Dental implants are small inserts, which are surgically placed in the jawbone beneath the gums. Commonly known as teeth implants, most dental implants available today are in the shape of screws, blades or frames. Once the dental implantologist determines that the implant has firmly integrated with the jawbone, he or she will mount replacement teeth, together with abutments, onto them.
How do they work?
Dental implants are made from biocompatible materials like titanium, and have tiny ridges and pits on their surface. This allows the bone to grow so closely around an implant, that it effectively adheres to it, providing a stable support for artificial teeth. Bridges or fixed dentures that are attached to teeth implants do not move around in the mouth, enabling patients to speak and eat comfortably.
To receive teeth implant treatment, a patient needs to possess healthy gums and adequate jawbone to support the implant. In addition, they should also be in good general health. While there is no upper age limit for dental implant treatment, the lower age limit is around 15 to 17 years, to allow for the jawbone to fully develop.
Below are two of the most common types of dental implant systems usually advised by most implant dentists:
- Endosteal implants: These teeth implants are directly placed into the jawbone, after drilling a pilot hole. After a healing period of a few months, abutments together with prosthetic teeth are loaded onto the implant.
- Subperiosteal dental implants: These implants consist of a metal frame that is placed over the jawbone, just below the gum tissue. As the bone and gums heal, the frame gets fixed to the jawbone. After healing is complete, artificial teeth are mounted to the frame posts that protrude from the gums.
After a patient undergoes dental implant treatment, it is important that they practice meticulous oral hygiene and visit their dentist regularly, to ensure the long-term success of their implants.
Downtime for Dental Implant Treatments
Dental implant treatments are generally considered to be more complicated than traditional tooth restoration procedures like dental bridges, with the downtime varying from patient to patient. Some common factors on which the downtime may depend are:
- The density of the jawbone.
- General physical condition of the patient.
- The position of the missing tooth in the mouth (front or back).
The actual process of inserting dental implants may not take much time, but the period for planning, healing and recovery usually takes a few months. For an average patient, a tentative time-table might look like this:
- Planning: During this stage the dental implantologist conducts a detailed evaluation of a patient’s oral condition. This process is generally completed in around a month.
- Insertion of the Implant: The duration of this stage varies from one to three days, depending on the number of teeth implants to be fitted in the jaw. This stage involves the drilling of a tiny hole in the jawbone, into which an implant is embedded, and left to heal.
- Healing: This could take anywhere between three to six months, depending on the general health and healing ability of a patient. During this process the bone grows closely around the teeth implants, effectively adhering to the metal.
- Final reconstruction: Depending on the number of prosthetic teeth to be fitted, this process could take between one to three days.
If your missing teeth are making you uncomfortable, the best thing to do is to visit a good cosmetic dentist, who will advise you about which types of dental implants would be the best for you, as well as assess your suitability for the treatment.