Dental implants or tooth implants are artificial tooth roots that are surgically placed into the jawbone. A dental crown covers implants to provide a natural-looking tooth.
Dental implants offer a long-term alternative for temporary solutions such as bridges or dentures and will probably last for 25 years — possibly longer with proper care. They can stay firmly in their place while you eat, smile, and talk without fear of losing them.
How Does Dental Implant Surgery Work?
Dental implants usually consist of three parts and are made of either zirconia or titanium, which are biocompatible, lightweight, and unbreakable.
- The implant; which is made of pure titanium or titanium alloy and screwed into the jawbone to resemble a tooth root.
- The abutment; which is placed over the implant and under the crown and acts as a connector.
- The crown; which is a custom-made tooth and is placed over the implant device to provide a natural-looking appearance.
Your surgeon screws the abutment into the implant, stitches the tissue, and lets it to get heal and stabilize. Then, the crown is fitted after about three months to provide a natural look for the implant.
For those who travel overseas to get a dental implant abroad, it is possible to simultaneously fit the implant and the abutment. So, what is usually a three-step treatment can be achieved in two appointments.
What Does a Dental Implant Surgery Involve?
The common steps of the dental implant procedure are as follows.
- Treatment Planning: X-rays of the mouth are taken to examine the health of the teeth and determine if any additional treatments are required.
- Bone Grafting: If there is not enough natural bone in the area of the planned implant, the surgeon will add either natural or synthetic bone material.
- Implantation: A special drill is used to create the space for the tooth implant. Then, the implant is placed into the jawbone, and the gums are closed.
- Healing: Osseointegration, the process in which the implant becomes part of the jaw, takes about 4-6 months. This is usually referred to as the healing period.
- Final Restoration: Once the gum tissue is fully healed, the abutment is attached to the implant. Impressions are taken to create a crown, and whenever the custom-made crown is ready, the dentist will place it over the abutment.
- Aftercare: Some minor bruises and swelling in the gum may occur after dental implant surgery. A good brushing technique and regular (preferably every 6-12 months) check-ups with your dentist are essential for maintaining the health and stability of your dental implant.
Restoring Multiple Teeth
It is common to have either just one or multiple dental implants fitted. People looking to restore multiple damaged teeth have two treatment options: all-on-4 and all-on-6 dental implants.
Your dentist might recommend these methods if you have significant tooth decay or loss or have a low bone density in your jaw area that restricts you from getting individual dental implants.
All-On-4 Dental Implants
The all-on-4 implant technique involves a full-arch restoration where four implants support all the teeth. It consists of placing the four implants (which will support 10-14 custom-made crowns), either in the maxilla, the mandible, or both.
All-On-6 Dental Implants
The all-on-6 implant technique involves placing six dental implants in the upper or lower jawbone to support 10-14 custom-made crowns. This technique is a viable option For patients with a more significant number of missing teeth.
Ideal applicants for Dental Implant Surgery may include:
- People who need either a single tooth or several teeth replaced.
- People who need to replace a denture with a bridge supported on several implants.
- Those with adequate bone density and volume in the jaw (otherwise, bone grafting might be more suitable).
The process of placing a dental implant usually takes around one to two hours. Then, it takes approximately six months for your gums to heal.
The preparation of tailor-made crowns can take up to a week. Once it is ready, it takes around 1-2 hours to place these.
Undergoing a dental implant procedure usually does not result in a difficult recovery period, and most patients return to work the day after the surgery. However, after the first part of the treatment (the fitting of the implants), you may experience:
- Some minor pain around the implant site
- Some insignificant bruising and swelling of your face
- Trivial bleeding of the gums
These minor problems should begin to reduce after a week, and the healing time after an implant session typically takes four to six months.
Potential Risks and Side Effects:
Dental implant surgery may have fewer risks compared with other surgeries. Side effects are rare, and in case of occurrence, they are usually minor and easily treated. Risks include:
- The low incidence of implant failure
- Infection at the implant site
- Injury or damage to surrounding structures, such as other teeth or blood vessels
- Nerve damage while placing the implant, which will cause pain or numbness, or tingling in your natural teeth, gums, lips, or chin
- Sinus problems, when dental implants placed in the upper jaw protrude into one of your sinus cavities