A dental implant is a screw-like object, made of bone-compatible titanium or ceramics, which is surgically inserted into the jaw bone. After it is firmly integrated with the bone, it will take over the function of the natural tooth root.
To answer the most frequently asked question first: painlessly. The treatment itself is performed with local anaesthesia; this is usually all that is required. The procedure is comparable to the extraction of a tooth; the wound will heal within a few days.
The closed membrane formed by the oral mucous will be opened. The implant clinician will use a special drill to create a socket in the bone that perfectly fits the implant. Once the location has been properly prepared, the implant is inserted and covered by the oral mucous. It generally takes between three and six months for the implant to firmly integrate into the human bone. During this time, a temporary bridge or denture will allow the patient to chew and to speak.
Once the implant has been successfully integrated, the oral mucous is re-opened (again, with local anaesthesia) directly above the implant, a post (called an abutment) is placed on top of the implant. This acts as an artificial tooth root applied via cementing or screwing. The dental crown will then be placed on top of the abutment.
There are many reports in the media which talk about immediate loading; a method where a dental implant is to be seated firmly within a few hours. However, caution is still advised at this point. These methods are used by experienced dentists and are not considered for every patient.
Implants can help preserve your oral health
Oftentimes an implant-supported solution is the best option, for instance when a single tooth has been extracted or lost. In this case, the lost tooth is replaced 1 : 1. No neighbouring teeth need to be included to facilitate a small bridge solution.
Implants are the best solution if the molar teeth in the dental arch are missing, where there is no tooth available to support the far end of a bridge. If no implant is placed to help support the bridge, the free-floating end of the bridge (cantilevered pontics) will rock when exposed to the chewing forces. Over time, the pressure on the supporting tissues will result in wear and tear of the jawbone joint (temporomandibular joint).
Complete tooth loss is usually a function of the patient’s age. It will often be accompanied by the loss of available bone substance, which may be insufficient to support implants, so the treatment time is considerably lengthened.
A safe foundation is essential for any implant. If no safe foundation is available, an implant cannot be inserted, the bone has to be built up first. There are several ways of doing this, depending on what is feasible for each patient.
Sometimes it is possible to remove a piece of the patient’s own bone at a suitable location and to transplant it to where more jawbone substance is needed. This type of bone, the patient’s own bone, will fuse with the existing jawbone to form a stable structure over time.
Alternately, it is possible to use bone replacement material which triggers a biological process, resulting in creating a stabler bone substance. In the upper jaw, an additional layer of bone can be created by lifting the sinus floor above the implant site and lining it with bone replacement material.
Before going to your consultation appointment, try to learn as much as you can so you know what will be discussed there. Then you will be able to tell the implantologist what you will like to know. The information offered here should already cover a lot of ground in this respect.
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