When children start to lose their baby teeth, it’s a good thing. When adults start losing their adult teeth, it’s not as exciting. But of course, not to worry, because there’s nothing that science, and doctors, can’t fix! Getting an implant to replace a missing tooth is a great option. But before you undergo a procedure to acquire a dental implant, it would help to be acquainted with it as well as what to expect.
A dental implant, also known as a dental fixture, is a surgical component that interfaces with the bone of the jaw or skull to support the replacement of missing teeth, such as a denture or crown. Dental implant procedures are done using the process of osseointegration, where bonding materials, like titanium, are used to form bonds between the prosthetic and the bone and provide reparation.
Planning the Procedure
Before an implant can be done directly in the mouth, dentists need to plan the technique they would use to perform the procedure. Generally, there are three techniques used to plan implants. Your doctor may use one of the following methods:
- Making a guide inside your mouth using acrylic to show the position and angulations of the implants which are desired
- He may use a plaster models to help determine the position and number of implants required
- Your dentist may ask you to undergo a CT scan, which would be uploaded to a CAD/CAM software to create a stimulated model of the treatment where the virtual implants would be placed and created on a 3D printer.
Once your dentist has determined the structure of your jaw and teeth, the next step is the actual procedure to place the implant:
1. The area with the single missing tooth is identified
- An incision is made across the gingival and tissue flap to reveal the jaw bone
- An osteotomy is performed in which a the exposed bone is enlarged via drilling
- The implant fixture is placed into the opening, which is covered by bone
- A healing abutment is attached to the fixture and the gingiva flap is sutured
Usually dental implants follow a time period after the extraction of your tooth before the dental implant can be put into place. Sometimes your dentist may replace your tooth with a dental implant immediately after extraction. Other times your dentist may ask you to wait two weeks to three months after the extraction before the dental implant in placed. Some dentists may even ask you to wait three to six months before undergoing the procedure.
Maintenance of Dental Implants
Once you get your dental implants, it’s crucial to take care of their maintenance in order to keep them from disintegrating or falling out. Implants require the same type of care that your teeth normally would, but with a little extra caution. Implants can lose bone density like your natural teeth would, but tend to last. The dental implant causes more blood to flow to the gingival, which is why extra care should be taken when flossing. The porcelain on crowns could discolor with time or could require repair after about 10 years
Getting a dental implant to replace your missing, broken, or loose teeth is a surefire way to get back your great smile! But remember, the procedure can be a bit painstaking and maintaining your dental implants after the procedure is crucial. Once you manage that, your smile will speak for itself!