What is a dental implant and what is its work principle?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth including the tooth root that can replace a lost natural tooth and its root. It consists of metal posts or frames that are positioned surgically into the jawbones beneath the gums, and artificial teeth which are mounted on the frames. Replacing natural root with the titanium post that gradually fuses with the surrounding bone ensures a strong support to a new tooth.
There are usually two types of dental implants:
- Endosteal implants: Most commonly used implants. These are placed into the jaws and have typical shapes like small screws, cylinders or plates.
- Subperiosteal implants: These are placed under the gum but on, or above, the jawbone. Used in patients with a shallow jawbone and in those who don’t want to undergo a procedure to rebuild it.
Dental implants also come in various sizes and heights, including standard and narrow (mini). We at Smart Smile Dentistry in Gainesville, FL have dental experts who are proficient in helping you know what option is excellent for you depending on the tooth or teeth that need to be replaced.
Process of implant placement
Single tooth implant replacement.
Single-tooth implants are used in people with one, two or more missing teeth. Surgical placement of the implant is done by creating an opening in the jawbone. After the implant get integrates to the bone, it behaves as a new “root” for the artificial crown. A crown (cap), which looks like a natural tooth, is attached to the implant, and it fills the void produced by the missing tooth in the mouth.
For this procedure to be a success, there should be enough bone in the jaw. The bone has to be robust to hold and support the implant. If the bone is not sufficient, it may need to be added by bone augmentation or bone grafting. Also, natural teeth and supporting tissues near the implant must be in good health.
The time required for the whole procedure depends on many factors. In the traditional method of an implant placement, the shortest time structure for a complete implant procedure is about five months for the lower jaw and six months in the upper jaw, including surgeries and placement of the permanent crown. But in some cases, where the bone needs to be built up first, the process can last a year or more.
In the traditional method, two procedures are done with three to six months of gap between the two. In the first procedure, a small incision is made in the gum where the implant will be put. Bone is drilled to make a hole, the implant is placed into that hole, and the incision is stitched closed.
When the healing gets completed, a second procedure takes place. A new incision is made to expose the implant. A collar known as the healing cap is screwed onto the top of the implant. It helps in healing of the surrounding gum tissue. After a couple of weeks, the healing cap is removed. The abutment is then screwed into the implant and used to support the crown.
Multiple teeth implant replacement.
If there are many missing adjacent teeth, these may either be replaced by single implants (one for every missing tooth) or by joining two or more implants together. Selecting the latter makes implant treatment much affordable for the patients.
The significance of replacing missing molar teeth cannot be over-emphasized as these are the large multi-rooted teeth, designed for the major work of chewing food. They are considered to be the powerhouses of one’s bite, as are used for crushing and grinding.
When molars get lost this workload of chewing gets transferred to the front single-rooted teeth, which are not designed to grind and break food in the way as molars do. The excess stresses on your anterior teeth will inevitably cause damage in the long-term.
Is dental implant procedure painful?
Sometimes patients are more afraid of the pain created by the surgical procedure of implant placement and hence the question arises does implant treatment hurts a lot? While there is always some discomfort with any form of dental surgery, patients usually find the pain of dental implants to be minimal, and the results are well worth the recovery process. Because dental implant surgery is performed under either local or general anesthesia, the procedure itself is not painful. Your mouth will be numb as the implant is placed into the jaw bone. If you are worried about the discomfort during the procedure, ask your dentist about all the options of sedation by which you can be more relaxed in the dentist’s chair.