Definition and Overview
Dental implants, which is referred to as dental fixtures or endosseous implants, are artificial dental components that are surgically attached to the skull or jawbone to support various prosthesis, including dentures, orthodontic anchors, bridges, and crowns.
In the process of placing the dental implants, the implant fixture, which is very similar in appearance to a screw—is surgically implanted in the bone to allow for osseointegration to occur. This is a natural process wherein materials like titanium are able to form close bonds to the bone, without the danger of rejection or infection.
Once the osseointegration process has been successful and after the site of surgery has properly healed, a dental prosthetic will be attached to the implant.
Dental implants are mainly used as a long-term support for dental prosthetics. If the implants successfully integrate with the skull or jawbone, these components will be able to effectively support the dentures for decades, with little maintenance or intervention.
Many dental and oral professionals recommend the use of dental implants because of many advantages. These include improved dental appearance and convenience for the patients. Dental prosthetics supported by implants look very much like the natural teeth and are designed for long-term or even permanent use. Oral health is also significantly improved because unlike dental crowns or dental bridges, dental implants do not necessitate the reduction of other teeth. Other advantages include higher level of comfort and improved self-confidence.
Dental Implants: The procedure
- Consultation. Placing dental implants in a patient's jawbone requires careful planning and complex oral surgery techniques. Oral health assessment is the first step in this procedure. Patients will be required to consult a licensed dentist who will check the condition of the jawbones (including their position, shape, and size, as well as the placement of the teeth) and the mucus membranes to determine if the implants will successfully integrate with the bone.
- Surgery. A dental implant surgery is performed by a licensed dental surgeon in a hospital setting. It can also be performed at the dentist's office. This outpatient procedure requires local anaesthesia but depending on several factors, the dental surgeon may elect to use other forms of sedation. Other related procedures, such as bone augmentation, may also be performed in conjunction with the surgery, depending on various clinical situations.
The dental surgeon begins by making an incision on the gum to divide it in half. Once the bone is exposed, the oral surgeon drills pilot holes into the bone. The speed of drilling is strictly controlled to prevent the death of the bone.
The dental implant is then placed into the pilot hole. After the dental implant is screwed in its place, the two flaps of the gum tissue are repositioned and stitched around it.
It is important to remember that placing dental implants in the bone is just the first step of the process. A dental prosthesis is only installed after the site of surgery has healed and after the implant has successfully integrated with the bone surrounding it.
When should you see an Oral Surgeon for Dental Implants?
Dental implants are currently the best dental solutions to missing teeth. Anyone who is healthy enough for a routine dental extraction can get dental implants. The most important factors being considered by dental professionals are the health of the gums and the amount of bones that will hold the implants in place.
Patients who smoke heavily or are suffering from chronic disorders such as heart disease and diabetes will require further treatments and therapy sessions before they qualify for the procedure.
It is strongly recommended to consult your dentist first if you are a good fit for dental implants. The cost of the procedure should also be discussed, as many dental insurance plans do not cover this procedure.
- Tissue-Integrated Prostheses, Quintessence Books
- Osseointegration and Dental Implants, John Wiley and Sons
- Craniofacial Implant Surgery, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Clinics of North America
- Decision-Making in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Quintessence Publishing Company