dentist checking patient teeth

What Is A Dental Implant?

Dental implants are one of the best innovations in modern dentistry. Yes, it can appear a little intimidating, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if someone had anxiety due to having a metal object inserted into their jawbone. However, its advantages, such as maintaining bone density and simplicity of usage, exceed its disadvantages. If you’re still a little unsure, there are additional possibilities, such as metal-free dental implants.

Traditional titanium implants have traditionally been the best option for dental restorations. In addition to being compatible with human tissue, it is strong enough to adhere to the jawbone, guaranteeing that the implant is firmly in place. It does, however, have some disadvantages. For example, they might not be the best choice for people with an actual metal allergy, such as those who are allergic to titanium or other metals. Another reason is that the teeth appear unattractive as the gray tone over time becomes more noticeable.

What Are Implants?

Dental implants are a type of prosthetic dentistry surgery or artificial replacement method that restores and supports missing teeth or teeth by using artificial dental roots. The primary function of this prosthesis is to avert the possibility of jaw bone loss. 

Dental implants can overcome the significant disadvantages of conventional bridges and dentures. One of these disadvantages is an uneven bite, which harms nutrition and presents difficulties when smiling and speaking.

A tooth root replacement gives the patient the stability and strength they require to continue eating as usual without struggling with chewing. Dental prosthetics also support the preservation of face characteristics and structure.

Why Implants Are Beneficial

Convenience: Adhesives are necessary to ensure a secure installation of removable dental prosthetics. They are not only untidy but also incredibly inconvenient and embarrassing. This is particularly true regarding mouth slides and the likelihood of an incidence where the dentures inadvertently come off from the mouth. However, there is no need for adhesives to attach dental implants.

Retainment of Facial Features: Dental implants do not cause structural damage to the jaw bone. As a result, they aid in the preservation of the natural contours of the face. Furthermore, because they are designed to integrate with the bone, the permanence will eventually remove the impression that they are just implanted.

Durability: With good oral hygiene, some implants will last a lifetime. They are more durable and can withstand force and pressure from trauma. In fact, they are more durable than conventional dentures and bridges.

Improvement in Speech: Dentures can be uncomfortable, particularly if they loosen up over time. They frequently result in speech slurring or muttering. On the other hand, implants are surgically affixed to the mouth. As a result, there is no concern about teeth slipping.

Improvement in Oral Health: Because a dental implant does not require the alteration of nearby teeth, as traditional bridge placement does, more of the patient’s existing teeth are preserved. The procedure promotes long-term oral health by encouraging and facilitating improved oral hygiene practices.

No Eating Discomfort: Chewing can be difficult if you have sliding dentures. Dental implants eliminate discomfort when chewing and remove all restrictions on what you can consume.

Increases Self-Esteem: A person feels self-conscious when wearing dentures. Contrarily, implants do not prohibit any person from the chance to feel good about themselves.

Improvement of Appearance: Dental implants feel and look like natural teeth. Dental implants are permanent and custom-made to blend in with the bone.

Easier and More Enjoyable Mealtime: Dental implants function like natural teeth. As a result, a person can confidently and painlessly eat their favorite meals.

For Some, Implants May Be More Beneficial Than Dentures: Dental implants eliminate the inconvenient task of removing dentures. They also eliminate the need for messy adhesives to keep false teeth in place.

Who Are Good Candidates For A Dental Implant Procedure?

You must be in good health to benefit from dental implants (aside from missing teeth). You also need a strong, fully formed jawbone. Healthy gums and a healthy jawbone are necessary to support the implants.

Your dentist will set up the treatment for you if they think you’re a good candidate for implants and you’re in good health. The appointment will occur either at the dentist’s office under local anesthesia or at a hospital under general anesthesia. This depends on the patient’s particular dental health needs and the amount of surgery that is required.

However, implants are not suitable for everyone.

