It is a well known fact that Americans place a high premium on a good looking smile. Despite this, many people around the United States are missing teeth. Nearly 15 million have either bridges or crowns to replace teeth. Another three million have had dental implants put in. Every year, another 500,000 have dental implants put in to restore their healthy smiles. The success rate for dental implants is about 98 to 99%. These are the closest thing you can get to natural teeth.
What is the dental implant process like? What happens before the surgery?
The procedure itself is pretty minor but the implant dentist needs to make sure there is enough bone in the jaw to support and implant. When a person loses a tooth and the root dies, the jaw is used as a place for the body to get the calcium it needed. Calcium is an important mineral for the proper functioning of many systems in the body such as the nervous system.
If a person is found to not have enough bone in the jaw, a bone graft can be done to make jaw ready to support the implant. This will extend the process but will not preclude someone from having dental implants put in. The family dentist needs only to do some x-rays to ascertain the status of the jaw.
The oral surgery to put in the implant can be done under several different levels of anesthesia. People can be completely sedated or the procedure can be done with the help of a local anesthetic. Either way, the are will be totally number and the patient should not be able to feel anything.
What happens during the oral surgery?
After the person has been given enough numbing medicine or has been sedated, the oral surgeon prepares the site. This site preparation is when a small channel or hole is created in the bone. To get to the bone, the oral surgeon places several incisions into the gums. Basically flaps are created in the gums. These are put in help guide the oral surgeon to help them put the implant in the correct place.
The oral surgeon then uses a drilling sequence that takes a small hole and gradually increases it to the point where it can accommodate the implant. The implant should fit nearly perfectly in this hole. There are times when this is done without the help of the flaps being made in the gums.
The process by which the drilling into the bone is done makes a big difference in how well the implant will fuse to the bone. Whenever you are handling living bone, care must be taken. The pressure applied must be gentle and the area has to be constantly cooled with water. The drilling process can create more heat than can be handled by living bone.
After the holes are large enough, the implant is places in the site. All dental implants are totally sterile. X-rays are often used to make sure these have been placed correctly. Once the flaps are closed, the surgery is considered to be complete. Sometimes this closing is done with sutures that will absorb into the body, other times they need to be removed in about seven to 14 days.
What happens after surgery?
Typically, recovery from the dental implant surgery is pretty low key. Most people do not experience a lot of pain, discomfort or swelling. Many people benefit from taking some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as Advil (ibuprofen) or Aleve (naproxen sodium). Many oral surgeons will send their patients home with prescription pain killers, too. If you are concerned about pain, you should talk to your surgeon. Often antibiotics are also prescribed. It is often also advised that people use certain mouthwashes after the surgery to facilitate healing.
The healing process after dental implant surgery is usually uneventful. If you experience any problems, you should talk to your oral surgeon. People are advised that the area will be sore for a few days but that this is normal. It makes sense to try to chew on the other side until the healing is complete.
Dental implants are the closest thing to real teeth and the best way to replace lost teeth.