Technology and science have progressed immensely over time in various fields. Per-Ingvar Brånemark, a Swedish orthopedic surgeon in 1952 had invented dental implants as we know them today. It acts as a replacement for the root of a missing tooth and is a surgical fixture that is placed into a person’s jawbone and over the next few months, is allowed to fuse with the bone. It does not affect the nearby teeth and is the closest thing to a natural tooth.
WHY IS THERE A NEED OF IT?
The goal of teeth replacement is to restore function and originality. It can be used to replace a single, various, or a complete set of teeth. In general, there are three types of tooth replacement: –
- A partial or complete denture
- Dental bridge
- Dental implant
Dentures are the most affordable option but they are not generally preferred as they are extremely uncomfortable and can also affect one’s taste and sensory experience. Dental bridgework is a restorative option that was used before the third option. Choosing what type will be the best depends on various factors especially in the case of dental implants.
- Location of the missing tooth or teeth
- Quantity and quality of the jawbone
- Patient’s health
- Patient’s preference
BEFORE, DURING, AND AFTER
A dental surgeon visually examines the patient’s mouth specifically focusing on the part which requires the implant. The doctor makes use of X-rays or CT scans to assess the part and to see the quantity and quality of the jawbone. Once this is established and the cause and the location of the implant are decided, the patient can come back for the surgical process. The patient is usually given an anesthetic or other sedatives required to comfort the patient.
Tooth or teeth extraction is usually the first step of the procedure. A synthetic bone is placed for a solid base for the implant and it is given a period of 2 to 6 months to heal, this is to replace an existing damaged tooth. A different bone graft is placed on the existing jawbone if there is no tooth already existing. This process is more involved and requires a longer time to heal. In case, more bone is required for the implant, various appropriate procedures like sinus lift are used.
Once the strong bone is present, the site is ready. The dental implant, which is made of titanium, is placed into the bone with specialized drills and tools, and a healing cap is placed above the implant. A temporary denture can also be placed to replace missing teeth during the healing process. The implant becomes integrated with the bone during this healing process and it is important to not put stress on the affected areas.
Once the procedure is completed, follow-up checks are required and the doctor checks if the implant has been successful in taking up the surrounding bone and then a prosthetic component via a screw. It serves as a hold for the replaced tooth. The doctor then takes a mold of this and makes a custom-fit crown that is either cemented on or secured with a screw.
IS IT PAINFUL?
Normally a person does not feel pain during the process as an anesthetic or other numbing sedatives are used but once it wears off, the patient can feel discomfort similar to tooth extraction. To help reduce swelling, an ice pack is replaced on the skin. To control pain and provide relief, common painkillers can be taken and in some cases, the doctors even prescribe antibiotics and oral rinses to support the healing of the implant.
After a patient goes through dental implant surgery, he is more prone to developing conditions like “peri-implantitis” which is similar to gum disease for natural teeth. It includes inflammation of the gum and bone surrounding the implanted area that is often due to biting forces or bacterial infection. Routine maintenance care is necessary after an implant and regular follow-up with the doctor is also an important part. The patient should follow good oral hygiene.
Dental implant surgery has improved enormously in the last few decades and at present, its success has reached close to 98%. To avoid such implants, one should make sure that good oral hygiene is being followed and maintained. Regular visits to a dentist are also required to maintain hygiene and avoid dental problems in the future.