Looking back at photos, preparing to take that selfie, smiling into the mirror – but all you can see where a tooth once was, is a great big gap, staring right back at you. Maybe it’s not just one gap but multiple, and you’ve finally decided that it’s time to be proactive and get your confidence back with dental implants!
Here we’ve put together a guide to all the frequently asked questions about dental implants. From the facts to the process, misconceptions to the aftercare. As always, no one dental journey is the same as another – so don’t forget to contact us and book in a customised consultation today.
What are dental implants?
There are a few different types of dental implants, the most common being Endosteal implants which are placed directly into the jawbone, and commonly stylised as individual screw-like surgical components made from titanium. Subperiosteal implants on the other hand, are metal frameworks with small extensions which are placed under the gum and on top of the jawbone.
Dental implants have the core function of acting as tooth roots for artificial teeth, crowns or bridges. Once placed in or on top of the jawbone, it is permanent. Over time this results in bone growth around the implant, referred to as osseointegration. This process sees the implant stabilising, allowing it to support the artificial tooth, crown or dental bridge that will be placed above.
What does the procedure involve?
In general, dental implant procedures are broken down into 6 key stages (detailed below) and completed over several months. Progression is heavily dependent on an individual’s bone growth rate post the initial implant.
- Stage 1 – Scans and x-rays are taken to provide concise imaging of the implant site.
- Stage 2 – Under anaesthetic, the implant is placed into the jaw bone.
- Stage 3 – Osseointegration (bone growth) occurs around the site resulting in stabilisation.
- Stage 4 – A foundation is created for the artificial tooth, crown or bridge.
- Stage 5 – A mould is taken to create the artificial tooth, crown or bridge.
- Stage 6 – The artificial tooth, crown or bridge is screwed or cemented into the foundation.
How to look after your dental implants
The key benefit to choosing dental implants over alternative procedures is that implants are intended to last a lifetime! As with any procedure, proper aftercare is crucial to encouraging successful healing. Whilst ongoing maintenance helps to ensure longevity.
- Avoid hot food and drinks for the first 24-48 hours.
- Avoid solid foods for the first 24-48 hours or until swelling subsides.
- Treat discomfort and swelling with ice packs and prescribed pain medication.
- Brush your teeth with a super soft, flexible and small headed toothbrush.
- Rinse your mouth regularly with warm salty water especially after meals.
- Adopt a regular flossing, brushing and antimicrobial mouth washing routine.
- Avoid smoking as this is a common trigger for implant issues.
- Schedule dental visits for regular check-ups and professional cleans.
Common myths and misconceptions about dental implants
Given the common nature of dental implant procedures, chances are you will know someone that has had one before and is not shy to share with you their advice and experience. However, as we know, the experience is individual and there are many myths and misconceptions out there.
- Dental implants are not considered for older people.
This is a common myth which sees many believing that dentures are the only option for older people. However, it is quite the opposite! With age, our jawlines mature and fully develop over time, ensuring a stable foundation for implants to stay in place.
- Implant procedures are painful, risky and can be ineffective.
All implant procedures are conducted under anaesthetic and therefore you will not feel any pain. Post procedure discomfort is common and can be managed with pain medication. As with all surgical procedures, there will always be risks involved. Some risks that can occur with dental implants are post procedure infection, damage to surrounding teeth, delayed bone healing, nerve damage, prolonged bleeding or jaw fractures. However, the high success rate indicates that they are rarely ineffective, and generally carry a lower risk of complications.
- Implants can cause headaches.
Many believe that the titanium present in dental implants can cause migraines or headaches – this myth is not supported by any clinical research. Instead the pain can be better attributed to rare but possible nerve damage or a misaligned bite post surgery medically referred to as Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ). The effects of TMJ tend to disappear on their own, whilst serious cases can be treated by a dentist.
Ready to fill those gaps and say hello to your dream smile? Contact your friendly TLC clinic and book in your customised consultation today!