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Dental Implants: Procedure, Risks, & Care | Hawaii Family Dental

Dental implants are natural-looking replacements for missing teeth. They can be indistinguishable, matching the color of your adjacent teeth. After the implant surgery has healed, you even care for the implant the same way as your natural teeth, brushing and flossing. There are many reasons why people choose to get an implant, including:

Oral Health: Because a dental implant doesn't involve altering nearby teeth like traditional bridge placement, more of the patient's existing teeth are left intact. The procedure promotes long-term oral well-being by supporting and allowing improved oral hygiene practices.

Cosmetic: Dental implants don't cause any structural damage to the jaw bone, thus maintaining the face's natural contours. 

Durability: With good oral hygiene, some implants will last a lifetime. They are durable and better able to withstand force and pressure from trauma.

Convenience: Removable dental dentures need adhesives. Not only are they messy, but they are tremendously inconvenient. It's also embarrassing if they accidentally fall off.


Types of Dental Implants

There are many types of dental implants out there. For example, some replace a single tooth, whereas others (such as bridges) replace a set of missing teeth in one mouth segment.

On The Bone or Subperiosteal (Removable): Removable dental implants, on the other hand, can be removed. Well, at least the top part of the implant can be. Removing them makes them easier to clean for some. These are still implanted into the gum tissue but are ideal for weaker gums, are suffering from gum disease, or have a more fragile jaw bone.

This is suitable for patients who don't have the required bone height or cannot have traditional dentures. Then, with the aid of metal supports attached to the gum to hold the implant in place, the dentist positions the artificial dental roots atop the jaw.

Pros of Removable Implants

  • Hence their name, removable dental implants can be removed whenever necessary. This makes for easier cleaning.
  • Removable implants are much cheaper than permanent dental implants.
  • Patients with weaker jawbones or unhealthy gum tissue are more likely to qualify for removable dental implants than permanent implants.
  • Ideal for patients with several missing teeth

Cons of Removable Implants

  • The materials used to make removable dental implants aren't as sturdy as those used to make permanent dental implants, so repair or replacement is much more likely to occur.
  • Removable implants can be removed and lost.

In The Bone Or Endosteal (Permanent): Permanent dental implants are what they sound like: permanent. These are drilled into the jaw bone and capped off with what appears much like a natural tooth. Thus, they easily blend in with the rest of the teeth. They look and act like any other tooth in the mouth, are cleaned as such, and have the same function.

The procedure involves the surgical placement of cylinders, blades, or screws into the jawbone. Offered as an alternative to removable dentures and bridges, this kind of implant can hold one prosthetic tooth or a set of teeth.

Pros of Permanent Implants

  • Very strong. Durable materials used
  • Appear more natural than removable dental implants, given that they are drilled into the gums as if they're regular teeth.
  • An excellent option for patients with just one or a few missing teeth

Cons of Removable Implants

  • Removable implants cost more because the implant has to be precisely implemented in place and uses more expensive materials.
  • It can be more challenging to clean than removable dental implants.
  • Permanent dental implants require a stronger jaw bone and more gum tissue than their removable counterparts. However, soft tissue replacement may be an option for a permanent device.

Most people choose a permanent dental implant because it acts like any other tooth in the mouth. 

However, removable implants are great for those with multiple missing teeth, those who struggle with cleaning permanent implants, or those who aren't willing to spend more money than they need to on an implant. In addition, those who like the idea of removable dental implants may like and even qualify for a denture as an alternative.

Is There an Ideal Age Range?

Usually, people 18 and older, after their jaws are fully developed.

A dentist will be able to tell whether or not your jaw is at the right place for a dental implant. There's no minimum age requirement; it depends on when the jaw bone is fully developed.

As for being too old for dental implants, there's no such thing. Patients, even in their nineties, have been successful with dental implants.

However, with older age sometimes comes oral-related issues such as gum disease if one did not properly care for their teeth while they were younger. Older patients may also have less gum tissue in the mouth, which is a problem for those who want a dental implant.

Still, even if you think you do not qualify for dental implants, you may be surprised. 

Dentists may even be able to provide treatment for oral conditions you currently have if they feel you're not quite a dental implant candidate but can be with little extra work.

Many patients, even those with gum-related problems, do qualify.

However, those with a faulty jaw or weak gums may only qualify for removable implants and not their permanent counterpart.


What's Involved?

The dental implant procedure usually involves about three phases. However, the procedure is only minimally invasive, and you do not have to worry about procedural pain. Here are the stages involved in a typical dental implant procedure.


First Phase

The first phase involves burying the tooth root replacement into the bone underneath the gum. The primary purpose is to protect the area from pressure while healing. In addition, the dentist may recommend cold and soft foods and warm soups diet. After recovering, the dentist will expose the implant.

