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When And Why Do You Need A Dental Implant?

5 min read

If you lose a tooth or multiple teeth due to trauma, infection or break it for some reason the dentist might recommend you get an implant. An implant is currently the gold standard for tooth replacement. It is the closest in terms of shape structural integrity and function to a natural tooth. More so, it replicates the same forces as a tooth on the bone and surrounding tissue.

What is a dental implant?

An implant is a prosthesis made up of a biocompatible material, usually titanium that serves as a restoration or tooth or as an anchorage for other restorative devices. Typically consists of two parts, the abutment, and the crown. The abutment sits inside the bone, replaces the tooth structure and provides stability to the prosthesis. Serves like `nail hammered into wall` anchorage. The crown serves as the functional and aesthetic replacement inside the mouth and is usually a replica of the clinical crown of the tooth.

Types of dental implants

A large variety of implants and implant systems are available to your dentist. They are mainly classified on the basis of the material they are made up of, the thickness and type of attachment it offers to the bone. Titanium implants are the most common. The choice of implant greatly varies with the kind of bone structure available, the tooth it is replacing and the function that implant will serve, be it underneath an over-denture or a single tooth replacement. The right choice can greatly determine the overall success of the implant and the overall replacement. 

How does surgery work?

The surgical procedure varies by the type of implant and the procedure which can be a one-step or two-step. A flap is raised to expose the bone and drill a placement canal for the abutment. The implant may be screwed in or pressed into the canal depending on the type of implant. In a two-step procedure, the flap is closed and the bone underneath is allowed to heal. This process takes one and a half up to two months depending on the bone quality and location of the implant. Then a hole is punched into the gums to access the burred implant and crown or suitable restoration is attached. In one step procedures, the same is done but immediately following the placement of the abutment inside the bone. The healing then takes place together. 

What to expect after the surgery?

Most patients immediately adjust to the implant after the initial wound is healed. Some may experience some discomfort due to differences in chewing or speech but this is most likely temporary and should go away over time. If it persists, you can contact your dentist and they will fix it. 

How to take care of a dental implant?

Most implant failures happen due to poor oral hygiene and para-functional habits. It is very important to maintain a regular brushing habit and get your teeth professionally cleaned every six months to ensure their longevity.

Why choose a dental implant over other fixed dental restorations?

While there are plenty of alternative options available for tooth replacement, dental implants are considered the gold standard to date. This is because dental implants function similar to your natural teeth. Moreover, implants use the available bone for support, instead of compromising the structure of adjacent teeth.  

Dental implants vs bridges:

Implants provide a good alternative to tooth-supported fixed bridges that attach an artificial tooth or multiple teeth to healthy teeth permanently. Bridges often require compromising of the healthy tooth structure. Additionally, implants preserve underlying bone structure much better long term, while bridges a common clinical issue is resorption of supportive bone underneath the missing tooth. Since implants are not supported by adjacent healthy teeth, they do not strain on healthy tooth structures like bridges. Overall, they require less maintenance and give better aesthetics. 

Partial dentures vs dental implants:

Implants provide better comfort and hygiene than conventional partial dentures, that provide a removable replacement supported by the gums and other structures in the mouth. 

Conventional complete dentures vs Dental implant-supported complete dentures:

Implant-supported complete dentures provide better stability and support for chewing and conversations and can be better modified according to the available support of the bone. The indirect contact to the gum saves a lot of soreness, often a complaint with conventional dentures that adapt directly to the mucosa covering the bone. Oral hygiene is easier, providing sufficient space between the denture’s surface and mucosa to allow saliva to cleanse, brushing easier. Implants replicate the same bone preservation signals to the as tooth roots do keeping the bone support in the mouth intact over the years. 

What are the benefits of getting a dental implant

With so many medical and aesthetic benefits, implants have over other forms of tooth restoration, more patients are choosing this over other forms of tooth replacement. 

Longevity:

While all other restorations have a lifetime of a few years, implants are virtually for life. Depending on the system and manufacturer, it can last up to 25 years. Even if the outer crown needs replacement, the abutment may remain intact for long.  

Jaw bone:

Medically, missing teeth result in bone resorption in their place. The abutment favors retention of the bone structure surrounding it, the metal portion of the implant, the abutment favors bone deposition and attachment over the life of the implant.

Aesthetics:

The resemblance to the natural tooth is best achieved by implants. From the scalloped gum line at the gum and tooth junction to the transitioning opacity of dentine to the translucency of enamel at the tip, these finer detailing are easier to reproduce in an implant, as oppose to other restorations. 

Is a dental implant the best replacement for me?

Implants are the best option for most patients who are missing a tooth or a number of teeth due to decay, disease, trauma or medical conditions. It is also a good option for denture wearers who find conventional dentures uncomfortable, ill-fitting or does not want to lose valuable tooth structure in case of a dental bridge. The process is surgical and so requires the patient to be in good general health and maintain it post-surgery to allow good healing. Their gums need to be in good health and clear of any diseases that might interfere with the healing later on. Para-functional habits, such as smoking are also strongly discouraged during this time since they interfere with the body’s natural process of healing. 

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