Dental implants were first introduced in 1952. It was invented by Per Ingvar Brånemark, a Swedish orthopedic surgeon. Nowadays, dental implants are the preferred standard of care for missing teeth. Dental implants function as replacement for missing tooth roots. The surgical fixtures are placed into the jawbone.
Simply put, dental implants are artificial tooth roots that’s designed to hold the replacement bridge or tooth in place. Fusing the dental implant with the jawbone is the closest thing to mimicking how the natural tooth is designed—it can stand on its own, it is stable, and won’t affect the nearby teeth.
Dental Implants: The Ideal Candidates
Since they are designed to fuse with the jawbone, dental implants won’t slip, cause bone damage, or make any noise. You are considered a good candidate for the dental implant procedure if:
- You are missing one (or more) teeth
- You have a fully developed jawbone
- You have enough bone left to secure the dental implants in place
- Your oral tissues are healthy
- You are not suffering from any health conditions that can affect bone healing
- You don’t like wearing dentures
- You are willing to commit several months to the process
- You are not a heavy smoker
Preparing for Dental Implant Surgery
Typically, various dental specialists are involved in the planning stage. For instance:
- Maxillofacial and oral surgeons: these doctors specialise in conditions of the jaw, face, and mouth.
- Periodontists: these doctors specialise in the treatment of structures that support the teeth like the gums and bones.
- ENT specialists: these doctors are ear, nose, and throat specialists.
- Prosthodontists: these dentists design and fit artificial teeth.
Since the dental implant procedure can involve one (or more) surgical procedures, you will need to undergo a thorough assessment to prepare for the process.
- Comprehensive dental exam: 3D images and dental X-rays might be taken. Models of the teeth and jaw may also be created.
- Review of medical history: You need to inform your dentist about any medications you are taking or any medical conditions you may have. You need to also inform your dentist about any prescriptions, supplements, and over-the-counter medications you are taking. If you have a heart condition or an orthopedic implant, you might be prescribed antibiotics to ward off any infections.
- Creation of treatment plan: The dental implant treatment plan is not one-size-fits-all. It will be tailored based on your unique situation and circumstances. It will also take into consideration several key factors such as the number of teeth that need replacement and the condition of the jawbone and the remaining teeth.
To manage pain, anesthesia options can include local anesthesia, general anesthesia, and sedation. It would be best to discuss with your dental specialist the best option for your case. You will also get instructions on what you can drink and eat depending on the type of anesthesia you will be given.
What to Expect During the Procedure
Dental implant surgery is an outpatient procedure that is done in stages, with healing time in between. Some of the steps involved can include:
- Removal of the damaged tooth
- Preparation of the jawbone (when required in your case)
- Dental implant placement
- Bone healing and growth
- Abutment placement
- Artificial tooth placement
The entire dental implant process might take months from start to finish. Majority of the time is devoted to the healing process and for the implant to fuse with the jawbone successfully.
Pain medications and antibiotics may also be prescribed after the procedure. If you experience severe swelling, discomfort, or soreness that lingers, check with your dentist right away.