Implants are recommended for anyone with missing teeth. However, the success of the implant is impacted by individual health and habits. For example, uncontrolled diabetes, cancer, radiation to the jaws, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, or uncontrolled gum disease may affect whether dental implants fuse to your bone. Therefore, provide as much information as possible to your dental professional, including prescription medications, herbal alternatives and over-the-counter products.
Who Can Have Dental Implants?
Where and How Are Implants Placed?
Placing dental implants requires a surgical procedure in which precision channels are created in the jawbone, often using a surgical guide prepared using 3D CT scan imaging and 3D printer. The implants are then fitted into the sites so that they are in intimate contact with the bone. They generally require two to six months to fuse to the bone before they can have tooth restorations attached to them to complete the process.
Local anesthesia is usually adequate for these out-patient procedures; but various other forms of patient sedation such as anti-anxiety medication, as well as intravenous sedation may also be used depending upon the duration of the procedure and patient preference.
What Happens to Bone When Teeth Are Lost?
Bone needs stimulation to maintain shape and density. In the case of alveolar bone that supports teeth, the necessary stimulation comes from the teeth themselves. When a tooth is lost, the lack of stimulation causes bone loss. The first year as much as 25% of width can be lost with an overall decrease in height the following years. Movement of the adjacent teeth begins, jeopardizing the health and integrity of the entire mouth. The more teeth lost, the more function lost. After support alveolar bone is lost, the jawbone that creates the structure of the face beneath begins to diminish as well.
Can Bone Be Saved and Re-Grown?
Grafting a sterile, synthetic alloplastic into the empty sockets at the time of tooth loss or removal can help preserve the bone and generate re-growth for successful implant placement. The primary benefit of dental implants is preservation of the jawbone and facial structure. Because dental implants fuse to the bone, they stabilize and stimulate the bone, preventing further bone loss. Re-sorption is the inevitable process in which bone is lost when it is no longer supporting or connected to teeth. Only dental implants can stop this process and preserve the bone.
How long does it take for implants to heal?
Healing time for implants vary depending on the quality of the patient’s bone and are may be extended in cases where performing adjunctive procedures is necessary. In general, dental implants require two to four months for the bone to heal before the prosthetic restoration can be finalized.
How do I care for my implants?
Proper care of your implants is important to their continued function and good health. While they are not subject to cavities as our natural teeth are, they can develop gum inflammation, and even infection and bone loss if not properly maintained. Whereas localized inflammation and infection around your teeth is known as periodontal disease, a similar process can occur around implants and is known as peri-implantitis. Suffice it to say, above all else, routine brushing and flossing is necessary. Our hygienist will also show you other tools that can help keep your implants clean and healthy.
Your “new teeth” will require periodic checking to ensure the surrounding gums and bone are maintained and healthy. This may require periodic x-rays to evaluate the level of bone around your implants. The dental restorations attached to your implants will also require periodic checking to verify that they are secure and functioning properly.
It is not uncommon for the screws that attach your restoration to the actual implants or abutments to loosen from time to time. This usually entails simply removing the dental restoration, cleaning it and replacing it with new or re-tightened screws. Similarly, if your dental restoration is cemented to the underlying implant, they may also loosen periodically. If this happens, the restoration is removed, cleaned and re-cemented to the implant.