Dental implants are metal screw-like posts used in implant surgery to support one or more false teeth. If you are missing one or more teeth or have loose dentures and are considering getting dental implants, it’s important to know about the procedure, including what to expect, how much it costs, and what the risks are. This way, you can make decisions about your dental health based on important information.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are small metal posts surgically placed by a dentist, oral surgeon or periodontist in your jawbone to provide support and a strong foundation for one or more fixed or removable dental prostheses. The posts are made of titanium or zirconia, metals well-tolerated by the body. They are meant to fuse with the jawbone, which makes the implants solid and stable.
Why Do People Get Dental Implants?
Dental implants are usually used for people with the following conditions:
- Missing one or more teeth.
Missing a single tooth or more can affect your appearance and your ability to eat and speak properly. Aside from this, it can cause serious health and dental complications if not replaced. Dental implants can help restore both your function and your aesthetics.
- Wearing dentures.
Temporary dentures are sometimes loose and uncomfortable, making it difficult to eat and speak properly. Dental implants can help stabilise your dentures, making them more comfortable and functional.
- Unable or unwilling to wear traditional dentures.
Some people cannot wear traditional dentures because of allergies to the materials used or certain contraindications. Others simply do not like the way they look or feel. Dental implants can be a good alternative for these individuals since they do not require the use of any materials that touch the gums.
- Want to improve speech.
You may have difficulty speaking clearly if you have tooth gaps. Dental implants can help to improve your speech by filling in the gaps, allowing you to pronounce words correctly and speak with confidence.
What Happens During The Dental Implant Procedure?
Dental implant surgery involves multiple stages, with healing time in between the procedures. Here’s what you can expect:
- Your dentist will conduct a patient interview, an oral examination, and take diagnostic records during the initial consultation to determine if you are a good candidate for the procedure. After this has been assessed, the first stage of the dental implant procedure is to have the posts placed in your jawbone.
- They will start by numbing the area with local anaesthesia. They can also put you to sleep, depending on your level of anxiety and the number of implants being placed.
- Once you’re numb, they make small incisions in your gums to expose the bone. Then, they will drill small holes into your jaw bone to make space for the implants. After they have inserted the implants, they will close up the incisions with stitches.
- After the surgical procedure, you must wait for the implants to fuse with the jawbone. This length of healing varies individually and can take several months.
- Once the implant has successfully fused with your jawbone, you will have a second surgery to place the abutment, which is a small metal connector piece that attaches the implant to the dental prosthetic. In some cases, the abutment is placed along with the implants in one visit.
- After the abutment is placed, you need to wait for the area to heal.
- Once it has healed, you will have your final appointment to have the dental prosthetic placed. This can be done in one office visit or may require multiple visits depending on the type of dental prosthetic you are getting.
- After your final procedure, your dentist will provide you with aftercare instructions to maintain your implants. You may also need to return for follow-up checkups and appointments to ensure everything is healing properly.
How Are Dental Implants Made?
Dental implants are made in a dental laboratory. Crafting these metal posts starts with a long titanium or zirconium rod. Below is a step-by-step guide to how dental implants are usually made:
- They will insert the rod into a holding device called a lathe. The lathe will spin the rod at high speed while they use cutting tools to shape it into the desired implant size and shape.
- After the implant is the correct size and shape, they will remove it from the lathe and smooth out rough edges with hand files and other tools.
These newly cut implants will be taken to a vision measuring system
- involving a camera that takes pictures of the implants from different angles. They will then upload these pictures to a computer where they will be 3D printed. The 3D print will be used to create a mould of the implant. This mould will be used to create multiple copies of the implant out of metal.
- After the implants have been cast, they will be heat treated to make them stronger. They will go through an acid etching process, which roughens up the implant’s surface so that it can bond with bones and tissues better.
- Finally, they will be cleaned and sterilised before being sent to the dentist who ordered them.
Different Types of Dental Implants
There are three major types of dental implants, including:
These implants are the most common type, which is surgically placed into the jawbone. They’re usually made of titanium, and they look like small screws. Once the bone has grown around the implant, it will be attached to a metal post called an abutment, protruding through the gum tissue. This is where the artificial tooth will be attached.
These are placed on top of the jawbone but below the gums. They’re often used for people with thinning bones or who can’t wear traditional dentures due to the lack of bone. The metal frame of these implants will fuse with your jaw bone as it heals and grows around them. Once the frame is in place, they will attach posts to it, protruding through your gums. These posts will support your artificial teeth.
