Dental implants are an increasingly popular tooth replacement method that your dentist may suggest for missing teeth. Set into the jaw, they function just like natural teeth and become a permanent part of your mouth. In addition, dental implants don’t need any special support or adhesives as bridges do. Now that we’ve given you a brief overview of dental implants let’s see how they work in more detail.
What is a dental implant?
Dental implants are artificial teeth that contain a titanium post, an abutment and a crown. The titanium post acts as a tooth root and is implanted in the jawbone and gum tissue. By using dental implants, dentists can replace:
- A single tooth
- Several teeth
- A full arch of teeth
In addition, when full implants are not an option, they can also provide support for dentures and make them more comfortable to wear.
A dental implant has three parts:
– A small titanium screw that integrates into the jaw
– The abutment which is used to attach a crown, bridge, or removable denture to the implant fixture
– A tooth-shaped porcelain crown (in case of a single-tooth implant) for a natural-looking restoration.
The function of the implant screw is to replace the missing tooth’s roots and act as an artificial root. This then stimulates the jaw bone surrounding it to keep it healthy. Since titanium screws are biocompatible, there is little danger of rejection by human bodies.
Who is a good candidate for teeth implants?
Dental implants are suitable for anyone that has:
- A fully grown jawbone.
- Healthy oral tissues.
- One or more missing teeth.
- Adequate bone to support an implant or be able to have a bone graft.
- Commit to a lengthy procedure lasting several months.
- No prolonged gum disease
Benefits of teeth implants
There are many benefits of dental implants over other tooth replacement methods, such as dentures and conventional bridges/crowns. Dental implants offer many benefits that cannot be found with other dental replacements, such as
- The ability to bite and chew properly. In fact, an implant can provide up to 90% of the biting force of a natural tooth because it is permanently fixed in the mouth
- Prevention of bone loss by stimulating the jawbone and gum tissue
- Self-supportiveness and increased stability in comparison to a bridge or denture
- Permanent solution for tooth loss with a reported survival rate over 10 years between 90-95%
- Lifelike appearance
- Easy upkeep–cared for in the same way as natural teeth
How do teeth implants work?
Dental implants are inserted into the jawbone via a process called osseointegration. In this process, blood cells attach to the dental implant and help keep it in place. The length of time an implant will stay supported depends on how healthy the surrounding teeth, gum tissue and jaw bone remain.
The dental implant procedure is not quick; it takes several months from start to finish because it’s performed in stages with weeks of healing time between each step.
The first step toward getting implants is to find out if you are a suitable candidate. Assuming you are, the next step is to undergo a comprehensive oral examination consisting of 3D scans and x-rays to give the implant dentist a clear picture of where to place the implants.
The next stage is dental implant surgery. This is a minor operation performed under local anaesthesia and sometimes sedation to insert the implant where the missing tooth was. Thanks to meticulous planning before dental implant surgery, the implant process goes smoothly.
Patients undergoing dental implant surgery shouldn’t feel any significant pain, although once the numbness wears off, they may experience some soreness.
Afterwards, osseointegration will need to occur (between 3-6 months) for the mouth to fully heal.
Once the implant has stabilised, the dentist will attach the abutment to the implant screw. This requires another short surgery. This done, the dentist takes an impression of the jaw area to ensure the correct size and colour for the dental crown.
A week or two later, the crown is attached to the implant screw to complete the procedure, and wow! Check out that smile!
How to take care of your dental implants?
If you are getting a dental implant for the first time, understanding how to take care of it is key to making it last. On average, implants last over 15 years with proper maintenance.
1. Brush all teeth thoroughly twice a day
Did you know that there are toothbrushes designed for those with dental implants? Many people don’t, but these brushes can reach areas regular brushes cannot. This makes them ideal for keeping your teeth clean and plaque-free. When brushing, aim to do so for two to three minutes.
2. Floss at least once a day
Make sure to floss at least daily and even after every meal, if possible. The only method to eliminate food particles from teeth is by gently using dental floss designed for the purpose. If these food bits are not gotten rid of, cavities-causing bacteria will start to form. Be careful while flossing since teeth and gum damage can occur if done incorrectly.
3. Avoid eating any hard or sticky foods
If you choose to eat hard foods, your teeth may break, and you might need more dental implants. Also, dental implants are designed to be long-lasting, but if you eat hard or sticky foods regularly, the implant could weaken over time.
Some examples of foods that would fall into these categories are hard candy, caramel, peanuts and dried fruits.
4. Avoid smoking and alcohol
Smoking not only delays the healing process, but it also weakens bones–an essential part of oral health. While an occasional alcoholic beverage is commonly acceptable, consuming too much alcohol can result in tooth sensitivity and discomfort.
5. Make regular dental appointments
Maintaining dental implants through regular dentist visits is key to both function and aesthetics. If you have questions about your personal implant placement, ask us at your next appointment!
What are the risks involved?
Dental implant surgery should only be performed by authorised dental professionals. It is not very common to have post-operative complications however, if proper care is not taken after the surgery, it can lead to different problems and may even delay the recovery process by weeks.
Below are some potential problems that could develop after DIS.
The most common complication of DIS is an infection at the implant site. Treatment for an infection depends on its severity and location. For instance, a gum bacterial infection may need antibiotics or a soft tissue graft while one in bone could require the removal of the infected bone tissue along with possibly the implant, followed by a bone and soft tissue graft.
In some instances, the gum tissue surrounding the implant can start to recede. If this occurs, it may result in inflammation and pain. Therefore, if you experience any of these symptoms, it is crucial that you see a dentist as soon as possible to avoid having the implant removed.
Osseointegration is the process by which a dental implant fuses to the jawbone, and it is crucial for long-term success. This can take months. If fusion doesn’t occur, the surgeon may remove it. People are usually able to try again once healing has occurred.
In extremely rare scenarios, a dentist may place a dental implant excessively close to a nerve, which could lead to numbness, tingling or pain. In most instances, these are temporary symptoms that appear after surgery; however, some patients have permanent issues. If you experience any problems with your nerves or tissue post-surgery, please see a medical professional immediately, as the IAN (inferior alveolar nerve) in the lower jaw can become severely damaged. IAN injuries can result in any of the following symptoms:
- Total numbness on the side of the implant, extending to the lower lip and chin
- Constant pain or discomfort
- A tingling, ticklish, or burning feeling in your gums and skin
Are you considering dental implants?
Now that you know “how do teeth implants work”, why not set up a meeting with the seasoned dentists at No Gaps Dental by calling on (02) 8007 6727? We are a team of expert dentists who only use high-quality dental implants and are ready to welcome you to any one of our 15 conveniently located dental clinics in Sydney, to help bring your best smile forward!
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks.
Step-by-step guide and explanation of dental implants
Everything to know about a dental implant procedure