Second Phase

The implant should have successfully integrated into the bone during the second stage. Then, framework posts known as abutments connect to the mouth. Finally, a kind of cuff and collar will be formed upon the healing of the gum around the abutment. This will allow the dentist the needed access to the implant as preparation for the final restoration phase, which involves the prosthetic tooth placement.

Final Phase

The final stage is the attachment of the artificial tooth or teeth. For single tooth replacements, the dentist will create a dental crown or customized tooth or teeth. Customization factors include fit, color, size, and shape, with the overall concept of blending the crown with the patient's remaining teeth. 

The dentist may take some time to provide the patient with a permanent and customized denture or bridge when replacing more than one tooth.


Is the Procedure Painful?

Due to local or general anesthesia, there's no pain. However, sedation may also be an option for anxious patients – speak to your dentist about this. Afterward, your dentist may prescribe or recommend specific pain medication throughout the healing process.

Are Implants Sturdy?

Whether removable or permanent, dental implants are quite sturdy and are meant to act just like any other tooth. 

Often dentists will cover the costs to redo the dental implant in the case of an incorrectly implemented implant or find an alternative to tooth restoration if the implant keeps getting rejected from your body.

Permanent dental implants, in particular, are secured by a rod placed through the gums and into the jaw bone, acting just like a natural, rooted tooth. Removable implants may wear down quicker than permanent implants.

What Can I Eat Afterwards?

You can eat soon after the surgery. Eat soft foods and liquids like yogurt, cottage cheese, and other very soft cheeses, soups, or smoothies.

Anywhere from 10 to 14 days or so (depending on how quickly you end up healing), you'll want to resort to this softer diet.

Especially in the first few days, you may even want to consume just liquids and liquid meal replacements such as soups, protein drinks, smoothies, and juices.

A non-chew diet for these first few days is ideal, even later in recovery if the pain prevents you from eating more solid foods. However, opting for pain medication or an over-the-counter pain reliever can be helpful.

Especially avoid foods that are crunchy, hard, or very chewy. This can cause more discomfort and a longer healing time for your procedure. It can also cause trauma to the area of the surgery. So you must be especially careful with the site.

It's also important to note that you cannot and should not drink through a straw during the first few days or so after your dental implant surgery.

Doing so can cause more pain and bleeding in addition to a dry socket. Instead, sip directly from the glass.

After you heal from the procedure in a few weeks or so, it's safe to eat whatever you want and continue sipping through a straw, that is, as long as the healing dental implant has greatly improved and has not faced further difficulties through recovery.

With your new dental implant, you can eat just as you had before.

How Long Until I Recover?

The healing process can take anywhere from 4-6 months; however, healing processes will vary from patient to patient.

Your recovery time will also be dependent on how well you follow post-surgery guidelines, how many dental implants you had placed, your overall health, and what type of dental implant(s) you had put in.

Tips To For A Speedier Recovery:

  • Take prescribed or suggested pain medications. If any issues occur with the medication, notify your dentist or a doctor immediately.
  • Keep your diet light for a while, and opt to eat foods that are soft or liquid. Sugar-free smoothies are ideal as a meal replacement.
  • Stay away from hard, chewy, sticky, or gooey foods or drinks during the healing process of your dental implant.
  • Don't drink through a straw for the first few days after surgery. Doing so can cause a dry socket and heavier bleeding and pain. Only drink directly from a cup.
  • Rinse with warm salt water a few times each day to promote a cleaner and less bacteria-filled mouth to decrease the recovery time.
  • Avoid very hot (in temperature) foods. Otherwise, these can irritate the healing implant.
  • Follow post-procedure instructions from your dentist.
  • Get plenty of sleep to allow your body to fully heal.
  • Ice down the area to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Be strict with your oral hygienic routine – Don't skip out on brushing or flossing. Do, though, brush with a softer-bristled brush during the healing process.
  • Contact a dentist ASAP if you experience any problems. Getting these issues fixed quickly can help speed up recovery and ensure things come out as expected in the end.

Preventing Gooey, Stuck Food Around Your Implant

First and foremost, it's important to remember that preventing food from sticking to or around your dental implant is impossible. However, to fix the situation, it's pretty simple. Some say maintaining and cleaning dental implants is difficult, but it's relatively easy.

Opt to use an oral irrigator, also commonly referred to as a "water flosser," or a "water pick" to clean your implant. This electronic device is like a little hose for your mouth. It squirts water with the right amount of pressure between and around your teeth. The water it squirts helps blast out food particles and other substances lodged between your teeth. Add water to its reservoir, and use it when the device has a charged battery. These devices often have different pressure levels for different individuals' levels of comfort. A water flosser may not be necessary for those with removable dental implants. Instead, you can simply manually remove your implant and clean it by hand.

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