These implants are placed in the cheekbone, also known as the zygomatic bone. They’re usually used for people with severe bone loss in their upper jaw. This type of implant is longer and thicker than traditional dental implants. However, these types of implants are rarely used nowadays.
What Makes Dental Implants Different From Other Teeth Replacements?
Dental implants are different from other tooth replacement options in a few ways. Below is a summary of these differences with other procedures of the same purpose:
Dental Implants Vs. Dentures
You must take your removable dentures out and clean them every night or after every meal. While a denture adhesive can be used to put them in place, poorly-fitting dentures can still slip and slide around in your mouth, which can be embarrassing and make it difficult to eat and speak. Dentures also don’t do anything to help the bone that’s underneath them from deteriorating. In addition, they can become loose over time and need to be replaced every 5-7 years.
On the contrary, dental implants have a stable and secure position in the mouth. They look and feel like your real teeth, allowing you to eat and speak normally without worrying about them slipping or falling out. Dental implants also help preserve the bone underneath them, preventing deterioration. They are also very durable, lasting an average of 25 years with proper care.
Dental Implants Vs. Bridge
Dental bridges are commonly made from ceramic, metal, or a combination of the two. They consist of one or more false teeth held in place by crowns that cover your natural teeth on either side of the gap. They can be used to replace missing teeth, but bridges are more prone to tooth decay and cavities in the surrounding teeth because they’re difficult to clean.
Also, they permanently alter healthy teeth adjacent to the missing tooth since they must be filed down for the bridge to fit properly. Finally, because bridges rely on your natural teeth for support, they may not be an option if those teeth are damaged, decayed, or have gum disease.
Dental implants are also made of metal posts, but they’re placed directly into your jawbone, which means they can last longer than bridges. Then the artificial teeth are attached to the posts. Dental implants are stronger and more durable than bridges, and they don’t put any extra stress on the surrounding teeth.
Dental Implants Vs. Dental Crowns
Crowns are placed on top of your existing teeth to cover them and improve their appearance. However, plaque and bacteria can build up around the margin where the crown meets your tooth. In addition, they can also wear and tear over time, needing to be replaced more often.
On the other hand, dental implants are placed directly into your jawbone, and the artificial tooth is attached to it. You can care for them just like your natural teeth—by brushing and flossing regularly. This way, there is less chance for bacteria and plaque to accumulate, minimising your risk for decay.
Dental implants are also more durable than crowns.
How Can You Prepare For Your Surgery?
While your dentist is responsible for the surgical procedures involved in dental implant surgery, you play a vital role in its success. The following are some of the things you can do to prepare for the process:
- Take the pre-operative medications, such as antibiotics, before your surgery as prescribed. Doing so can help reduce the risk of infection and the chances of complications.
- Smoking can significantly impact your implant’s success and impair healing. Your dentist may recommend you quit smoking altogether. If you can’t, you should at least refrain from smoking a week before your surgery and two months after, when bone healing has progressed.
- Make sure to brush and floss your teeth regularly before the surgery.
- If you’re receiving sedatives, you may be required to fast for 8 to 12 hours before surgery. Your dentist will discuss if this is necessary this during your initial consultation.
- Sleep well and get enough rest the night before your surgery.
- Buy whatever post-op medications you need to take because you may not have time to go out and get them after the surgery.
- After each procedure, you may experience swelling and pain, so arrange some days off beforehand to allow rest and healing.
- Have someone drive you home after the surgery and stay with you for at least 24 hours because you will be groggy if you will be receiving a sedative.
- Stock up on smooth or liquid foods, such as smoothies, yoghurt, ice cream, etc. So as not to damage the surgical site, you will be asked to eat only these types of food for a few days after your procedure.
What Is Involved In Getting A Dental Implant?
A dental implant operation is usually an outpatient procedure with multiple processes that may involve the following:
Patient Assessment and Diagnostic Records Taking
Before everything else, your dentist needs to confirm that you are a good candidate for dental implants. They will ask about your overall health, dental health and perform an examination of your mouth. After, they will assess your jaw bone structure and the position of your teeth, nerves and sinuses during your implant consultation. This can be done through x-rays or by taking 3D scans. The information they gain will help them determine whether you can receive dental implants as well as the best placement for them. They will also take images of your face and teeth.
All of these will be used to develop a 3D model of your teeth and jawbone, which they will use as a guide during the surgery.
