If you have one or more permanent teeth missing from your mouth, it can have several devastating ramifications on your health. For instance, your ability to bite and chew foods could become misaligned and irregular. That may cause digestive issues and numerous other physical health problems to follow.
Another problem with missing teeth is poor cosmetics. People get embarrassed to smile because it reveals their missing teeth to others. Missing teeth can also distort the shape and overall appearance of your face.
Do I Need a Dental Implant?
Dental implants are the solution for anyone with missing teeth. Many patients prefer dental implants over dentures because implants are permanent teeth replacements.
What’s the dental implant procedure?
The implantation procedure involves the surgical insertion of artificial tooth roots inside the jawbone. After that, the dentist attaches a crown of artificial replacement teeth to the roots. Dental implants are custom-designed to feel, appear, and function the same as a patient’s natural teeth.
As a result, the patient doesn’t have to worry about taking out their teeth and putting them back in their mouth like dentures. Instead, dental implants keep the artificial teeth in their mouth permanently. Everyone who sees your new teeth will be impressed with your beautiful white smile and even facial contours.
Dental Implant Consultation
The first step is consulting with the dentist overseeing the dental implant procedure. Not every person is a suitable candidate for a dental implant because it depends on the current condition of their jawbone. A dental implant requires a person to have a healthy and robust jawbone to withstand the surgically inserted titanium posts, which serve as artificial tooth roots.
If the dentist determines you have a weak or damaged jawbone, they will present a few options for overcoming this problem. For example, a dentist may suggest getting a bone grafting procedure to repair or replace the damaged bone in your jaw. It is a surgical procedure where an oral surgeon takes some bone material from another area of your body and transplants it into your jaw to replace the weak bone.
Bone grafting is not always possible for everybody. Some people with severely affected jawbones or gums may have no choice but to get dentures. The dentist will determine whether this is the case after thoroughly examining your teeth and jaw. For this reason, patients are encouraged to seek a dental consultation as early as possible before their oral health deteriorates too drastically.
In addition, you can also ask questions about dental insurance during your consultation. Since dental implants can help sustain oral health, most dental insurance policies will cover a significant portion of the cost. Check with your dental insurance carrier to verify whether they cover dental implant procedures. If they do, find out what percentage of the cost is covered under your insurance policy.
Dental Implant Procedure – Surgically Inserted Titanium Post
There are two types of dental implant procedures: endosteal and subperiosteal implants. If the dentist determines that you don’t have a healthy enough jawbone, you may still qualify for the subperiosteal implant procedure.
A subperiosteal implant is where the surgeon inserts the implants above the jawbone rather than inside the jawbone. A metal frame is inserted underneath the gum tissue and affixed to the jawbone. Another name for this procedure is surgically-inserted dentures. Although, it is a rare procedure that may only be done in unique circumstances.
An endosteal implant is the more common dental implant procedure. You will qualify for this procedure if you have a healthy jawbone or bone graft and no sign of periodontal disease in your gums. The implant is used to replace one or more missing teeth as needed.
During the endosteal implant procedure, the surgeon surgically inserts titanium posts deep inside the jawbone rather than on top of the jawbone. First, the surgeon will cut your gum tissue to reveal your jawbone. Then, deep holes get drilled into the jawbone to house the titanium posts. Finally, the surgeon carefully inserts the titanium posts into the holes securely and stably.
You will be under local anesthesia or general anesthesia throughout the procedure so that you won’t feel any significant pain or discomfort. However, you may feel some discomfort after the procedure is over, and the anesthesia wears off. The discomfort could last for a couple of days, but that is normal. You can still resume your daily activities without much downtime.
Dental Implants and Dental Crowns
The dental crown is another name for the artificial teeth that are replacing your missing teeth. Your dentist customizes and creates each permanent replacement tooth specifically for your mouth. However, you likely won’t receive the permanent crown right after the implant procedure because it takes time to customize a dental crown accurately.
Therefore, the dentist will affix a temporary dental crown onto the titanium posts while they build your permanent crown. A temporary crown is meant to protect your titanium posts and gums for a couple of weeks as you wait for the permanent crown. They consist of artificial teeth but are highly delicate and not shaped like your teeth. So, take extra special precautions in the meantime.
When the customized permanent crown has been prepared for your mouth, the surgeon will affix an abutment onto your titanium posts. The abutment is a metal extender designed to connect the permanent crown to the titanium posts. So after the abutment is attached to the titanium posts, the permanent crown is inserted onto the abutment. That is the final step of the procedure.
Symptoms After Your Dental Implant Procedure
Some of the temporary symptoms of the implantation include minor pain, bleeding, swelling, and bruising. Your dentist will advise you to eat only cold foods or soft foods until your gums have fully healed. You can find some pain relief by taking over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen. Ask your dentist for more information.
How long does a dental implant procedure take?
The actual dental implant procedure only takes 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on how complicated your implant procedure is. After the dental implant is in place, most dentists will wait 3 months before the final restoration of the new tooth implant.
How soon after dental implant surgery can I eat normally?
The initial recovery time is 1 to 2 days. But if you had multiple implants or bone grafts, you can expect to wait for 1 to 2 weeks before the discomfort disappears entirely. Then you can start eating normally and regain the entire function and aesthetics of your mouth.