What are Dental Implants?
Dental Implants are a replacement for missing tooth/teeth. A dental implant essentially corresponds to that portion of the tooth that functions as the root and lies inside the bone.
Implants along with other components such as an abutment and the crown form a complete unit to replace a single missing tooth.
They fuse to the bone and provide support to a crown, bridge of teeth, dentures, etc.
What are the benefits of Dental Implants?
Dental implants feel and function like natural teeth. And because they fuse with bone, they are one of the available permanent solutions.
Dental implants do not require involvement of other teeth, as in the case of tooth supported bridges. Since adjacent teeth are not altered, more of teeth are left intact, improving long-term oral health. They also eliminate the inconvenience of removable dentures/ solutions.
Individual implants also allow easier access between teeth, improving oral hygiene.
Who needs Dental Implants?
Anyone who requires replacement for a single or multiple missing teeth is a candidate for a dental implant. The prerequisites for the placement of dental implants include:
• Healthy gums
• Adequate bone support
• Good oral hygiene
People suffering from diabetes or heart diseases require a thorough evaluation of their health status before opting for dental implants.
How is the procedure done?
The first dental visit involves a thorough medical and dental evaluation. An individualized treatment plan is developed for each patient.
The dentist/ implantologist examines the region that requires the implant and may advice specific tests. An X-ray may be required to assess the bone health, space available for placement of the implant and its proximity to the nerves and other surrounding structures. A course of antibiotics may also be prescribed before the procedure is carried out.
The most widely practiced is a procedure carried out in different stages:
Stage 1: The region that requires the implant is made numb with a local anesthetic agent. Next, the titanium implant is surgically placed underneath the gum. The region is then closed (with stitches if required) for a few weeks. This enables the implant to fuse with the surrounding bone.
Stage 2: In the next visit, the specialist checks the implant for its integration with the bone and connects the implant through the gums into the mouth with an abutment. The abutment is placed to securely hold the crown in place.
The gum is then allowed to heal around the abutment and form a collar around the tooth. The dentist then makes impressions of your teeth, and creates a model of the patient’s bite (which captures all of teeth, their arrangement in the mouth). The new tooth or teeth is fabricated based on this model.
Stage 3: A crown is then attached to the abutment in the third stage.
Nowadays, immediate loading of implants is being practiced that involves placing the implant and the crown all at the same time, rather than waiting for a few weeks between the first and second stages. However, this procedure is advised only for patients with ample bone density and with no other risk factors.
NOTE: In general, dental implants have a success rate of up to 98% and with proper care, implants can last a lifetime. However, success rates of dental implants highly depends on the individual’s general and oral health status.