We, as dentists, always come across patients asking for teeth which will fulfill the criteria of looking natural. The key to achieve a natural, esthetically pleasing smile and functionally active form of dentition is by the installation of dental implants. There has been a substantial growth in the field of dental implantology. The global dental implants market is estimated to expand at the Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 6.9% between 2017 and 2025. Teeth damage caused due to accidents top the list for requirement of dental implants. Next in line, are the eating habits due to high sugar diets and periodontal conditions.
According to the placement there are two types of dental implants:
- Endosteal: These are made of titanium. The screw is placed in the jaw and the teeth are attached. Hence it is operated in two phases.
- Subperiosteal: These are optimum for people who don’t have much jaw structure left. It is not placed in the jaw as in case of endosteal implants. Rater they are placed above the jaw.
Dental Implants can further be classified according to the teeth being replaced:
- Solo implants are used to replaces one missing teeth.
- Implant supported bridges: Are administered in case of multiple missing teeth. It uses natural teeth and implants to form a functionally stable bridge.
- Implant supported dentures: These are used when patients have edentulous jaws (all teeth are missing)
Periodontal diseases are prevalent worldwide. This results in demand of more implants by the patients. Columbia University College of Dental Medicine mentions dental plaque as the main agent causing periodontal diseases. Dental Plaque can be simply termed as a film made of bacteria that sticks to the outer surface of teeth (enamel). Further, it forms calculus which is hardened form of plaque and difficult to remove. This may result in:
- Gingival recession
- Tooth decay
To prevent plaque from forming, one can incorporate following habits in their routine:
- Brushing teeth twice a day
- To use soft bristle toothbrushes along with toothpastes that has fluoride which protects teeth from decaying.
- The space between two teeth is called interdental space and while brushing it is not accessible many a times. Hence dentists, advise flossing every alternate day using dental floss or one can even use interdental brushes with cleaners. Following this will help prevent gum diseases like gingivitis.
- Lifestyle influences oral health too and hence eating a balanced diet containing less sugar. Sugar rich diet facilitates bacteria growth and accumulation. This may further cause decay/resorption as the bacteria produce acids.
Dentists advise annual checkups. They help early diagnosis and prevent further worsening of any oral condition.
- Dental implants are highly indicated when one/more teeth are to be replaced.
- In cases where the patients are not comfortable with removable dentures and want aesthetically pleasing teeth.
- In cases where bridges won’t be able to achieve functionality, specifically when posterior teeth are missing.
There are conditions where dental implants are not advised:
- The foremost physical examination needs a patient to be sound and of conscious mind. Hence a mentally challenged patient is contraindicated when it comes to dental implants.
- Patients with history of osteoporosis cannot be termed as ideal for implants.
- Autoimmune disease like AIDS may cause complications
- Severe uncontrolled heart condition can cause complications too.
- It may be contraindicated in patients with alcohol or tobacco addiction.
- Systemic diseases like diabetes need to be under control prior to undergoing treatment for dental implants.
To undertake, dental implant surgery: The dentist needs to do thorough oral diagnosis and solve any tooth decay or other conditions like gum diseases to get the best results while implementing dental implants.
Further, smokers are asked to stop smoking to prevent failures of implants as they stand a risk.
The treatment provides esthetically-pleasing natural-looking teeth. The procedure where the implant is placed and attached to the bone or jaw is termed as “OSSEOINTEGRATION”. After the procedure, it usually takes up to six months after which the crown is placed depending whether it is healed or not.
Below are few questions often asked by patients and postoperative care:
- Pain after dental implant: During the treatment, anesthesia is administered. So, patients won’t feel the pain. After the procedure, the patients may experience mild discomfort which can be relieved by the medications prescribed by the dentist.
- Eating instructions: Patients are advised to eat soft food for a week after the treatment. Avoiding sticky, hard, spicy, hot and acidic food is must. Drinking plenty fluids is advised.
- How long does the swelling last after dental implant: Swelling, bruising and minor bleeding may be evident at the site of implant. That is not regarded as a complication and it subsides with the help of medications. The swelling is more pronounced after 48 hours and it may stretch up to a week. Patients are advised to apply ice packs alternately for 20 mins.
- Drinking alcohol after dental implant surgery is not advised. Smoking is also not allowed for up to 2 weeks post-surgery.
- Keeping head elevated helps with resolving the swelling. Any extensive swelling should be reported to the dentist.
- Patients are advised not to rinse mouth for the first 48 hours.
- Strenuous physical exercise should be eliminated for the first 3 days to prevent bleeding. In case of bleeding, the patient can apply light pressure. If the bleeding persists, dentist should be contacted.
- Avoiding chewing on the side of the operation is advised.
It is crucial to follow home care routine to maintain oral hygiene. It helps long term success of dental implants and also may become a lifetime solution for some. While the healing is underway, the patient may use lukewarm salt water to rinse mouth.
Dental implant failures can occur due to: poor blood supply, poor health, infections and allergic reactions. One needs to look out for signs like: increased swelling, loosening of implant, severe pain, gum recession or inflammation to name a few.
To conclude, dental implants can prove to be a lifetime solution when delivered in healthy patients.