WHAT ARE DENTAL IMPLANTS
WHO CAN GET THEM?
Dental implants are a dental component that is used in different treatment plans to replace or support teeth through a piece implanted in the jawbone. The prosthesis, such as a replacement tooth, dentures, or crown, is affixed to the implant to hold it in place and provide stability and support within the mouth. Dental implants can be a good solution for replacing multiple teeth or for providing stability for dentures because the implants work with the strength of the jawbone to hold the prosthesis in place. Not everyone is a good candidate for dental implants. Because of the way they are placed and used, your jawbone must be able to accept the implants. This will require an examination prior to the implants being placed to ensure that they can be placed. In addition, after the surgical procedure to place the implants, you will have an examination to ensure they are being accepted by the jawbone prior to the prosthesis being put in place.
THE DENTAL IMPLANT PROCESS
Having dental implants placed is considered a surgical procedure, but it is an outpatient procedure. Depending on what is needed, the implants may be placed in stages in order to maximize the effectiveness. Between the stages, the area is allowed to heal. The stages of the process include:
Removing damaged teeth from the area
Preparing the jawbone for the implants, if needed
Implant placement and bone healing
Prosthesis placement (dentures, bridges, etc.)
In the event that an implant does not heal properly, your dentist may suggest removing it, allowing the site to heal, and trying again. If this is not an option, your dentist can discuss other options with you to ensure your prosthesis has the stability and strength it needs to be successful.
Dental implants can be an effective option to provide stability to dentures, crowns, and bridges. Along with helping to make your smile look its best, dental implants provide additional support and stability to your prosthesis, which means it will feel more like your natural teeth.
Q. Why is surgery used for dental implants?
A. Dental implants are placed in the jawbone, which requires anesthesia. This makes the process easier and more comfortable for the patient as well as easier for the dental staff. However, it is typically an outpatient surgery, which means you will be able to go home the same day as the procedure. This will allow you to recover comfortably in your own home after the implants are put in place.
Q. What are the risks associated with this procedure?
A. Any surgical procedure has risks, including dental implant surgery. Some risks associated with this procedure include:
- infection at the site of the implants
- nerve damage, which can cause discomfort, pain, or numbness
- damage to the blood vessels at the site of the implants
Your dentist will discuss potential risks with you prior to the procedure. If you have any questions about risks, your dentist can address them prior to the procedure.
Q. Do I have to use a dental implant for my bridge, crown, or dentures?
A. Many times, dental implants are simply one option for your dental prosthesis. Your dentist may recommend dental implants so that your dentures, bridge, or other dental piece has increased strength and stability in your mouth. This will help it to function the way a natural tooth would. In addition, dental implants are a more permanent solution for dental needs, which reduces the chances of needing to come in for repairs or replacements after several years.
Q. How long is the recovery from the surgical procedure?
A. Healing time varies from person to person, but it typically takes approximately four to six months for the area of dental implants to completely heal. During that time, you may have pain, swelling, and bruising, especially immediately after the procedure. You will have follow-up appointments with your dentist to ensure that you are healing properly. Your dentist will also provide you with information about when to call for an appointment or signs that your implants need attention during the healing process.
Q. Why do I have to heal before the prosthesis can be placed?
A. Dental implants work because the jawbone heals to the screws, adding strength and stability. However, if you are not given time for this healing to take place, the dental implants will not be stable enough to support the prosthesis. In addition, this gives time to ensure that the implants will heal properly and that your jawbone will accept the implants prior to placing the prosthesis. If any adjustments need to be made, they should be made prior to placing the prosthesis.