Damaged Tooth Removal
Your dentist will extract any damaged or decayed teeth before anything else. You will be under local anaesthesia, which numbs the area around your mouth. If you have healthy teeth, they will be left intact.
If your jaw bone is not thick enough or is of poor quality and you still want to have dental implants, you may need a bone grafting procedure. This is because the dental implant needs a strong foundation of bone to support it. When you chew, there is a lot of force put on your teeth, and the implant needs to be able to withstand this force. If it doesn’t, your implants may fail.
Bone grafting is a procedure whereby bone is taken from another part of your body or from a donor and transplanted to your jawbone. This will help build up the bone to support the dental implants. After the bone graft has had time to heal, usually around 3 to 6 months, you can have dental implant surgery.
Placement Of The Implant
This is a crucial step in the process because it will determine the success of your surgery. The placement of the implant must be done with precision so that it can fuse with your jawbone and provide support for your new tooth. Local anaesthesia will be used to numb the area around your mouth during this step. You may also be given sedatives to help you relax during the surgery. The type of sedative will be determined by your dentist and will depend on your medical history, how complex the procedure is, and your level of anxiety.
After the surgical procedure, you may experience swelling and bruising around your mouth, which will subside after a few days. You may also have some pain and discomfort, which can be managed with medication. It’s important to follow your dentist’s instructions this period, so you don’t damage your implant.
For a few to several months, you will wait for the implant to fuse with your jawbone. This varies individually, and during this time, you will have a temporary tooth in place. Once the healing is complete, you will return to have your abutment inserted, if necessary, or your prosthetic tooth placed.
Artificial Tooth Placement
The final step is to put your new tooth on the implant. This can be done with a denture, bridge, or crown. The type of tooth you get will depend on the location of the implant and how many teeth you are missing. Your new tooth will look and feel like your natural teeth, with the right size and colour.
With your prosthetic tooth or teeth in place, you can now enjoy eating, smiling, and talking as you once did. However, you will need to visit your dentist for follow-up and regular checkups. The frequency of these appointments depends on the health of your mouth, teeth, gums, as well as your oral hygiene habits. The purpose of these visits is to check on your dental condition, monitor your dental implants and ensure that everything is going well
What Risks Come With Getting Dental Implants?
While dental implants are generally safe, there are still potential risks that you may experience:
- Failure of Osseointegration
Osseointegration is when the implant has fused with your jawbone. This is crucial for the success of your surgery because if the implant does not fuse with the bone, it will not be able to support your new tooth.The success rate of osseointegration is usually around 98.9% under sterile conditions and 98.2% in clean conditions, but there is still a small chance that it may fail.
- Post-Operative Infection
Dental implant surgery patients may develop an infection after placing the implant. These may occur from bacteria in your mouth or bacteria that enter the implant site during surgery or during your healing period. The risk of infection is usually low, but it is still something to be aware of.This condition also affects the success rate of osseointegration, as the fusion between the implant and bone may not occur if an infection is present.
- Surrounding Teeth, Nerve, Tissues and Blood Vessels DamageThere is also a small risk that the dental implant surgery may damage the surrounding teeth, nerves, tissues, and blood vessels.
If the implant is placed so near the nerves in your jaw, you may experience numbness or tingling in your teeth, gums, lips or chin. This is usually a temporary condition that will resolve once the nerves have healed.
In rare cases, the implant may also damage the blood vessels in your jaw, which can lead to bruising and swelling.
- Gum Recession
Patients may sometimes notice that their gums start receding after dental implants. This is because the gum tissue is not as adapted around the implant as it is around your natural teeth.
This may cause the implant to become exposed and increase your risk of developing an infection.
- Sinus Problems
In very rare cases, dental implants may also cause sinus problems in some patients. This is because the implant can press on the sinuses, which are located behind your cheeks. This may cause pain and pressure in the sinuses, as well as difficulty breathing.
- Rejection Of Implants
In rare cases, your body may reject the implant by failing to fuse with the bone. This usually occurs because of an allergic reaction to the metal or because your body does not have enough minerals to support the implant. This usually occurs because of an allergic reaction to the metal or because your body detects the implant as a foreign object. If this happens, you may experience pain, swelling, and inflammation at the surgical site
What Impacts Dental Implant Surgery Success?
There are some factors affecting your implant’s success, including:
Smoking can restrict blood flow to the gums, slowing the healing process, which can cause implant failure. Some studies suggest that smokers getting dental implants can have a failure rate of up to 20%.
