The best implant is the tooth root itself.
It is important to try keeping as many dental pieces as possible, but in the case of damaged dentition, or if many teeth are missing, the patient might want to have some implants put in. Implants rejection index is very minor: this kind of operations has a success rate of over 90%. Implants restore the mouth’s health, comfort and beauty, and they look like our own teeth.
What is a dental implant?
Dental implants are little artificial devices made of titanium that are put into either the upper and lower jawbones. They look like a hollow cylinder or screw, and they are very little, similar to a natural tooth root. Implants interface with the bone in a process called osseointegration, and they will support artificial replacement teeth, taking over the functions of the previous natural teeth.
The operation to put in an implant is called implantation. Dental implants can replace one tooth or more. There are various options to replace teeth that will depend on each case.
When it is convenient to do an implantation?
It is convenient to do an implantation in the following cases:
- Single tooth replacement:
When only one tooth is lost, an implant can be put in that space, subsequently covering it with a porcelain-faced crown. This procedure has the advantage that it is not necessary to cut adjacent teeth to prepare the bridge, as it was traditionally done.
- Big holes between teeth:
When there are big holes in the mouth that a traditional bridge cannot cover, various implants can be inserted, which will then support a fixed prosthesis. Implant pillars can also be combined with patient’s teeth.
- Partially toothless patients:
Absence of molars in the rear sector of the mouth – Implants can be used to put in a fixed bridge supported by two implants, or by one implant and one natural tooth. This method is especially indicated for those people who cannot wear a removable denture, which used to be the most common solution in such cases.
- Toothless patients:
To completely toothless patients, who could not hold a traditional removable prostheses or whom a denture would hurt when chewing, a variable number of implants can be put in their mouths to stabilize, retain and hold better a removable prostheses, or even to hold a complete fixed denture.
Situations when implants are not recommended
Placing implants is not recommended in the following cases:
- Patients with poor oral hygiene, because implants, once placed, require a meticulous hygiene in order to preserve them for many years.
- Patients that are addicted to alcohol or drugs.
- Patients with general diseases, or who are receiving certain treatments that could interfere with the normal healing of tissues after the implantation surgery (for example, uncontrolled diabetes, radiotherapy or chemotherapy to treat cancer, etc.)
- Patients with inadequate bone quantity or quality, which indicates low implant stability. If the patient is healthy, age is not an obstacle to implantation.
In any case, diagnosing a dental implant treatment will include X-ray, modelling, measuring, clinical testing and assessing the patient’s general physical condition, reviewing each case individually.
Restorations with implants are carried out in various stages:
- Study and planning: a medical and odontologic test of each patient’s situation is required. Dental health, lifestyle, bone quality of the jaw bones, and hygiene habits have to be assessed. If the diagnosis suggests an implantation, the treatment will be then planned, and the operation will then take place.
- Surgical placement of the implants into the bone: this procedure can be done in the examination room with local anesthetic. The gingival mucosa is cut open and a hole is drilled in the bone where the implant is placed. The operation lasts 30 to 90 minutes, depending on the number of implants to be placed. Once placed, the gingiva tissue is stitched to completely cover the implant.
- Healing: the body now has to assimilate the implant. This connection to the bone is called osseointegration, and it lasts 3 to 6 months. During this time, implants are below the gum surface, and gradually attach to the bone. Patients have to use temporary prostheses in this phase. Some people suffer from a bit of pain and inflammation, but most of them do not change their daily routine. The patient will attend to regular check-ups until the healing is complete.
- Placement of prosthesis pillar: once the implant is solidly attached to the bone, it is uncovered by doing a small incision in the gum and a small piece is placed on top of it, which will support the artificial tooth.
- Making the prosthesis: a mold is done to make the dental prosthesis that the implant will hold. This tooth has to be securely held in the mouth, to resist the movement and the daily pressure created when chewing and speaking. That is why they have to be well designed. The type of restoration adequate for each case can vary. Restorations include from a crown to restore one single tooth, to fixed or removable complete dentures, as well as bridges that replace several teeth.
Recovery stage warnings
Fist week after the implantation:
- Do not eat or drink hot food until sensitivity is fully recovered in the anesthetized zone.
- Avoid doing any physical activity (body exercise, lifting heavy objects, participating in sport events, etc.).
- Try to speak as less as possible for two days.
- Do not drink coffee or alcohol for the first two days.
- Avoid smoking.
- Do not chew using the zone where the implant is, and avoid eating hard food.
- Rinse your mouth with warm water after each meal. Do not rinse frequently or too intensively.
- Brush your teeth as you regularly do, except for the zone where the implant is.
- Do not use an electric brush or oral irrigators.
After removing the stitches and for six weeks:
- Do not touch the implant with your fingers. Do not use your tongue to play with it.
- Brush your teeth and rinse with warm water.
- Do not use an electric brush or oral irrigators.
- Avoid as much as possible doing any physical activity for six weeks. This is especially important if you notice pulsing in the implant.
If you have a prosthesis, remove it, clean it and rinse your mouth after each meal.
- Have a monthly check-up with your doctor.
Immediately check with your doctor if:
- You notice a change in the zone where the implant is.
- You have problems with the prosthesis.
- The prosthesis or the rebasing make contact with the implant.