Factors of a Good Candidate:

  • A strong jaw bone
  • Healthy gum tissue, preferably without gum disease
  • Good oral health

Factors of a Bad Candidate:

  • Pregnant women
  • Those who don’t practice good oral hygiene
  • Ones who have previously undergone neck/head radiation therapy
  • Those who suffer from certain chronic diseases or conditions (due to increased risk of infection)
  • Hemophilia
  • Diabetes
  • A weakened immune system
  • Those who take specific medications (consult your doctor and dentist about this)
  • Steroids
  • Immune-suppressing prescriptions
  • Heavy smokers and drinkers
  • Tooth clenchers or grinders (can place too much pressure on and damage the dental implant)
  • Those with underdeveloped jawbones due to young age

What Is the Ideal Age for a Dental Implant Procedure?

People who are typically older than 18 and whose jaws have fully developed.

If your jaw is in the proper position for a dental implant, a dentist will be able to determine that. It depends on when the jaw bone is fully matured and whether there is a minimum age requirement.

There is no such thing as being too old for dental implants. On the contrary, dental implants have succeeded in patients as old as 90.

However, if one does not adequately care for their teeth when younger, getting older can often bring oral health problems, including gum disease. In addition, a dental implant may not be possible for older people since they may have less gum tissue in their mouth.

Even if you believe you are ineligible for dental implants, you might be pleasantly pleased.

If your dentist determines that you are not quite a candidate for dental implants but could be with a bit of further work, they could even be able to treat any oral issues you already have.

Many patients do qualify, including those with gum-related issues.

However, people with bad jaw or weak gums might only be eligible for removable implants, not permanent ones.

What Does It Feel Like to Have Implants?

Patients won’t experience any pain from anesthesia during the dental implant operation. Oral pain, however, will become apparent once the anesthesia wears off. As a result, touching the area around the tooth implant will cause pain.

Patients will feel the most discomfort in the first few days. But, of course, each patient will experience pain differently. In the event of dental implant surgery, a dentist or doctor frequently advises or even prescribes pain drugs or painkillers. As a result, discomfort should lessen throughout the healing process. Otherwise, a trip to the dentist would be necessary.

The pain should subside after healing, which takes about 4 to 6 months. If everything goes correctly, the dental implant will now feel like a natural part of the mouth. Concerning symptoms include infection, excruciating or escalating pain, bleeding, swelling, and pus. The latter situations require immediate consultation with a dental specialist. After healing, the fake tooth should feel pain-free and completely normal.

Are Implants Durable?

Dental implants, whether removable or permanent, are solid and function like natural teeth. Even though it’s unusual, if a tooth implant does fall out, it’s possible that something went wrong during surgery. It is also possible that the body rejected the implant.

In the case of an incorrectly implemented implant, dentists will often cover the costs of redoing the implant or finding an alternative to tooth restoration if the implant continues to be rejected by your body.

Permanent dental implants, in particular, are held in place by a rod inserted through the gums and into the jaw bone, acting the same way a natural, rooted tooth would. Removable implants may outlast permanent implants.

What Are The Types Of Dental Implants?

There are numerous types of dental implants available. Some, for example, replace a single missing tooth, whereas others (such as bridges) replace a group of missing teeth in a single mouth segment.

On The Bone or Subperiosteal (Removable): Removable dental implants, on the other hand, are completely removable. At the very least, the top part of the implant can be. For some, removing them makes cleaning easier. These remain implanted into the gum tissue, but they are better for people with weaker gums, gum disease, or a more fragile jaw bone.

Removable dental implants are suitable for patients who lack the necessary bone height or cannot wear traditional dentures. The dentist then positions the artificial dental roots atop the jaw using metal supports attached to the gum to hold the implant.

Advantages of Removable Implants

  • Removable dental implants are those that can be taken out anytime necessary. As a result, cleaning will now be more uncomplicated.
  • Comparatively speaking, dental implants that are removable cost substantially less.
  • The likelihood of a patient being eligible for detachable dental implants is higher than for permanent implants in those with weaker jawbones or poor gum tissue.
  • The best choice for people with multiple missing teeth

Disadvantages of Removable Implants

  • Repair or replacement is significantly more likely to occur with detachable dental implants because the materials used to create them are less durable than those used to create permanent dental implants.
  • It is possible to remove and lose removable implants

In The Bone Or Endosteal (Permanent): Permanent Dental implants are exactly what they sound like; permanent. These have a cap that closely resembles a natural tooth and are finished with drill holes in the jaw bone. As a result, they effortlessly match the other teeth. They are cared for as such, perform the same purpose as other teeth in the mouth, and have the same appearance and behavior.

