A dental implant is an artificial root made up of titanium in the shape of a screw. The dental implant is used to replace the root of a tooth. They are placed in the jawbone in the position of the tooth root, where they form a bond with the natural bone. These implants become the base and support of one or more artificial tooth.
A person can undergo dental implant if he/she:
- Has a missing tooth
- Has enough bone to hold the implant or can have a bone graft
- Has a fully-grown jawbone
- Has healthy oral tissues
- Has no health condition that may affect bone healing
- Is unwilling or unable to wear dentures
- Wants to improve their speech
Also, the person should not smoke or chew tobacco. He/she should be ready for the process, which may take several months.
PREPARATION BEFORE PROCEDURE
Dental implant procedure requires one or more surgical procedure. Therefore, a complete evaluation is done to prepare for the procedure.
The complete oral examination will be done; dental X-rays and 3D images will be taken to evaluate the internal condition of the teeth and bone. Models of the teeth and jaw are prepared. The information about medical and medication history will be obtained.
The treatment plan will be made by a team of experts, including oral and maxillofacial surgeon (specialized to treat conditions of mouth, face and jaw), periodontist (specialized to treat conditions of gums and bones), prosthodontists (specialized to design artificial teeth) and sometime ENT (ear, neck and throat) specialists. The planning depends on the several factors like the number of teeth to be replaced, condition of the jawbone and tooth present in the oral cavity.
- Endosteal: This type of implant is placed in the bone. It is the most frequently used implant. The implants are of various types like screws, blades or cylinders. These implants are surgically placed in the jawbone, which supports one or more artificial teeth. Mostly, in patients with removable dentures or bridges, these implants are used as an alternative treatment.
- Subperiosteal: The implant is placed on the bone (on top of the jaw) with a metal framework post that extends out from the gum to hold the prosthesis. These implants are often used in patients who are not able to use conventional dentures and have a nominal bone height.
The dental implant procedure may be done under sedation, local anaesthesia, or general anaesthesia. It may be completed in one stage or multiple stages, which may take several months to complete. The complete procedure involves several steps, such as:
- Removing the damaged tooth: If any damaged or decayed tooth is present in the oral cavity, which may hinder the success rate of the implant, it is removed.
- Preparing the jaw bone (grafting): If the thickness of the jaw bone is less or bone is too soft, then bone grafting may be required before the dental implant surgery. The bone graft can be natural bone graft (graft from another location of the body) or synthetic bone graft (bone-substitute material).
- Placing the dental implant: A cut is made to open the gum and access the bone. Then holes are drilled in the bone in which the metal implant post will be placed. The implant is positioned deep into the bone, as it should function as the tooth root.
- Waiting for the bone to heal and grow: After placing the metal implant, the process of osseointegration begins in which the jawbone grows and unites with the surface of the dental implant. It may take several months.
- Placing the abutment: After the bone heals and grows, another surgery may be done to place the abutment, the piece on which crown will be attached. Mostly, this procedure is performed as an outpatient procedure under the effect of local anaesthesia. Sometimes, the abutment may be attached to the implant during the implant placement. Thus, no extra surgery may be required.
- Placing the artificial tooth: After placing the abutment tooth, the gums are allowed to heal for two weeks. After the healing process of the gums is complete, an artificial tooth is placed on the abutment. A person along with his dentist can choose between fixed, removable or combination of both types of the artificial tooth.
Swelling of the face and gums are common during and after the procedure. Medicines will be given to reduce swelling. There may be minor bleeding, which is normal during the procedure. You may also experience pain at the implant site. Pain medication may be given after dental implant surgery.
Following measures may aid in faster recovery after the dental implant:
- Consume soft food after every stage of the procedure
- Visit your dentist regularly
- Avoid chewing hard items to prevent the breakage of crown
- Avoid consuming tobaccos and caffeine products that can stain teeth
- Follow good hygiene methods and keep the area clean
- Use inter-dental floss to clean the space between the teeth
FACTORS AFFECTING COST
The cost of a dental implant may vary depending on
- The number of teeth to be replaced
- Type of material used
- Additional procedures required, such as bone grafts