Many of us will have had the unpleasant experience of losing a tooth, whether through necessary extraction or accident. Missing teeth don’t necessarily have to be replaced, but for many people, there are cosmetic as well as oral health reasons for doing so.
The traditional method involved a fixed bridge or a removable denture, but advances in dental technology, including dental IT, have made dental implants, which were first trialed several decades ago, a feasible alternative for most people. These days, dental implants can be a cost-effective and relatively pain-free way to replace missing teeth.
Dental implant technology
Dental implants are formed of three separate parts. The first section is a titanium implant, which is inserted into the bone, taking the place of the root of the old tooth. This section has to be precisely constructed to ensure a proper fit, so your dentist will use hi-tech dental equipment to survey the area and to calculate the extent of bone available. On top of the implant is a section called the pillar, which can be made from titanium, ceramics or even gold. This provides the necessary tight seal between the implant and the crown or bridge, which is the visible part of the implant.
Are dental implants right for me?
If you think that a dental implant might be right for you, or your dentist suggests it as a possibility, then it is important to ask for a complete consultation, ensuring that a full check is made of your suitability for the procedure, and giving you the chance to ask questions. Your suitability may also depend on factors such as drinking or smoking, which can delay the post-procedure healing process, while patients who grind their gums can have difficulties with the fusing of the implant. Your dentist should carefully consider your dental records and any other illnesses or conditions you may have.
Dental implant aftercare
Modern technology has made what was once a difficult and painful surgical process far easier and far less uncomfortable. There is also a lot that you can do as a patient to help the recovery process and to avoid the risk of infection. This includes trying to keep food away from the surgical area while it heals and using hot salt mouthwashes to help keep the site clean, particularly during the first week after surgery. A certain amount of pain and swelling may occur during the first few days after the procedure, but this is normal and can usually be alleviated sufficiently with painkillers, or where necessary, the use of ice packs in the short term.
As with any dental procedure, it is important to discuss it thoroughly with your dentist, and to establish the cost of the implant process in detail beforehand, to ensure that there are no unexpected costs. However, for those patients who are suitable for the process, dental implants can be an effective and relatively pain-free way of restoring their smile and protecting their dental health.