The procedure involves the surgical placement of cylinders, blades, or screws into the jawbone. This form of implant is available as an alternative to bridges and removable dentures and it can support a single prosthetic tooth or multiple artificial teeth.

Advantages of Long-Term 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

Disadvantages 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.

A permanent dental implant is the most popular option because it functions just like a normal tooth in the mouth.

However, detachable implants are ideal for those who have several missing teeth, have trouble keeping permanent implants clean, or don’t want to spend more money on an implant than they have to. Additionally, those who choose removable dental implants can prefer and potentially be eligible for a denture as a substitute.

Remember that deciding which alternative to select depends on a few factors. In addition to personal preference, these factors include:

  • Cost
  • Location of missing tooth or teeth
  • The health of the patient
  • The preference of the patient
  • The quality and quantity of the jawbone that will support the dental implant
  • Recommendations from a dentist

How Is A Dental Implant Procedure Performed?

The most common method of dental implant placement is “staged surgery,” a three-step procedure.

  1. 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 a warm soup diet. After recovering, the dentist will expose the implant.
  2. The second part of the procedure should have shown the implant successfully integrating into the bone. Abutments, which are framework posts, are then connected to the mouth. After the gum tissue surrounding the abutment has healed, a cuff and collar will finally form. Preparing for the prosthetic tooth’s insertion during the final restoration phase will give the dentist the necessary access to the implant.
  3. 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 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?

There is no discomfort because of local or global anesthetic. For worried people, sedation may also be an option; ask your dentist about this. Following that, your dentist could suggest or prescribe a particular painkiller to help with recovery.

However, the pain only becomes prominent after the surgery. Since dental implants require cutting into the gums and drilling a post into the jaw for the placement of the implant, you can expect moderate pain. However, many patients report that the pain is not as bad as expected.

To help alleviate pain during the healing process, your dentist will most likely prescribe or recommend specific pain medication.

Because the dental implant is still healing and may be tender to the touch, swell, bleed, or become infected, keep a close eye on symptoms to ensure they do not worsen or persist for an extended period.

What Is the Procedure’s Success Rate?

Dental implants have a 98% success rate in general. However, results vary depending on the patient’s jaw bone structure and the position of the implant in the jaw. Nevertheless, proper aftercare can significantly increase the lifespan and usability of a prosthetic tooth or teeth.

How Much Does A Dental Implant Procedure Cost?

An entire dental implant, including the implant, abutment, and crown, costs about $4,000. Prices will vary depending on the dentist and where you live. Likewise, the cost also depends on any other procedures or complications. Expect additional charges to be on the safe side.

Remember that permanent dental implants cost more than detachable ones (and that healing time may be longer).

Discuss costs further with a dental professional, and consider insurance that may provide coverage.

Consult your dentist about the restrictions of your current plan to determine its eligibility, or look for a suitable plan on the Dental Plans website.

Do Dental Implant Procedures Have Insurance Coverage?

Most dental insurance policies do not provide dental prosthetic. The purchased plan determines the exemptions. You can learn more about your concerns regarding coverage by speaking with your insurance company and a dentist.

Schedule a consultation with your dentist as soon as possible if you’re unsure if you’d make a good candidate for a dental implant. Those healthy enough for oral surgery or tooth extraction are fit for the procedure. Overall health is more of a critical determinant than age when assessing qualified implant patients.

What Can I Eat After A Dental Implant Surgery?

You can eat shortly after surgery. Consume soft food and liquids such as yogurt, cottage cheese, and other soft cheeses, soups, and smoothies.

You’ll want to stick to this softer diet for about 10 to 14 days (depending on how quickly you heal).

You may even want to consume only liquids and meal replacements such as soups, protein drinks, smoothies, and juices in the first few days.

A non-chew diet is ideal for the first few days of recovery and even later if the pain prevents you from eating more solid foods. On the other hand, opting for pain medication or an over-the-counter pain reliever can be beneficial.

Avoid crunchy, hard, or very chewy food because it might result in more discomfort and a longer recovery time for your procedure. It may also cause trauma to the surgical site. As a result, you must exercise extreme caution when visiting the site.

