What is a “dental implant”?
A dental implant is a root replacement fixture or device made up of pure titanium or alloys of titanium that is inserted surgically and is able to biologically integrate with the jaw bone and act as a fixture on which an artificial tooth crown can be made. It can take 3-6 months for the biological integration of the implant and the jaw bone. A temporary healing cap may be placed and the gums closed around it during the healing time or the gum may fully cover the implant during this time and a small second surgery may be necessary to insert the healing cap. After the biological integration, a crown is then made to be secured to this implant.
Is there a difference between an implant and my own tooth?
An implant is the closest we have gotten in dentistry to prosthetically replace the human tooth. It has advantages and disadvantages compared to your own tooth. It has no nerves and vessels inside, hence, it cannot feel pain or become sensitive like our natural teeth. It does not have fiber attachments to the bone so it is more difficult for bacteria to infiltrate and cause a gum infection around it, although this is still possible – good oral hygiene is a must for longevity of dental implants. They do not have pressure sensors like our natural teeth and they are almost always narrower than roots of natural teeth.
How is the procedure done?
Dental implant placement is usually done to replace one or more missing or unrestorable tooth or teeth. Sometimes, it may be necessary to obtain a 3D radiograph so we can assess the amount of bone available to select a suitable size and width of implant. It may be done as follows:
- Immediate implant placement: done at the time of extraction with some bone grafting around it. (takes 3-6 months till you have a functional tooth)
- Delayed implant placement: extraction of the unrestorable tooth and bone grafting then waiting 3-6 months then implant placement. (takes 6-10 months till you have a functional tooth)
What to expect during and after the implant surgery?
Most implant surgeries are simple surgeries and if you can handle an extraction then you will be fine. However, it is always recommended to consider your relaxation options before any surgery. During the procedure, you should not feel any pain as the whole area would be numb. You will continue to feel some pressure as the implant is being placed. Discomfort after the surgery is the worst in the first 24 hours but easily manageable with pain medication. Swelling, if any, will be maximum 2-3 days after the surgery. Teeth around the site can become sensitive and should resolve on their own after 2-3 weeks. Excessive smoking, alcohol consumption and sugar consumption may affect or limit the success of any surgery and should be avoided. Unlike popular belief, dental implant surgery can be carried out completely painless in about an hour just like a filling is done under local anesthesia. However, we also provide various sedation services for those worried about the procedure. With flexible payment plans and relaxation options, we have just removed the biggest barriers to you not getting the teeth replacement you need.
What are the associated risks and complications?
As with any other surgery, you can expect some bleeding, discomfort, swelling, bruising, etc.
Infection is highly unlikely if the prescribed medication has been taken appropriately.
Implant failure is seen generally in less than 2% of the patients where the device fails to biologically attach to the jaw bone.
The implant crown is subject to normal wear and tear and may need to be replaced from time to time just like your natural teeth.
A dental implant should function for many years if regular tooth and implant maintenance regimes are followed. We highly recommend returning to our office on a regular basis so we can take radiographs and ensure the implant is still fully integrated to the jaw bone. As an implant has no pain sensations, any problems with it can only be detected on radiographs and at regular exams.