While smoking doesn’t make you ineligible for the procedure, your outcome is better if you avoid consuming tobacco products one week before your surgery and two months after. If possible, consider quitting it altogether.
- Gum Disease
Gum disease can also affect dental implants and cause them to fail. This is because the infection can damage the bone around the implant, making it difficult for the implant to fuse with the bone.
If you have gum disease, your dentist will likely manage it before placing the implant to improve your chances of success.
- Insufficient Jaw Bone
This means there isn’t enough bone in the jaw to support an implant. Bone loss can occur from osteoporosis—a condition that causes the bones to become weak and fragile. Severe gum disease may also result in bone loss in your mouth. Still you may still be eligible for dental implants through bone grafting procedures.
- Medical Conditions
Some medical conditions, such as diabetes, can cause dental implant failure as it can interfere with the healing process, most likely because of a higher chance of complications. Slow healing prevents osseointegration.
Other conditions, such as autoimmune diseases, can also make it more difficult for your body to accept the implant. This is because these conditions cause your body to attack the implant as if it were a foreign object.
In addition, some medications can make it difficult for your body to accept an implant because they suppress your immune system. A 2016 research found that heartburn medications may reduce new bone growth, affecting how an implant fuses with the jaw bone.
Your dentist will most likely ask about your medical history before placing an implant and may not recommend the procedure if you have certain medical conditions or are taking certain medications that could interfere with the healing process.
- Your Dentist’s Or Surgeon’s Experience
Not all dental professionals are trained equally. The more experience your dentist or dental surgeon has in this procedure, the higher your chances of success. They’ve likely seen and treated a wide variety of cases, so they know what to expect and how to deal with complications if they arise.
- Poor Dental Maintenance
Your implant is more likely to fail if you’re not committed to maintaining good dental care. This is because plaque and tartar can build up around the implant, which can cause gum disease, bone loss, and infection.
How Do I Care For My Dental Implants?
There are a number of measures you should take to care for your dental implants to help prevent any complications:
- Practise good oral hygiene.
Reduce your risk of complications by brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing once per day to remove plaque or bacteria. Consider using an antibacterial mouthwash to help keep your mouth clean. For hard-to-reach places, use a nylon-coated interdental brush.
- See your dentist regularly.
You must set a consistent schedule to visit your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups, as they will be able to monitor the health of your implants and make sure that they are still fused with your jawbone.
- Avoid chewing hard food.
You should avoid chewing hard foods, as this may damage your dental implants or loosen them from the bone. Stick to easy-to-chew soft foods.
- Quit smoking.
As mentioned, smoking can increase your risk of developing an infection and impede healing, so it is important to consider quitting if you are a smoker so that your implants will have a higher success rate.
- Avoid clenching or grinding your teeth. Clenching or grinding can damage dental implants or loosen them from the bone. If you have this habit, you may need to wear a mouthguard to protect them.
How Much Do Dental Implants Cost?
Dental implant treatment costs vary depending on a few factors, such as the type of implant you choose, the number of implants you need, and where you live.
But generally, the average cost of a single dental implant ranges from $3,000 to $5,000 per tooth. This can be higher if you require other procedures, such as sinus lift or bone graft, which can be up to \$11,500 for a single implant.
Why Are Dental Implants Expensive?
These dental treatments can be expensive because they are complex procedures requiring a lot of training and experience. They are made from high-quality materials, such as titanium, which is strong and durable. Also, other necessary procedures, such as extractions, bone grafting, etc., add to the total cost.
Dental implants are one of the popular treatment options for replacing missing teeth, as they are strong and durable, lasting more than two decades with proper care. But there are some risks associated with this procedure, such as infection, nerve damage, and gum recession. While implants are a great option for many people, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks before deciding.
Also, you should note that this procedure is not for everybody. In general, you need to have good oral health and be committed to taking care of your implants to reduce the risks.
If you are considering dental implants, contact us at 08 6185 0200 to schedule a consultation with our team. The dentists at Ellen Stirling Dental have been performing dental implants for several years, utilising our state-of-the-art equipment and tools to provide favourable outcomes. During your first consultation, your dentist will examine your mouth, teeth and gums to ensure that you are a good candidate for the procedure. We will also go over the cost of dental implants and what to expect during the surgery so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not this is the right treatment for you. Ultimately, we would be more than happy to discuss your unique needs and answer any questions you may have.