It’s also worth noting that you cannot and should not drink through a straw for the first few days after your dental implant surgery.

In addition to a dry socket, doing so can result in additional pain and bleeding. So instead, drink straight from the glass.

As long as the healing dental implant has significantly improved and has not encountered any new issues during recovery, it is acceptable to eat whatever you want and to continue drinking via a straw once you recover from the treatment in a few weeks or so.

With your new dental implant, you can eat just as you had before. Implants are solid and durable devices that function in your mouth like any other rooted tooth.

How Is The Recovery And Healing Process?

The patient will have the most discomfort in the first few days following the operation. The recovery period may last for 4-6 months.

However, recovery times will differ from patient to patient.

If you had a bone graft before the implant, you could anticipate an additional four months of healing.

Your ability to adhere to post-operative instructions, the quantity and type of dental implants you received, and your general health will all affect how quickly you recover.

The pain will also vary from person to person, but expect weeks of discomfort. Pain should not persist or worsen during the healing process unless something is wrong, such as an incorrectly placed implant, implant rejection, poor oral care, or an accident that occurred before the implant had fully healed. In such cases, see your dentist as soon as possible.

How Will the Dental Implant Feel After the Healing Process?

Fortunately, dental implants feel just like natural teeth. So naturally, you can initially have trouble speaking or eating if a foreign item is in your mouth. This will depend on the location of the dental implant and the number of dental implants you have had.

If you still have issues with eating, speaking, or getting used to the implant after a few weeks since the placement, call your dentist and ask for guidance on what to do. You shouldn’t feel any different than before you had the implant after a while, and you shouldn’t even detect anything in your mouth.

The Following Tips Will Help You Feel Less Pain And Recover More Quickly:

  • 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 soft or liquid foods. 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. Instead, only drink directly from a cup.
  • Rinse with warm salt water a few times daily to promote a cleaner and less bacteria-filled mouth and decrease recovery time.
  • Avoid very hot (in temperature) food. Otherwise, these can irritate the healing implant.
  • Follow post-procedure instructions from your dentist.
  • Get plenty of sleep to allow your body to heal fully.
  • To lessen pain and inflammation, apply ice to the region.
  • Stick to your oral hygiene routine – don’t skip brushing or flossing. During the healing process, however, brush with a soft-bristled brush.
  • If you have any problems, see a dentist right away. Getting these issues resolved as soon as possible can help speed up recovery and ensure that things turn out as expected.

Is There A Risk For Oral Infection After The Procedure?

After dental implantation, there is a risk of infection, just like with other surgical procedures.

After getting their dental implant, some patients complain about a strange flavor.

A strange flavor could just be the result of poor dental hygiene. However, if this mainly affects the area around your implant or if the strange flavor lasts for days despite careful cleaning, it very well could be peri-implantitis, a mouth infection.

No need to worry – this infection is treatable after seeking professional dental care. The occurrence of this infection can range from minor to severe. However, an expert should examine both cases.

What Causes Peri-Implantitis?

Oral infections of this kind can affect anyone who has a dental implant. Peri-implantitis can develop for several causes, including poor dental hygiene, food getting stuck around the implant, or even a recent implant placement. However, a dental expert is the only one who can pinpoint the origin of this infection.

What Are The Treatment Options For Peri-Implantitis?

A dental expert can help someone with a few methods to eliminate their minor or significant peri-implantitis. For example, in moderate situations, a dentist may correctly clean your mouth and the area surrounding your implant and advise you to switch to a new toothbrush, choose better oral hygiene, or begin using mouthwash. The dentist may also recommend using special rinses (such as warm salt water) or other unique oral care techniques.

A dentist may prescribe medication in more complicated situations to treat the infection more quickly and effectively. A dentist may also choose to replace the dental implant or perform surgical removal of the contaminated area near the dental implant.

How Can I Prevent Peri-Implantitis?

Even though peri-implantitis can seem to develop out of nowhere, some reasons for the condition are unavoidable. However, maintaining proper dental hygiene proves to be helpful. By flossing even between your implant, you can prevent food from becoming stuck there and perhaps causing an infection. 

Regardless, it’s critical to seek dental care if one has implant issues or any other tooth-related condition to get treatment quickly and effectively. Like any other tooth, dental implants have serious implications.

