Implants are successful and effective in majority of patients treated. A natural tooth consists of a crown, and the root. It is the root in the jawbone that actually holds the natural tooth in place, but with a ligament attachment which has elasticity, or “give”. Implants become Osseointegrated or in common terms “bonded to the bone.” So this is different that a tooth, which normally has a ligament surrounding the entire tooth adjacent to the bone. A dental implant is a small titanium screw-like cylinder that serves as a replacement for the root portion of a missing natural tooth. Titanium is used because it is the most compatible with our human body.
A dental implant is placed in the bone of the upper or lower jaw and functions as an anchor for the replacement tooth just like roots hold natural teeth in place. In addition implants can act as mechanism to attach a removable prosthesis, like a complete denture of partial denture. Therefore, after the bone has grown around the implant, implants can hold a crown, bridge, partial overdenture or complete overdenture prosthesis. Implants can provide additional support where teeth are missing without putting forces onto remaining natural teeth. They may be used to support the replacement of a single missing tooth or several implants can be combined to provide a complete functional set for individuals who have lost many or all of their teeth.
How Safe are Dental Implants?
The dental implant process can take as long as nine months to a year to complete however most patients are happy to wait this long due to the enormous benefits that come with dental implants when compared to other methods. A patient who is in relatively good health, with healthy gums will not normally have any problem with dental implants, and in their case, the question ‘is dental implant safe’ is a resounding yes, in most cases. The procedure is a success in 95% of cases and the dental implants can last a lifetime if taken care of correctly.
The process is not risk free however, as in 5% of cases the patient can develop an infection at the implant site and there is also a possibility of nerve damage which can lead to numbness or pain. Further damage can also be caused to the sinuses, other teeth and the blood vessels. If any complications do occur such as the implant not bonding with the bone, the dental implant can either be tightened or removed completely depending on the nature of the problem.
The Dental Implant Procedure
If you think dental implants may be the ideal solution for you, the first step will be to speak to your dentist and have an initial consultation. Whether you are missing just one tooth, or whether you are missing all of your teeth, you could be a candidate for dental implants depending on the state of the bone in your jaw. If you have enough bone and if it is healthy, the dental implant procedure can take place; if not, your dentist is likely to suggest other options which can include either a different implant or a bone graft.
The dental implants will be placed during a small operation which will usually be done under a local anaesthetic. Sedation or a general anaesthetic will be offered to patients who are very nervous about the procedure and for procedures that are more complex. Once the dental implants are fitted, patients are likely to feel pain for around a week after the procedure due to the area healing and the stitches. Your dentist will advise you about how to care for your dental implants and the first week will involve eating soft foods, no smoking and a special mouthwash. You may also be prescribed antibiotics.
A second surgery will follow which helps the gums surrounding the implant to heal.
Early and continued studies with implants have shown that those patients treated with these modern osseointegrated implants continue to enjoy healthy, stable smiles.
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