When you have lost a tooth or teeth, it can be hard to regain your confidence, especially if it was a tooth at the front.
Not only does a missing tooth create an instant aesthetic problem for most people, but it can also impact on your ability to bite and chew food correctly. While this may not sound too problematic, it can lead to incorrect chewing, gastrointestinal issues and the additional plaque that builds up due to the gap can cause gum disease and tooth decay, not good!
Of course, you could opt for dentures or a fitted bridge, but these often present with the additional issues of movement, ulcers on the gums and, once again, correct chewing technique.
But there is a way to solve all of these issues simply; with the fitting of a dental implant. In this introductory guide, oral implants will be explored in jargon-free language, allowing you to determine if they are the right solution for you.
What are they?
An oral implant physically resembles a screw made from titanium.
Placed into the jaw, they fuse to the bone over a period of 3-6 months after which, a prosthetic tooth or teeth can be affixed to them. With the implant physically attached to your jaw, this allows you to have a stronger bite and enables you to widen your range of foods. And, of course, having a newly affixed, colour-matched tooth will obviously improve your smile too.
How they are fitted
Despite all of the advantages that they offer, many patients worry about having oral implants fitted.
Yes, the fitting may sound uncomfortable, but you must remember that your dentist will ensure you are numbed throughout the entire process. A small incision is made in the gum line and it is peeled back to expose the bone. Using a small drill, a hole is made into the jaw and the implant is fitted. Depending on how many are required, you can expect a single implant to take up to 2 hours to fit, so your dentist may try to spread this fitting process over several sessions.
Once the implants are fitted, they need to fuse to the bone.
To ensure that this goes off without a hitch, it is wise to avoid eating hard or crunchy foods for the first 2 weeks post-procedure; pressure on the implant can cause it to move or come loose. Be sure to stay in touch with your dentist so they can provide you with advice on this.
For regular endosteal implants to be successfully fitted and fused, you and your dentist must first discuss any gum disease or illnesses that can heighten the chance of implant failure. Some of these include osteoporosis, autoimmune disorders, diabetes and oral or bone cancers.
Provided that you do not smoke or drink excessively and stay free of periodontal issues, your oral implants should last for almost the rest of your life! Now that’s something to smile about!
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.