Dental Implants are used to replace a missing tooth, a couple of teeth or all the teeth. They act the same as a regular tooth by sitting in the jaw bone acting as a root to anchor the new artificial tooth. It is recognised as a minor surgical procedure and can be completed within a few months. It is a Titanium alloy screw which is made up in 3 parts. The Fixture, abutment and the crown.
Why an implant?
Implants are a long term treatment alternative to replace damaged or extracted teeth.
There are some people who find dentures, bridges or partial plates do the job, others might find that these alternatives are very uncomfortable due to sore spots or poor ridges or gaging from the denture plate. Implants don’t require the adjacent teeth to be prepared or ground down to hold your new replacement tooth/teeth in place. Nor do they require any external supporting systems like a plate which makes them so practical because they exist and act like a regular tooth.
There are alternative implants such as implant bridges are not supported by the surrounding teeth but are
supported by two implants held at the ends of the gap and support the artificial teeth in-between.
Implant Dentures which consists of a few implants holding the denture in place. They are also easier to
maintain than regular non-fixed dentures, which are which never slip out or shift around.
Am I eligible?
To be eligible for an implant, you need to have healthy gums and adequate bone to support the implant. So after the damaged tooth has been removed, the socket will heal and after a few weeks the jaw is ready or an implant. It is important to not wait too long as the bone subsides and the teeth shift inwards to help close the gap. In which case there might not be enough bone and the gap between teeth might be too small. You must also commit to keeping these structures healthy. Meticulous oral hygiene and regular dental visits are critical to the long-term success of dental implants.
What happens next?
We begin the implant journey by first having a general exam, to make sure all is well.
If there needs to be a tooth extraction we will plan accordingly to have it removed and give it a few weeks to recover. Will then take a special type of x-ray called a cone beam computed tomography, CT scan. This allows us to view the head in a 3Dimage. This gives us a guideline of the exact bone structure and we are therefore able to make a surgical plan for the implants.
Next we will create the stent for the implant to act as the implant guide. This tool is used to give the exact location of where the implant should be placed and is fitted like a plate over the teeth and gum but with holes in it of the exact location.
Our state of the art technology allows us to do every bit of preparation in our clinic which separates us from other clinics as they have to refer to other clinics to get the CT scan or have the implant done elsewhere and only then do they come back for the crown. From the X-Ray machine, to the CERAC Omnicam, software and grinding unit, to getting the crown we have it all. This means there will never be a wait on supplies and materials or have to refer you anywhere else.
The stent is created in our lab from a machine called the CEREC grinding unit. It is the top of the line machine that allows us to first scan the area using a state of the art camera called a CEREC Omnicam which produces a 3D colour picture and from there a digital design is made via its CEREC software for the stent. The software syncs with the CERAC Grinding and milling unit which begins to shape the precise stent in just about half an hour.
The implant prep is now complete and we can move to the surgical procedure.
There are 3 main surgical steps
After the tooth has been removed and the gums have healed, the gums will be opened to reveal the jaw bone. This is done under local anaesthesia. A hole is made into the bone to fit the Fixture screw which is then placed into the newly made socket. The gum is stitched back together over the implant and left for about 3-4 months to allow the bone to fuse with the fixture and the gums will heal over the. The bone and titanium metal bonding is a process known as Osseo integration.
After the gums have had time to heal and the Osseointegration has been well under process, it is time to re-open the gum flap. This is also done under local anaesthesia. The abutment is attached to the top of the fixture and will act like a link between the top of the Fixture and the crown holding them together.
The Artificial tooth is basically crown with a pin which fits into the abutment. It is made from porcelain that is very hard and durable, it is then placed on top of the abatement and fixed tightly.
From here on it’s a matter of healing and looking after the Implant to ensure that it’s always clean and cared for. Brushing and flossing is a must as well as regular check-ups with your dentist is also important to make sure all is well.
What do I do now?
Once you have had your dental implant it’s important to keep in mind that they need to be maintained with good oral hygiene like brushing regularly after meals and flossing daily. Regular dental check-ups are also important to make sure all is well. With continual proper care your implants will last a life time.
For the next few days, and especially the first 24 hours, it is very important to allow your body to start the natural healing process. Keep anything sharp from entering the wound (crunchy food, toothpicks, eating utensils). Be sure to chew on the opposite side for 24 hours.
Bleeding is normal after surgery. You can wrap a small sterile gauze and place it on the bleeding area, keep slight pressure on this gauze for half an hour or until the bleeding clots. Small amounts of blood in the saliva can make your saliva appear quite red. This is normal and may be noticed the rest of the day after the procedure.
It is normal to be in pain after a surgery. Prescription pain medication is prescribed, take it as instructed on the label. Don't exceed the dose on the label. Taking with food or milk will help reduce upset stomach. Avoid driving or operating heavy machinery when taking pain prescriptions. Do not drink alcohol while taking prescription pain medications.
It is possible for the area that has undergone surgery to swell. This is absolutely normal because it’s the body’s way of healing itself. It could take up to a week to calm and is usually worse from the 2nd to the 4th day. To reduce the swelling, as much as possible, you should place on the area an ice pack wrapped in a towel for 15 minutes on the swollen area and repeat this every 15 minutes for the day of the surgery. It is also possible to appear bruises on the skin.
A slight increase in body temperature is normal and not alarming. It is important to give your body the rest it deserves to help it recover. Try and relax as much as possible for a few days and don’t do anything overly physical this will help keep the blood pressure lower will reduce bleeding and aid healing.
Difficulties in mouth opening
This occurs often especially after the procedure or the tooth removal .In this case, you should make an effort to slowly open your mouth.
If stitches are placed on the wound, it is possible to feel some tension after a few days. However, this will disappear after their removal, 7 days following the surgery. Breaking one or more sutures is not alarming.
On the day of the surgery, you should not rinse your mouth, brush your teeth or spit and do not brush your teeth for the first 8 hours after surgery. After this, you may brush your teeth gently, but avoid the area of surgery for 3 days.
24 hours after the surgery you should rinse with a saltwater solution (1/2 teaspoon salt + 1/2 teaspoon soda + 8 ounces warm water). Avoid commercial mouth rinses. While you can brush your teeth paying particular attention to the area of the surgery.
For the first 2 days food must be soft and cold. Over the next two days food can be a little bit harder. On the day of the surgery you should avoid anything hot. Maintain a good, balanced diet. Return to normal regular meals as soon as you are able after the first two days. Drink plenty of water. Avoid alcohol for 48 hours. It’s important to heat healthy meals to help give your body the nutrients it needs to be able to have a speedy recovery.
Smoking should be stopped following surgery. Healing and success of the surgery will be substantially reduced by the cigarette smoke chemicals in your body. Also the suction created when inhaling cigarettes can dislodge any blood clots. Smokers are at greater risk of infecting the post-surgery area.
If you were given an antibiotic prescription, take all of them as directed until they are gone. Women: some antibiotics can reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills. Use alternate birth control methods for two months.
Follow up appointment
You may need to return to the office to have sutures removed, or just for a brief follow-up healing check.
Please call your dentist if you have:
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