A beautiful smile can do wonders. And the key to a beautiful and long-lasting smile is strong and healthy teeth. Unfortunately, according to prosthodontists records, more than 35 million Americans have missing teeth in one or both jaws. An absence of these natural teeth can not only be embarrassing but it can also affect your daily activities.
A dental implant is an excellent solution to support and restore your missing teeth and prevent jaw bone loss. It is mainly categorized in prosthetic dentistry but can also be considered as a part of cosmetic dentistry. Dental implant procedures can take a few weeks or as long as nine months all depending upon the condition of your teeth, jaw and gums.
Let’s take a look at all the important steps involved in this procedure and what all you need to consider for a quick recovery.
This is the first step in the dental implants procedure that entails consulting a qualified dentist. He’ll recommend you x-rays and scans to determine your mouth’s current condition. It’ll help in planning for the further steps. And it’s your responsibility to voice your concerns and co-operate with your doctors for the best possible outcome.
Once your dentist is done with the planning, extraction of your damaged tooth takes place. Before going for extraction, your dentist will review your medical history and current medical condition just like other surgeries. Different types of sedation are used in this procedure according to patients. Generally, local anesthetic is used but more complicated cases require sedation or general anesthesia. Your dentist will let you know what sedation you’ll require while planning phase only, so you have someone in tow to drive you home if required.
Bone Grafting (If Necessary)
Dental implants are placed in jaw bones; therefore, if your jaw bone is not strong enough for the implant, then bone grafting is required. In this process, oral surgeons remove bone from some other part of your body and place it to fuse with existing bone. This procedure requires a lot of time to recover before the grafted bone is ready to accept the implant.
Placing the Implant
This is a very precise process that requires local or general anesthesia. Your surgeon will cut a flap in your gum tissue and create a small hole in your jaw to screw the implant. Once the implant is screwed and secured, you might receive a healing cap or a cover screw, depending upon your situation.
The healing cap is similar to the shape of an abutment. This is used in cases where little or no bone grafting is needed. Cover screws are flat and help to keep your implant clean until the abutment is attached.
After your implant is done, the surgery site will remains tender, painful or even a bit bloody. This happens as your surgical site is healing; the tissues of your jaw bone are also attaching themselves to the implants. This process is known as osseointegration and might take four to five months depending upon your situation.
Here are some important tips you must consider in order to have quick and proper healing of your new implant.
- Maintain Your Diet
- Proper Oral Hygiene
- Use Gauze for Swabbing
- Apply Ice Packs
- Medicines Prescribed by the Doctor
Use pain killers or other medicines prescribed by your doctor for the specified time. Do not exceed the dosage if the recommended dose doesn’t work., Consult your doctor on priority basis in any such cases.
You should avoid extreme temperatures when consuming food or drink items because they will increase your pain or open up the wound. Stay away from crunchy, hard or chewy foods and opt for soft food items. Cut your food into small morsels, so it doesn’t disturb the surgical area.
Use mouth wash prescribed by your dentist from the day of surgery itself. Hold half a cap of your mouth wash over the surgical site for a minute and repeat this three times a day until your surgical site is healed.
After implant surgery, minor bleeding is normal, so use wet cotton gauze to swab up the area. Do not use any random piece of cloth or handkerchief because it might lead to infection. If bleeding continues, immediately contact your dentist.
Swelling and bruising is common for first two to three days after the surgery. Use ice packs to apply near the swollen area to reduce the swelling.
Attach the Abutment
After the surgical area is healed and the implant is properly bonded with the jawbone, your dentist or oral surgeon will take you through a minor surgery that involves local anesthetic. They’ll reopen the gum area where the implant was done and remove the cover screw or healing cap to attach the abutment.
Many dentists would suggest placing the temporary crown just after placing the abutment, but that’s not effective as it might hinder the process of osseointegration and lead to stability problems.
Fix the Crown
Once the abutment is screwed in, you need to wait at least two to three weeks, so your gums are healed properly and ready to affix the crown. The prosthodontist imprints your teeth and prepares a new permanent crown that will be screwed in or cemented onto the abutment by your dentist.
Dental implants are not only useful to replace a damaged or missing tooth, but they help to protect the natural oral ecology. This procedure is really helpful in improving your oral health. And what you need to focus on in order to ensure its success is to practice proper oral hygiene, check with your dentist regularly and avoid damaging habits.