By: Shelagh McNally for Dental1.org
Dental implants are an exciting solution to the problem of missing teeth. Traditional dentures and fixed bridges shift, fall out and reduce our ability to chew. Dental implants eliminate these problems by acting as artificial roots providing a stable foundation for replacement teeth.
|How to care for your dental implants:|
Brush after every meal
Use a small toothbrush, or a special inter-dental brush, to clean the abutments
Use a toothbrush with a bent handle in order to reach behind the teeth to clean the abutments
Use gauze or special floss with a foam coating to gently clean around gums, abutments, and prosthetic teeth
Visit your dentist regularly, and have your implants checked at least twice a year
The procedure involves placing an artificial post shaped like the original root into the jaw to be an anchor for new teeth. Because of its compatibility with the human body, strength and resistant to corrosion, titanium is the preferred material. The surface of the titanium posts are treated to create small etching so when they are placed into the jaw, the bone grows into the rough surface fusing to the titanium to create a permanent root. There used to be a three to nine month wait while the jaw healed before new teeth could be placed into the mouth. However, recent improvements in the titanium posts have reduced the healing process to six weeks even allowing specialists to do “immediate load implants” a procedure where a temporary tooth is set immediately onto the post. This actually helps the healing process by keeping the post stable. The patient is also able to see immediate results.
While these provisional teeth look excellent they are not made to last. The next step is for the specialist to take an impression of the tissue in order to create a replacement tooth that looks like the other natural teeth. For permanent implants the new tooth is cemented onto a custom abutment screwed onto the implant. For removable implants, clips are attached to the posts and then used to keep the teeth in place.
Since there is no shifting in the mouth, both permanent and removable implants provide an improvement in comfort and security. Normal biting pressure is 540 pounds per square inch. For denture-wearers it’s 50 pounds per inch. Dental implants operate at 450 pounds per square inch so chewing is no longer a challenge.
Single tooth implants are ideal because they eliminate the need to grind down nearby healthy teeth in order to get a properly-fitted bridge. Multiple teeth implants are a more complicated procedure but equally successful and eliminate the need for crowns or dentures. Usually two to four implants are used in the lower jaw and four to six in the upper jaw for multiple implants but more may be needed depending on the number of teeth being replaced.
Almost anyone can receive dental implants including those with bone loss. The procedure is relatively pain-free since the jaw doesn’t have any nerve endings. Patients receive a local anesthetic and afterwards take mild pain medication such as acetaminophen or motrin. Some people may experience swelling and in very rare instances the body may reject the posts. The most common problems are usually associated with screws or clips loosening. That’s why it’s crucial to find a qualified oral surgeon or periodontist whose has experience with dental implants.
Care and maintenance of dental implants is the same as regular dental hygiene. Like ordinary teeth, implants will get plaque build-up so you should visit your dentist every three to six months for cleaning.
Talk to your dentist for more information.