Dental implants are widely considered to be an effective treatment for tooth replacement. The key to successful functional and cosmetic outcome is proper diagnosis and treatment planning of the area. The supporting bone and gum are critical to both parameters of success. To obtain this success, procedures like bone grafting or gum grafting may be required along with the implant therapy.

What are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are usually titanium fixtures that mimic the root of a tooth. They are biomimetic in that they are coated with hydroxyapatite which allows the implant to be integrated by the patients own bone. This usually takes around four months for integration, which at that point a crown can be fabricated.

Dental patients need to understand the following points regarding dental implants:

  • This is a surgical procedure
  • Implants are very effective
  • Successful integration requires healthy tissue

Are Dental Implants Different from Veneers?
A dental implant is an entire tooth replacement, and it integrates into the existing tissues over a period of time. This is a common solution for patients who experience tooth loss from a cumulative condition, sudden trauma or disease. The implant is inserted into the tissue, which is the same location as the natural tooth’s root. The threading on the screw helps the tooth to lodge permanently into place. The materials used are designed to help the body recognize the new substance as an acceptable replacement for the natural bone. This helps the integration process, which is key to the success of the implant.

A dental veneer is not a surgical fixture similar to a dental implant. A veneer is a restorative procedure that is bonded to a natural tooth. Veneers are placed on the surface of the tooth, and they can be adjusted according to the patient’s preferences and comfort.

How do Dental Surgeons Work?
The patient seeking dental implant surgery will need to get a complete dental exam, which might include a full-mouth X-ray or a CT scan. This is useful in developing a plan that is appropriate for each individual. Everyone has a different set of problems, and implant surgery is only considered to be successful after integration occurs. The initial examination gives the doctor enough evidence to determine if the patient is likely to have a tissue composition that would support the period of integration.

What are the Benefits of Dental Implants?
Dental implants help patients recover normal chewing actions, and to restore the patients own dentition. Many patients are motivated by various social imperatives. A pleasant smile is an essential part of many jobs. In addition to the employment concerns, people simply like to smile, and they feel more comfortable doing so with a nice set of teeth.

Comfort is another major reason for dental implants. Chewing and eating can be the source of discomfort for people who are missing teeth, and having this ability restored can improve the quality of life in countless ways. Dental implants do not require the additional modification of other teeth, so the patient’s overall health can benefit from the new teeth. When chewing food is uncomfortable or painful, various additional problems may accumulate. Dental implants can improve oral hygiene, nutrition and function.

Common problems addressed by implants may include any of the following:

  • Fractured, missing or broken teeth
  • Structural reasons
  • Replacement for a tooth extraction

In addition to these benefits, dental implants also help patients to maintain the cranial structure. This is an important feature of dental implants because the balance of underlying bones and soft tissues can either alleviate or exacerbate existing nerve and tissue dysfunctions. What is at stake is the ability of the skull to maintain its shape, and missing teeth can cause a series of tissue compensations to occur. This can cause a series of problems relating to speaking and communicating comfortably.

As the body tries to adapt to the missing teeth, underlying tissues can squeeze nerves or even collapse in some areas. When many teeth go missing for extended periods of time, the chances for an adverse compensation event to occur will increase. There are also other medical conditions that may impair the patient’s ability to benefit from dental implants. The initial medical consultation is important for the success of the procedure. Patients should provide their doctor with a complete medical history to help rule out complicating factors.

Many patients can experience a variety of improvements after a successful implant surgery, which may include:

  • Improvements in speech and mastication
  • Self-esteem enhancement

The surrounding structures often respond to missing teeth by shifting and compensating. The remaining teeth may become displaced, which can cause a series of secondary problems. Many experienced dental patients will seek a solution right away to avoid these problems at a later time. Dental implants can be a good option for people who want to prevent future problems from developing. Implants provide patients with a permanent solution to various problems caused by missing or broken teeth.

One of the most surprising consequences of missing teeth is malnutrition. People who are missing teeth may change many of their normal eating patterns, which can decrease the amount of nutrition their body is used to consuming. When a person has to struggle to chew their food, it quickly becomes less enjoyable, and it may even cause health problems.

Cost of Dental Implants
The cost of any dental implant is affected by the area where the procedure is performed. The average cost for a single implant is around $3000, and it is not uncommon for this procedure to be performed in conjunction with other forms of dental care. A specialist needs to perform this surgery, and the costs of each fixture can be considerable.

The total dental bill will be affected by several different factors:

  • The dental surgeon may recommend additional treatments
  • The patient will require X-rays or other preliminary procedures
  • The site may need multiple surgeries to accept the implant

Materials for Dental Implants
Titanium is commonly found in dental implants because it fuses with natural bone tissue. This helps the integration process, which is essential for stabilizing the surrounding areas. The implant is inserted into the same position as the natural root, so it can easily bond with the existing tissues.

  • Successful implants require integration
  • Individual circumstances may affect the outcome
  • The patient will need abutments and crowns (the actual tooth portion above the gum attached to the implant)

Integration is the process where the implant fuses with the bone, which allows the patient to exert a normal amount of force during chewing and other activities. Dental implants often require a series of steps before it is considered fully successful, and this may require several periods of integration between each surgery. Patients with healthy teeth and gums tend to experience a quick
recovery period.

The abutment can be attached during the initial surgery or after the first healing period, which is normally around six months. The abutment is simply a device that binds the new tooth to the implant device.

Maintaining Dental Implants
Swelling, bleeding and soreness are common after surgeries. Anti-inflammatory medications can help reduce these effects right after surgery, and they can also help with the pain. Dietary restrictions are usually indicated for the first week after the procedure. The surgeon may use self-dissolving stitches; however, if regular stitches were used, the patient will have to return to the office to have them removed. Maintaining the recommended diet during this period is very important. You may need to refrain from solid foods for up to a week.

Cleaning the implant properly is important during the integration period. Common daily activities can impair successful integration of dental implants, so patients need to be aware of these items. Active smokers may need to explore alternatives before proceeding with the dental surgery. Infections are common with this group of patients, and this can cause the integration to fail. Flossing and regular brushing is also necessary for preventing infections.

Patients who adopt the best practices of dental care before their implant procedure experience the highest rates of success. The difference in the appearance of the patient before and after the procedure is remarkable. Proper dental hygiene is a life-long process, and good habits can speed up the healing process during the integration periods.

A Cosmetic Dentist’s Point of View on Implants
Most successful surgeries are a combination of surgical skill and healthy tissues. During my career as a cosmetic dentist, I have noticed that the most important aspect of this procedure is the proper diagnosis and treatment planning around the implant. The most successful implant is one that mimics nature. In order for that to occur, the surrounding tissue must also mimic that of nature. The surgical-restorative-laboratory team has to plan and execute in order to achieve optimal results.

In addition to these benefits, they also talk about the incredible feeling of natural teeth. Many dental patients previously had to adjust to the process of taking their dentures out before sleeping, but now they can go to bed right away. It is very important for everyone to understand how regular dental hygiene during their developmental years can support dental implants later in life.