Similar to any other tooth in your mouth, treat your implant with care. For cleaning purposes, remove your implant if it is detachable. If you don’t want to brush it, consider soaking it in a denture cleanser. You’ll have a lower risk of developing peri-implantitis and other issues if you maintain your implant in excellent form.

How Should I Take Care of My Dental Implants?

You are responsible for maintaining your dental implant and the rest of your oral health following the treatment. Concerning implants, here are some tips for proper maintenance:

What can I do to extend the lifespan of my dental implant?

Because there is no guarantee of how long dental implants will last, extra precautions and care methods will be essential. This is particularly true considering the cost of the components that make up a dental implant and the actual process.

But don’t worry; if you take good care of your dental implant, it will survive very long with little to no replacements.

After the procedure, your dentist will likely provide you with special instructions and guidance on caring for your dental implant. If that wasn’t the case, you’ll be happy to know that, while it could be slightly different from caring for natural teeth at first, it can be relatively simple to get used to with time.

The importance of brushing, flossing, and mouthwash swishing remains the same as it has always been. A dental implant can risk developing oral-related problems or contain harmful oral bacteria even though it is not a natural tooth.

You can decide whether a manual or electric toothbrush will provide a better or worse level of hygienic care for your dental implant. But if you struggle to floss around your dental implant, consider using specialized tools like an interdental flosser, an electric flosser, or a water flosser.

Another effective technique for flossing a dental implant is regular string floss and moving it up and down while wrapping it around the teeth in a crisscross pattern. Consult a dentist if you still have trouble cleaning your implant or are unsure about something regarding oral hygiene.

Here Are Some Important Tips To Consider:

  • Even though your dental implant cannot develop “cavities,” oral bacteria can still cause various oral health issues and will continue to grow on and around your implant. 
  • Never let the fact that you have a dental implant persuade you to believe that you need to take less care of your mouth. On the contrary, taking care of your teeth is just as vital as ever.
  • As always, brush, floss, and rinse with mouthwash twice daily. Consider using specialized flossing devices if you have difficulty flossing around your dental implant.
  • Don’t skip your biannual (or, more frequently, if advised) dental cleanings and checkups.
  • If it has anything to do with your dental implant, seek a dentist’s advice if you notice any oral health issues. However, don’t disregard any symptoms or difficulties you encounter, as they could be dangerous.
  • When it comes to the maintenance or other details of your dental implant, don’t be afraid to ask your dentist any questions. They are available to assist as needed and to offer support.
  • Avoid or reduce smoking and drinking. For individuals with dental implants in particular, these two practices can contribute to oral health issues. Protect your dental implant and exercise restraint when using tobacco and alcohol.

Can I Replace My Implants?

Despite costing more than removable implants, permanent dental implants should last a lifetime because they are made of stronger, superior materials. However, with good care, dental crowns may survive longer and only need replacement every 15 years. 

As a result of being constructed of less expensive materials, their removable counterparts are more likely to need repair or replacement more frequently. However, the length of time depends on the level of care the implant receives.

History Of Dental Implants

Dental implants have been around for much longer than you might think.

According to specific estimates, Egyptians existed as early as 2,500 B.C. and used gold wires to attempt to anchor loose or out-of-position teeth, stabilizing them over time. 

Even around 600 B.C., the Mayans were discovered to have had seashells, jade, and carved stones placed within their jaws as a form of tooth replacement or mouth adornment.

You might never guess that our distant ancestors had anything remotely resembling what we know today as a dental implant.

It was evident that doctors in Europe in the 1600s understood mouth and jaw shapes. The earliest forms of contemporary implants were mainly used during transplantation in the 1700s.

However, teeth from the deceased were used at this time rather than implanting an artificial, lifelike tooth to replace a lost tooth. The distance from our modern dental implants was only one step.

The fundamental development of the contemporary dental implants we know today began in the 1950s when a Swedish orthopedic surgeon used osseointegration to implant titanium optic chambers into a rabbit’s leg bones and could not remove them.

Today’s dental implants are artificial, but they act and look exactly like any other natural tooth in the mouth. In addition, we are fortunate to have access to current tooth replacement solutions.

Date Published: May 11, 2017

Last Updated: March 8, 2019


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