The solution of dental implants as a way to fill the gaps left behind from missing teeth has largely become regarded as the “gold standard” in tooth replacement. Unlike dentures or dental bridges (which do have their place) dental implants are permanently fixed, and extremely durable. They essentially minimize or eliminate many of the common difficulties or annoyances associated with dentures and bridges—like chewing and speech clarity, to name a couple. Implants have essentially revolutionized the world of dental treatment options, giving people a significantly superior and long-term solution for missing teeth.
Discerning whether or not you are a good candidate for dental implants first necessitates a thorough evaluation by your dentist. The surgery is an involved process, completed in stages over time–sometimes months. Your dentist knows that that a positive and satisfactory outcome largely rests on both of you being well-informed; you need to know what to expect, and your dentist needs to be properly prepared, as well. Here’s a brief overview of some important steps moving forward:
- Your oral, as well as overall health, as well as any medical conditions need to be discussed as you prepare for the process. Medication, prescription or not, that you’re taking, should be communicated. Depending on if there are any medical conditions, particularly to do with the heart, the dentist may prescribe antibiotics.
- Dental x-rays and models of your mouth will probably be taken to ensure a complete “picture” of where the surgery will take place, as well as the health of the mouth and jawbone.
- No two surgical plans are exactly alike; talk through a treatment plan with your dentist. What exactly will be involved? The number of teeth being replaced (including the removal of the damaged teeth) as well as the condition of the jawbone affect the process.
- Discuss plans for anesthesia, and what option is best for you. This affects what you may eat or drink the day of the surgery, and if you’ll be driving yourself to and from the procedure.
- Many people first require bone grafting; the jawbone needs to be both thick and hard enough to create a strong base and support the implant. This is done by taking a piece of bone from another part of the jaw, or elsewhere, and transplanting it. This may need to be done months in advance to ensure proper healing and growth, or may simply be a minor graft that can occur at the same time as the implant surgery.
- By the way, smoking is a big no-no! Any dentist would agree this only compromises the effectiveness or success of the procedure, never mind your overall health!
- After preparing the jaw, including any grafting, a metal post is placed in the jawbone; healing time here can vary, depending on the number of implants.
- Finally, the abutment and crown is placed on the post.
In the end, dental implant surgery is relatively benign and straightforward, rarely to never leading to any complications or issues. And the outcome is worth it—the next best thing to your own original teeth!