Do you have one or more missing teeth? Then it’s time to get them replaced.
There are many ways to do this, dental implant surgery being one. Here, the roots of teeth are replaced with metal, screwed-in posts. It’s an alternative to bridges, partials or complete dentures. The implants are artificial structures, made with titanium metal, that replace and look like real teeth.
Dental implants are inserted into your jawbone using screw-like devices called abutments. In this type of surgery, the crown is custom fit to match your natural tooth colour, feel and function.
Advantages of Dental Implants
With a success rate of above 97%, dental implants are more advantageous than dentures or removable artificial teeth. Reasons include:
- Dental implants are more natural and comfortable.
- They help improve chewing.
- They lower the risk of cavities in nearby teeth.
- Bones around the site of the lost tooth are well-maintained with implants.
- Sensitivity is decreased for the teeth around the deceased one.
- Dental implants don’t have to be taken out and cleaned every day.
Dental implants are not suitable for everyone, though, as the implanting devices need to bond with the jawbone. Hence, bone health should be optimum for implant surgery to be successful.
Types of Dental Implants and Different Techniques
To resemble each individual’s natural teeth, dental implants come in various sizes, heights and types. The technique used differs for each person. How dental implant surgery is conducted depends on a lot of different factors, such as the type of implant and condition of the patient’s jawbone. To understand which is your best option, consult a dental expert.
The following are the different types of dental implants your cosmetic dentist may suggest, based on your condition:
- Endosteal: Shaped like tiny screws, this most common form of implant is placed inside the jawbone and is usually made with titanium.
- Subperiosteal: These implants are placed inside the gum but not drilled into the jawbone. This method is suggested for patients without a healthy jawbone structure. Also, patients who don’t want to undergo surgery will find this method more suitable.
- Zygomatic implant: In this, the most complex procedure and so the least common, the implant is placed in the cheekbone rather than the jawbone. This method is only recommended in extreme scenarios where the jawbone isn’t sturdy enough for the endosteal method.
As you can see, your jawbone’s structure and health play a vital role in successful dental implant surgery. In cases where the jawbone isn’t suitable for a procedure, techniques to rebuild the bone structure are implemented first.
The following are alternative procedures your doctor may suggest in case your jawbone isn’t strong enough for dental implant surgery.
- Bone augmentation: This process involves restoring and regenerating your jaw’s bone structure so it’s suitable enough to support implants. Bone additives and growth factors are used to fortify it and show positive results in most cases.
- Sinus lift: Also called sinus elevation, this procedure entails bones below the sinus being added to the natural bone if this area is deteriorated. Such decay and deterioration can happen when the upper back teeth are missing.
- Ridge expansion: For many patients, their jaw structure isn’t naturally wide enough to support dental implants. In these cases, a bone graft material is added to the small ridge and more space is created along the top of the jaw.
A Word of Caution
Though dental implants are common and many people find them effective and life-altering, there are risks and potential complications. Remember, not everyone is eligible for dental implant surgery. Be sure to disclose your medical history to your dentist, including any current health issues, and take their advice to avoid complications.
Conditions you should disclose include:
- Acute illness.
- Uncontrollable metabolic disease and complications.
- A tendency towards bone or soft tissue infection
Only when the above scenarios are resolved is the operation possible. In the following cases, however, your dentist is likely to advise against treatment:
- Heavy smoking habits
- Parafunctional habits like teeth grinding and clenching
- Psychiatric disorders
There is an increased risk of complications after the implant surgery if:
- The patient is taking bisphosphonate medication for bone loss.
- They’re undergoing chemotherapy or recently completed it.
- They’ve recently undergone radiation therapy of the head and neck.
The following are signs and symptoms of complication and a possibly unsuccessful implant:
- Nerve damage resulting in altered sensation in the operated area
- An opening of the incision post-surgery
- Pain if the implant is mobile and being tapped
- Infection and pain around the implant
Dental implants help provide solid support to new teeth. Since they involve the bone around the implant healing tightly, it can take many months for the process to be complete. Understanding the various types of implant surgery and its potential advantages and risks can help you make a more informed decision about your dental health.