Dental implants explained: procedure, recovery and things to consider

Dental medicine has evolved a lot in the past few years and treatments that were once considered too good to be true have now become mainstream. Thanks to preventive care, awareness campaigns, innovative oral hygiene products and the rise of minimally invasive procedures, the average person can maintain a beautiful smile without much money or pain. However, there are cases when tooth loss cannot be stopped. Sometimes, it occurs because of advanced tooth decay or gum disease; other times, it is caused by an injury. No matter the reason why a tooth might fall off, dental implants are a modern solution to this problem and an excellent alternative to bridges and dentures.

The benefits of dental implants are clear; when done by a professional dentist, they integrate seamlessly in the oral cavity and have a natural appearance. Compared to bridges and dentures, they feel much more comfortable, last for years and don’t need to be removed every night. And yet, despite all these benefits, some people still avoid dental implants, usually because they imagine the procedure to be risky and complicated.  However, this belief is based on myths, not facts. In reality, dental implants are an effective procedure with a high success rate and the simplest way to deal with tooth loss out of all options available today.

Dental implant procedure – how does it work?

Before anything else, it’s important to mention that dental implants have a 98% success rate. Complications are very rare and, provided that they are properly cared for, implants will last for a lifetime. The procedure is quite straight-forward and always involves a customised treatment plan:

  • Before surgery, a prosthodontist or a general dentist at Birchgrove Dental will make a model of your oral cavity, in order to establish the exact shape and size of your needed tooth. Moreover, they will take X-rays to see if you have enough bone to sustain the implant.
  • Implant placement. In this part of the procedure, only the titanium metal implant will be placed in the jaw, so that your gums have time to heal. This step is generally pain-free and your doctor might also place a temporary crown there until the next step.
  • Permanent crown placement. After the gum and bone have healed, the specialist will move on to the final step, which is permanent crown placement. This is usually done about five months after the implant placement, but, if you have had bone grafting done, then you could wait for nine months or more.

Recovery time after dental implant surgery

Dental implant surgery has a high success rate and, when done by a professional oral surgeon who uses state of the art equipment, you can expect a low risk of complications. However, dental implants are a surgical procedure, so you should expect some downtime and physical discomfort before you can get back to your normal life. Here are some things you should know about recovery:

  • Immediately after surgery, your gums and face will be swollen
  • Bruising can also appear around the affected area
  • Soreness around the implant
  • Slight bleeding

These signs are most uncomfortable in the days after the surgery and you should start feeling better in a couple of days. If swelling, pain or bleeding don’t go down or get worse, you should come back to your dentists for a painkiller or antibiotics prescription.

Nowadays, surgeons use dissolvable stiches, so you don’t have to come back to have them removed, but you might still be called in for a check-up to see how the implant is healing.

To air recovery and prevent injuries, you are advised to eat only soft, liquid foods for a while, such as soup, smoothies or mashed potatoes.

Things to consider about dental implants

As advanced as dental implants might be, some unhealthy habits can lead to complications. For example, if you smoke in weeks following surgery, which are critical for healthy recovery, there is a chance of the crown to fail to fuse with the implant. In other words, the implant will fail. So, if you are a smoker, it’s best that you quit, at least for the months required for recovery.

Another thing to consider is that dental implants require as much attention and care as your natural teeth. On the contrary, you have to maintain an excellent oral hygiene, brush your teeth twice a day, use mouthwash and floss. This last step is very important, because you want to prevent food remains around the implant. In addition to floss, you should also invest in an interdental brush to prevent plaque.

Many people who are weighing the pros and cons of dental implants are particularly concerned about their durability and, more importantly, their financial benefits. After all, having a dental implant is more expensive than other tooth replacement options, so they want to know if the investment is worth it. The answer is yes. Not only are dental implants natural looking, but they also last more. Whereas dentures slip and cause bone loss in the long run, dental implants integrate seamlessly in your oral cavity and in time you will even forget that they are not natural. Also, even they are more expensive, they do not need replacement, so in the long run you aren’t paying more than on dentures and bridges.

Last, but not least, dental implants benefit your oral health thanks to the way they “trick” your jaw into thinking you have an actual tooth there. Other tooth replacement options only provide a surface solution, they do not replace the missing root. As a result, the bone around the affected area will start losing mass and density. But, in the case of dental implants, the titanium implant acts just like a root, so tissue still grows and regenerates around it. This means that the jawbone will not deteriorate in time, thus preventing further oral health issues.

Needless to say, all the benefits of dental implants only apply if done by a professional oral surgeon, so make sure you choose a top rated dental clinic.