Tooth loss by way of gingivitis, tooth decay or injury has become a worldwide dental problem. Poor oral hygiene and unhealthy dietary habits have accelerated the incidence of this issue for many people everywhere. Tooth loss not only causes functional difficulties but is also of cosmetic significance to the affected individual, often leading to lower self-esteem.
However, the advent of dental implants has revolutionized the treatment options available for tooth loss in the modern day and age.
What are Dental Implants?
Dental implants comprise of a metallic frame and posts or roots (usually titanium) that are compatible to the human body for the placement of a replacement tooth. They are surgically implanted into the jaw bone below the gum line, and help lay down a strong foundation for fixed or removable replacement teeth that are made to resemble your natural teeth.
The Dental Implant procedure is conducted in five phases:
- Phase 1 – A trained dental surgeon devises a treatment plan specific to you.
- Phase 2 – The dental implants are placed surgically under local anesthesia. Those who have undergone the procedure remark that the pain is less than that of a tooth being pulled out.
- Phase 3 – This is the phase of healing and osseointegration, where the bone heals. The bone tissue that forms integrates with the implant so it’s securely fitted. This phase takes 3 months.
- Phase 4 – Once the bone has healed and bonded to the frame, a metallic round post or “gingival former” is placed for 15 days, which helps to form the gap in the gums to place the next post and teeth.
- Phase 5 – A connector post or “abutment” is attached for the replacement tooth.
- Phase 6 – This phase involves the reconstruction of the replacement tooth from the model of your bite made by taking impressions of your teeth. These help the dentist know the structure and arrangement of teeth specific to you. This process can take time and the dentist may give you a temporary crown, bridge or denture to carry out routine functions like talking or eating.
Once your replacement tooth is ready in all aspects including the color, it is placed onto the implanted post. In case of more than one implant, a single attachment can be placed to support dentures, instead of separate individual crowns.
Advantages of Dental Implants
- They look and feel like your own teeth
- Clear speech without the worry of slipping teeth or ill-fitting dentures
- Hassle-free eating, without the difficulty in chewing caused by sliding dentures
- Comfortable, pain-free and durable option (with proper care, implants can last for a lifetime)
- Convenient, without the hassle of removing dentures or using messy adhesives
- Easy to maintain oral hygiene in case of individual crowns
- As opposed to tooth-supported bridges, no reshaping of surrounding teeth required
- More of your own teeth are preserved, proving beneficial for long term oral health
- They look natural, and help raise your self-esteem
Who Can Get Dental Implants?
Anyone fit for dental extraction or oral surgery can get implants, if they have healthy gums and enough bone width and height for implantation. Maintaining good oral hygiene is a prerequisite, and diabetics, heart patients, chronic smokers or those with chronic diseases need to be individually assessed.