium or zirconium.

Dental implants (implant) help dental surgeons to restore missing teeth. Unlike dentures or other dental restorations like dental bridges, artificial teeth fixed on top of dental implants are closest to natural teeth. They provide superior functionality enabling chewing of food and clear speech.

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Frequently Asked Questions

This is perhaps one of the most common and obvious first questions to ask before dental implants.

A dental implant isn’t an actual tooth, but rather aprosthesisused for replacing missing teeth. Basically, it’s a small titanium fixture the dentist inserts into your jawbone, on top of which the dentist can attach a:

  • Fixed bridge
  • Single crown (cap)
  • Full denture
  • Partial denture

After the implant integrates to the bone, the dentist connects a structure known as an ‘abutment' to your implant, and then attaches your artificial tooth or teeth. So, there are three parts to the process — the implant, the abutment and the artificial tooth.

The dentist surgically places dental implants in your jawbone. Implants serve as your missing teeth’s roots. Since the titanium in the dental implants fuses with your jawbone, the dental implants won’t make noise, slip or cause bone damage, like dentures or fixed bridgework may. Plus, the materials don’t decay like your natural teeth, supporting regular bridgework, could.

Tooth loss is a prevalent issue. Because of this, dental implant use is also a common practice. There are various reasons why so many individuals are turning to implants to replace their missing teeth, or those the dentist can’t save, including having:

To replace individual missing teeth: Many individuals find themselves with a broken or decayed tooth that restorative dental work, such as root canals, crowns and fillings, can’t save. They end up needing to have the tooth removed before infection begins spreading.

To replace multiple teeth: Since dental implants are incredibly sturdy, they’re successfully used for stabilizing dental bridges.

For their reliability: One dental implant that’s taken care of properly can last the patient’s lifetime. Dental implants typically last a lot longer than other dental restorations.

For their appearance: Implants are made to look like natural teeth, making them very aesthetically pleasing.

Dentists have used dental implants for many years, and implant technology continues to advance. Today, dental implants are sophisticated devices that highly trained professionals put in place. They’re one of the most reliable ways to replace missing teeth.

While discomfort can vary between people, most individuals report getting their dental implant was much less uncomfortable than they anticipated it to be. During the surgical dental implant procedure, the dentist will give you an anaesthetic, so you should feel minimal discomfort, if any.

They use gentle techniques, and since the environment they’re working in is clean and sanitised, there’s a near-zero risk of infection. If you follow the dentist’s post-operative instructions and take the prescribed antibiotics, you should experience minimal discomfort. Your dentist will likely prescribe you pain medication as well, but many individuals don’t need to use them.

A few factors determine the dental implant procedure timeline. They are:

  • Your dental health
  • Which teeth are replaced
  • The number of teeth involved
  • Whether a tooth extraction is required before the implant placement

The dentist restores your mouth with an implant in two phases, and the entire process can take around three to nine months. It could take even longer if you have an extraction that has to heal, or if you needed bone grafts before the dentist implanted the posts.

Similar to any oral surgical procedure, there is a chance of infection, pain and inflammation. However, negative effects are rare, and usually minor if they do occur. Your dentist will talk with you about how they can manage these risks for your specific situation.

Also, if the dentist can’t place the implant because there’s no available bone, then you may require a bone and gum grafting procedure, which could increase your treatment cost.

Fortunately, humans get two sets of teeth viz. milk teeth and permanent teeth. When you lose a single tooth or multiple teeth because of gum disease or dental decay, implants can now replace them, and serve as your third set of fixed teeth. Implants have many upsides, including that:

  • They improve your appearance
  • They improve your confidence
  • They can last a lifetime
  • They allow you to have an active lifestyle
  • They improve your ability to eat the foods you like
  • You no longer have to worry about your teeth
  • They never decay because they’re made of titanium
  • Dental implants, in general, have a success rate of up to 98 percent

For two days following your surgery, drink non-aerated beverages and liquids, and consume soft foods only like:

  • Eggnog
  • Milkshakes
  • Cooked cereals
  • Khichdi
  • Mashed daal and rice
  • Yogurt
  • Smooth soups
  • Cottage cheese i.e paneer
  • Ice cream
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Protein shakes
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Plain custard
  • Refried beans
  • Soft, boiled veggies
  • Pudding

On day three following your surgery, eat soft foods that don’t require much chewing like:

  • Cooked noodles
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Soft sandwiches
  • Poached, soft-boiled or scrambled eggs

Avoid crunchy or tough foods like rice, pizza, hamburgers and popcorn. Avoid acidic and spicy foods. Most individuals resume their regular diet seven days after their surgery.

