While medical advancements have made oral hygiene more manageable and better than it was before, several diseases still exist that can have lasting consequences. Poor oral hygiene can lead to periodontal disease, which can result in tooth loss. As one can assume, tooth loss takes a toll on both your physical appearance and self-esteem. A modern solution to this problem that has been gaining popularity is the practice of dental implants. According to the American Academy of implant dentistry, 500,000 people get dental implants in the United States every year.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are the next best option, second only to natural teeth. They are artificial structures made of titanium that resemble tooth roots and are embedded into the jawbone with the help of screw-like structures. From thereon, they fuse with the natural bone. They serve as a base for crowns, or artificial teeth. These artificial teeth are connected to the implant using an abutment, effectively replacing a lost tooth.
Who Needs Them?
Dental implants are primarily suited for people with missing teeth. People who find dentures inconvenient and are not fond of bridges can get dental implants to replace lost teeth. However, surgeons avoid performing dental implants on people with bone or soft tissue disease, acute illnesses, and uncontrollable metabolic illness. To be eligible for implants, you need to have healthy gums and the appropriate bone structure that can support the implant.
Types of Dental Implants
There are two types of dental implants:
Endosteal: They are the most common type of dental implants. They are made of titanium. These implants are placed inside the jawbone, where they can support artificial teeth with the help of a post.
Subperiosteal: These implants are placed above the jawbone but under the gum. This option is preferable for people who do not have the appropriate jawbone height and want to avoid bone augmentation to fix it.
Are They Safe?
As long as a qualified surgeon is involved, dental implants prove to be completely safe. They promote bone growth and are actively engaged in keeping the jawbone in good health. Hence, you can put those fears to rest.
Is the Procedure Painful?
While the concept of dental implants sounds incredibly painful, the good news is, they are not painful at all as people who have had the surgery reported that there is minimal discomfort involved. This can be attributed to the use of local anesthesia prior to the surgery. The implant procedure begins and is completed all while your gums and other parts of your mouth are numb, making the pain minimal.
What Is the Success Rate?
For a very complicated procedure, dental implants have a surprisingly high rate of success. A report published in the International Journal of Implant Dentistry in 2018 mentioned that out of 196 patients, 98.6% of people had a successful implant and were satisfied with the results of the procedure after five years. Hence, it was noted that implants prove successful not only after the surgery but also after long-term use.
Several advantages make dental implants far more preferable than dentures or bridges. Some of them are:
Durability: Implants are very long-lasting, and are great for long-term use, provided that they receive proper care.
Improved speech: Missing teeth or dentures can affect your speech and your pronunciation. With implants, you can speak clearly and naturally.
Convenience: Unlike dentures, you do not need adhesives to keep your implants in place. Implants also save you from having to go through the embarrassing and tedious process of removing or reinserting dentures.
Better appearance: Due to their highly customized nature, implants look very natural. They play a massive role in improving your appearance and do wonders for your self-confidence.
Painless eating: Implants function almost as well as natural teeth. Therefore, there is no pain or discomfort involved in eating.
There is no fixed cost of a dental implant. Dental implants are highly customized to fit perfectly and look natural; hence the cost varies depending on the needs of an individual. Due to this, the price range is a lot wider. An implant can cost you anywhere between $3,000 to $4,500.
Dos and Don’ts After an Implant
Some important things to keep in mind following a dental implant are:
Avoid smoking: You should strictly avoid smoking after an implant as it may hinder the healing process. Smoking may cause infections that could ultimately lead to implant failure.
Brush regularly: Dentists strongly recommend practicing good oral hygiene after an implant to ensure proper healing. Twenty-four hours after the surgery, resume proper brushing. Forty-eight hours after the surgery, begin to rinse your mouth with mild salt water regularly.
Refrain from using mouthwash: While oral hygiene is encouraged, harsh mouthwashes can be harmful after implants. Avoid using mouthwashes in the first week or two and stick to saltwater rinses.
Don’t be alarmed by bleeding: Some bleeding is usually expected after an implant and is completely normal. Keep your tongue away from the site of the implant and bite down on gauze for nearly 40 minutes. If the bleeding doesn’t stop or is too excessive, immediately contact your dentist.
Expect swelling and a slight fever: An elevated temperature up to 101.5 is perfectly normal following a dental implant. Similarly, swelling around the mouth and cheeks is just a part of your body adjusting and healing. This swelling can be minimized with the use of an ice pack for 24 to 48 hours.
Watch what you eat: An appropriate diet is crucial after an implant. For the initial 24 hours, eat soft foods such as yogurt, pudding, milkshakes, etc. Avoid hot foods, straws, carbonated drinks, and chewing tobacco.
Tooth loss is terrible, and proper dental hygiene should always be practiced to avoid it. But if because of some unfortunate reason you lose a tooth, now you know just how to fix it. Dental implants are the way to go if you confidently want to ‘say cheese’ once again.