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Dental implants are actually a series of procedures used to recreate a missing tooth. The key part of a dental implant is the initial titanium implant which function like artificial tooth roots which sits in the original tooth's bone pocket, or alveolus.

The titanium works well with the bone and actually forms a bond with it over time, much like the original bond between the tooth and the jaw bone. This is essential as it prevents bone loss that would normally occur with any other type of tooth replacement. Dental implants are capped with a crown, which replicates the enamel or visible portion of a tooth, and in many cases the replacement tooth will work just as well, if not better, than the original tooth.

The dental implant procedure is considered a prosthodontic procedure which means it encompasses both prosthetic (which is where a missing tooth is replaced) and cosmetic dentistry, it involves both dental disciplines. By replacing missing tooth roots, dental implants provide people with the strength and stability required to eat all the foods they love, without struggling to chew.

Dental implants stimulate and maintain jaw bone, the dental implant is strong, biocompatible and promotes bone formation on its surface therefor preventing bone loss and helping to maintain facial features.

1. Dental Implants: Consultation, Placement, & Recovery

To determine if implants are right for you, a consultation with your dentist is needed. During this appointment, we will thoroughly examine your teeth and gums and evaluate bone density and quantity.This will involve X-rays and computer tomography scans to ensure there is sufficient bone structure for placing the implant, and to determine exactly where the implant should be placed based on the structures that surround it.

Once we have determined the condition of your oral tissues, oral hygiene and personal habits, and your commitment to follow aftercare instructions, we will advise you of the most appropriate dental implant treatment plan. Some patients with insufficient bone or gum tissue require bone or soft tissue grafts and/or the use of small diameter implants also called mini implants.

As each case is unique, we will advise you of how long the entire treatment process will take, how many appointments will be necessary and what you can expect after each procedure.

2. The Dental Implant Placement Procedure

Dental implant restorations are almost indistinguishable from your natural teeth. This is due partly to the structural and functional connection between the dental implant and the living bone.

Implants are typically placed in a single sitting but require a period of time of healing to allow for osseointegration, which is the process where the dental implant anchors to the jaw bone. An osseointegrated implant takes anywhere from 3 to 6 months to anchor and heal.

Only after several months when the implant has fully osteointegrated, will the dentist complete the procedure by placing a crown restoration. If osseointegration does not occur, the implant will fail. Dental implantation which is performed to replace missing teeth, can be done any time after adolescence or when bone growth is complete. This is why implants are not placed on children.

Certain medical conditions such as active diabetes, cancer or periodontal disease, may require additional treatment before the implant procedure can be performed as healing of bone may not be predictable in these conditions.

3. Precautions

Implant treatment requires proper planning ensuring success. The jawbone and general health are important factors to be included in the planning, such as:

• No pathology of the jawbone in the area for the implant to be placed
• Lack of bone in the area of the missing teeth which will require addition of bone (grafting) in order for the implant to be fully embedded
• Diabetics will need to control blood sugar level prior to surgery
• Smokers will need to stop smoking for the healing to be successful

4. Dental Implants Recovery

Dental implant recovery depends on a number of factors, one of which includes the various procedures required to complete your treatment. However, it is generally recognized that once an implant has been placed, maintaining diligent oral hygiene habits is required to ensure proper fusing of the implant and bone structure. If cared for properly, an implant restoration can remain in place for more than 15 years.

After the initial surgical procedure, discomfort should be minimal. Swelling of your gums and face may occur, as well as minor bleeding and bruising of the implant site. Prescription pain medications may be prescribed to relieve any pain or discomfort you feel after the procedure.

Healing from the surgical procedure to place the dental implant takes up from four to six months, while the fitting and seating of the crown can take up to three weeks. This timeframe however will differ from case to case. Follow-up appointments with your dentist after placement of the implants are essential for monitoring your progress

5. Implant Surgery Follow-Up & Aftercare

For up to seven days after surgery, your diet should be restricted to soft foods. If stitches are present, they may need to be removed by your dentist; however, self-dissolving stitches that do not require removal are typically used.

If temporary restorations were placed along with the dental implant, it will be important to clean them as you would your natural teeth to ensure the best possible healing and fusing of the implant.

Failure to floss and brush is a leading cause of implant failure as infection can occur if the implant and surrounding areas are not cleaned properly. Smoking also is found to cause high failure rates with dental implants and should be avoided following implant procedures.

6. Implants Vs. Bridges

When it comes to replacing missing teeth there are several options. The 2 most popular to replace missing teeth are dental implants and dental bridges. The question is which option is right for you?

7. How They Work?

A dental implant is basically an artificial tooth root (typically made from titanium) that is anchored in place of a missing tooth. A temporary protective cover screw is placed on the implant while it fuses with the jawbone. This process is called osseointegration which can take up to six months to complete. After completed osseointegration, the protective cover is replaced by a temporary crown. This serves as a template around which the gum grows and shapes itself in a natural way. The process is completed when the temporary crown is replaced by a permanent crown.

A dental bridge is less invasive into the gums but in other ways more invasive than a dental implant. Unlike implants, bridges do not replace a tooth root. Instead, a bridge uses one or more surrounding teeth as a support on which to attach a crown that can fill the missing tooth space. The treatment process is not nearly as long as the implant process as it does not require osseointegration.

It is more invasive because it requires the permanent alteration of adjacent teeth to support the bridge. As the name implies, a dental bridge literally bridges the gap between teeth resulting from a missing tooth. The restoration therefore must be anchored to one or more adjacent teeth, which must first be prepared in order to function as a support.

8. Which Is Best For You?

Dental implants and dental bridges both have certain requirements that must be met in order to be successful. Which procedure is best for you is determined during an initial treatment consultation.

Dental implantation must be performed after adolescence when bone growth is complete. X-ray or CT scans will likely be used to evaluate bone density and quality and to determine whether a potential implant patient has enough bone structure for implantation.

Smokers will need to quit smoking due to the fact that there is a higher rate of implant failure for smokers. Additionally, people suffering from diabetes, cancer or periodontal disease may need additional treatments in order to allow for success of the procedure.

Dental bridge is far less restrictive than dental implants because of the relatively less invasive nature of the bridge procedure. The primary factor in determining bridge procedure success is the health and stability of the supporting teeth. If you suffer from periodontal disease, tooth decay or have chips or cracks, you may need to undergo additional treatments before the teeth are strong enough to support a dental bridge.

“Dr. Fauziah is the best! Went to the clinic with a gap in my teeth and left the place constantly smiling. Highly recommended.”

- Justin Kong