The dentist places dental implants in your jaw by making precise holes in your bone, so that they fit snuggly. They do this where your teeth are missing, but where you have adequate bone to hold the dental implants. In some cases, it’s possible for them to place dental implants on the same day that your dentist extracts your teeth. Typically, however, it takes around three to six months of healing before you can have your implant placed.

Very rarely does an individual’s body reject an implant. The jawbone usually accepts the dental implant readily. The very few rejections are due to rare allergies to the titanium alloy that make up the implant. Another reason why an implant could fail is if you don’t take proper care of it after your surgery. Without excellent oral hygiene, natural teeth fail and fall out eventually. Dental implants are no different. When you take good care of your teeth and your implants, it will help prevent gum decay and structure failure later on.

The average implant process occurs in multiple steps. You may require more than one healing stage. So, there’s a varied healing period, depending on your health, how many teeth you need replacing and other factors. However, the healing process generally takes anywhere from six to twelve weeks.

First, you shouldn’t smoke. Smoking causes gum disease and recession, which makes the dental implant structure weak over time. Therefore, you should not smoke or chew tobacco.

Also, do not apply any heat to your face unless you’re instructed to, by your dentist. Heat could increase swelling.

Don’t use straws. Doing so places pressure on your mouth. This may dislodge the blood clot which is keeping the wound closed, cause more bleeding and delay healing.

You cannot remove dental implants because they’re fixed right into your bone, replacing your teeth in a way that’s closest to your natural teeth.

To be a good candidate for implants, you need to have good oral and general health. You also need to have adequate bone in your jaw to support the dental implant, be free of periodontal disease and have healthy gum tissues.

In general, you may be a good candidate for dental implants if you:

  • Have one or more teeth missing
  • Have enough bone for securing the dental implant, or can have a bone graft
  • Have a fully grown jawbone
  • Have healthy oral tissues
  • Are unwilling or unable to wear dentures
  • Don’t have a medical condition that would affect bone healing
  • Would like to improve your speech
  • Can commit a few months to the process
  • Don’t smoke or are willing to quit

No, dentures cannot be “converted into implants.” Dental implants are metal screws the dentist places into your jawbone to help support and anchor your artificial teeth (dentures). It might be possible for your dentist to place the implants beneath existing dentures, to help stabilize and support them. However, the dentist can only do this if your existing dentures are in excellent condition. The dentist will examine your existing dentures to determine their condition.

Individuals who wear partial or full dentures are the most frequent users of dental implants. Dental implants can help provide support and retention for a removable implant overdenture that the dentist snaps on your implants. Implants help ensure that the full or partial denture doesn’t move, and decreases the need for denture glue or adhesives. You can also use implants with a fixed denture. The dentist may bolt your dentures to the dental implants using titanium components.

Dental implants can last a lifetime if you take care of them properly by regularly brushing, flossing and following your dentist’s recommendations. While your dentist cannot guarantee the lifetime success of an implant, they can provide you with suggestions and guidelines on how to take good care of your teeth. They will base these guidelines on:

  • Your genetic history
  • Proper hygiene procedures
  • Your nutritional habits

Following the guidelines your dentist gives you will help ensure your implant has the best chance of lasting a lifetime.

Most implant procedures are less uncomfortable than a tooth extraction. Nearly all dentist offices have staff and dentists trained to safely provide conventional anaesthesia methods, along with other intravenous sedation anaesthesia choices. When you choose effective IV and local anaesthesia, your operative procedure will seem both brief and pleasant.

Typically, dental insurance does not cover implants. But, more companies are realizing the need for these procedures, so there are some dental insurance plans that cover implants. In many cases, your insurance may help pay for teeth the dentist places on your implants, if not your dental implants themselves. You may want to call your insurance provider and see if you have coverage for your implants.

This is a complicated question since the answer will depend on your specific situation. In obtaining this answer, you’ll learn more about your specific needs. Your dentist can give you a more accurate assessment of the costs of your procedure.

The cost of dental implant treatment will depend on various individual factors, including:

  • The amount, quality and location of bone
  • The number of dental implants you will need to support the teeth
  • The number of teeth that need replacing
  • The type of artificial teeth the dentist will use
  • The types of dental implants used
  • This is something you can discuss with your dentist during your initial consultation
  • To summarise, a dental implant is a safe and tested procedure that you can opt for, if at some point the situation arises.

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