What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are artificial tooth roots surgically placed into the jawbone to support a replacement tooth or bridge. Implants are surgically installed and, over time, fuse with your jawbone to give you a stable foundation for the replacement teeth.
Many people choose tooth implants instead of dentures or bridges because they are permanent and look more natural. Implants are great for replacing one or more teeth.
For many, implants are the answer to improving oral health and allowing them to speak and chew normally. Dental implant recipients say they feel more confident and have learned to love their smiles again.
Many people are eager to move forward with the process once they see before and after photos of dental implants, but it’s important to understand the placement process and know the risks before you commit to this solution.
Dental Implant Process
Dental implants mimic natural tooth roots, so replacement teeth are sturdy and reliable. Installation of dental implants includes several stages.
Dental implant surgery begins with a consultation to determine whether you’re a good candidate for a dental implant procedure. The consultation includes an exam to assess your oral health and explain the implantation process.
In the next phase of dental implant surgery, the implant is surgically placed in the jawbone. Over several months, the implant fuses with your bone.
Once it’s healed, the surgeon places something called an abutment. This is a connector for the replacement teeth that will eventually be installed.
Finally, you receive a customized dental crown that replaces your old teeth. The dental crown is installed on top of the abutment, which completes the process.
Healing and Recovery
Once the implant replacement is complete, you must let the area heal for a few weeks.
Most people experience some discomfort and swelling of the gum tissue. In most cases, this can be managed with pain medication and ice packs.
Remember to follow your oral surgeon or dentist’s instructions for oral hygiene. You’ll need to gently brush your new teeth twice a day and avoid certain foods that might disrupt the healing process.
Make sure to schedule regular follow-up appointments with your dentist to check on your healing progress and ensure the long-term success of your dental implant.
Benefits of Dental Implants
Dental implants offer a variety of benefits, including:
Improved Appearance and Confidence
One of the most popular reasons people opt for dental implants over other tooth replacement options is appearance. Improving the appearance of your smile is a great way to boost your confidence.
Implants look and feel natural. They are the best option for those who want a permanent solution to missing teeth. There’s no need to worry about teeth slipping out of place with implants.
You don’t need to remove your teeth to clean them, nor do you need to worry about your smile looking unnatural.
Restored Ability to Eat and Speak
Because dental implants are permanent and do not move around, they allow you to eat and speak as you would with healthy, natural teeth.
Implants are installed into a stable foundation that has fused with your jawbone. They are the closest replacement option to natural teeth.
Worrying about implants slipping or shifting when you speak or eat is unnecessary. You’ll be able to bite and chew with the same force you would with your original teeth.
There’s also no need to worry about developing speech impediments with dental implants. Many people have trouble speaking if they have loose or missing teeth.
This doesn’t always improve when you use dentures. With implants, you’ll be able to speak as you normally would, and the replacement teeth look and function like a natural set of teeth.
Permanent and Reliable
Dental implants are the only permanent option for people who want to replace a missing tooth or damaged teeth. Unlike dentures and bridges, implants are designed to last a lifetime with proper care.
Some people are reluctant to undergo the implant procedure because it’s a lengthy surgical process. However, once completed, there’s little to worry about.
You can treat your new teeth just as natural teeth and don’t need to worry about frequent replacements or repairs.
Maintenance and Care of Dental Implants
There are several things you should do to care for your dental implants, including:
Follow a Good Oral Hygiene Routine
The best way to care for dental implants is the same way you’d care for natural teeth. Like natural teeth, implants must be cleaned regularly to prevent plaque buildup and to maintain gum health. Most dentists recommend brushing implants twice a day with a soft bristle brush.
Use Antibacterial Mouthwash
An antibacterial mouthwash kills the bacteria that can accumulate in your mouth. This reduces your risk of gum disease and prevents infection, ensuring your dental implants last a lifetime.
Just as you would natural teeth, it’s essential to floss every day when you have dental implants. This helps remove food particles and eliminate any plaque that brushing alone missed.
There are special types of floss you should use when you have implants. Your dentist can help you find the right option for you.
Avoid Sticky Foods
Most dentists will recommend staying away from sticky foods, whether you have implants or natural teeth. These foods just aren’t great for teeth.
However, it’s of greater importance for people with implants to avoid these foods since they can damage the device and cause you to require repair.
Just like avoiding sticky foods, dentists will recommend you quit smoking whether you have implants or not. However, it’s especially important for those with implants because smoking increases the risk of implant failure.
This is because smoking slows the healing process by reducing blood flow to the area that needs healing. Giving up smoking is one of the best things you can do to improve the chances of your implant lasting a lifetime.
Regular Dental Check-ups
Just as you would with your natural teeth, it’s important to schedule regular dental check-ups with your dentist to monitor the health of your dental implants.
Your dentist will assess the condition of your implants, clean them, and identify any potential problems at their onset so they are easier – and less expensive – to fix.
Protect Your Implants
Your dentist will encourage you to do all you can to protect your implants. In addition to brushing and flossing, this also means wearing a guard if you participate in contact sports or grind your teeth.
Be Mindful of Dental Implant Warning Signs
There are rare occasions in which problems with dental implants develop. The earlier you notice them, the better. This is one of the reasons why regular dental check-ups are essential after you get implants.
Contact your dentist immediately if you notice any swelling, redness, or bleeding in the implant area.
Remember, dental implants are an excellent option for missing and damaged teeth, but just because implants are sturdy doesn’t mean you can ignore them.