Dental Implants

A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is placed in the jaw bone. It is a sturdy anchor for replacement teeth. The dental surgery necessary to complete an implant is usually done in several stages over many months. A dental implant is a more permanent and more comfortable alternative to traditional bridgework or removable dentures.

IS A DENTAL IMPLANT RIGHT FOR ME?

Dental implants are considered for a patient who has:

  • Good general health.

  • One or more teeth missing.

  • Adequate jaw bone that has reached its full growth (there is enough jaw bone to attach the implant).

  • Healthy gums and other teeth.

  • Problems with dentures or bridges, or is not interested in wearing dentures or bridges.

  • Time and commitment to several months of procedures.

  • Commitment to regular dental health visits to insure long term success of the implant.

Your dental caregiver will discuss with you the specific advantages and disadvantages of dental implants for your condition. In general:

  • A successful dental implant will provide good long term function and support to an artificial tooth, denture, or bridge. Usually, a more varied diet can be enjoyed, and chewing food feels more natural.

  • Other traditional options, such as bridges and removable dentures put added pressure on surrounding teeth and gum tissue. They require ongoing care, may decay or not fit tightly. Dietary restrictions are sometimes necessary.

  • Financial considerations need to be addressed, because implants are more expensive and require more treatment time.

TYPES OF DENTAL IMPLANTS

The 2 types of common implants include:

  1. A tituanum screw, cylinder, or blade placed in the jaw bone that acts as the tooth root (endosteal).

  2. A metal framework placed on top of the jaw bone (subperiosteal), and metal posts connected to the frame work act as the tooth root.

THE PROCEDURE

  • In preparation for surgery, you may be asked to meet with other dental specialists to assess the condition of your jaw bone and roots. Your caregiver(s) will perform a thorough oral exam, including X-rays, and have models of your mouth developed. 

  • Anesthesia or sedation is usually given before the procedure so that you do not feel pain. Surgery is usually completed in several stages. Your caregiver will prepare the gums, surgically place a screw or other support into the jaw bone, and fit the tooth, bridge or denture into place. Medications may be prescribed to reduce pain and prevent infection. 

  • You will need to eat soft foods for several days after a procedure. After the procedure you may have pain and swelling, bruising, and minor bleeding.

RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS

Dental implant surgery is typically safe and successful. Complications are rare, but may include: 

  • Bone fails to attach to implant. If this happens, the implant is removed and can be re-implanted again.

  • Infection.

  • Injury or damage to surrounding teeth, nerves or blood vessels, which may cause pain, tingling, or numbness.

  • Sinus complications if implant affects a sinus cavity. 

Smoking may increase the chance of complications. Talk with your caregiver about quitting smoking.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Follow up with your caregiver for further examination as directed.

  • Follow good oral hygiene and injury prevention to keep permanent teeth healthy.