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Dental implants: What you need to know

Dental implants

Dental implants can be used to fill in missing teeth that were lost due to decay, injury or to fill large gaps between teeth. They are artificial dental devices that are installed for a more permanent option as compared to dentures or dental bridges.

The dental implant consists of 3 parts:

1 the titanium screw that inserted into your bone,
2 the abutment, made of titanium, that is the top of the screw which is hidden under the crown
3 The dental crown, mad of porcelain or metal that looks like a normal tooth.

If a patient lack enough bone for the screw to connect, an additional procedure of bone grafting is needed prior to starting the dental implant procedure.

Why the need for this?

In time the bone and the structure of the face may change. This can lead to more loss of more teeth. Dental bridges and dentures are normally used, but dental implants are far superior and functional as they will not fall out like dentures can.

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Healing times

The stitches are usually left in place for about seven to ten days. After this time period the gum tissue will have healed sufficiently that they can be removed, but this can be a very painless procedure. However, self-dissolving stitches that do not require removal are typically used.

This is also the most important stage in the recovery time for dental implant surgery, that of the first two weeks after surgery. During this time, you should eat soft foods, refrain from smoking, and continue rinsing with salt water or oral rinse several times a day. Taking these steps will avoid irritating the extraction site and minimize the risk of infection. Still, once the initial healing has taken place then implants will continue to bond with the bone. In some cases the implants can be loaded immediately, however more typically a crown or bridgework will be performed some 2 – 6 months after implant placement. This depends on the individual case, the quality of the patient’s bone and whether any grafting has been required.

Follow-up appointments with your dentist will be vital to monitoring your progress and how the implant is healing or bonding to your own bone.

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Complications

Biocompatibility testing is normally not done prior to doing an implant. A concern is that there is a risk that autoimmune diseases can be aggravated or even initiated by metal implants as the body reacts to the metal used.

There is also the fear that oral galvanism can start. This is when you place two dissimilar metals in your mouth. You basically produce a battery that will serve to drive the ions of the metals out of the metal into your mouth and also generate electricity. This is not noticeable, but tiny electrical currents are foundational to the way your body operates biologically, and when you bring together a foreign source of electricity, especially one that is always there, you can introduce imbalances that can add to health problems. More so, this galvanic toxicity is created when the metal in your mouth responds with your saliva can over-stimulate your brain.

Symptoms of galvanic toxicity may include:

• A metal taste in your mouth
• A sensation of an electric charge when using metal utensils
• Chronic insomnia.

Other complications of dental implants may include:

• Infection at the implant site
• Nerve damage, which can cause pain, numbness or tingling in your natural teeth, gums, lips or chin
• Injury or damage to surrounding structures, such as other teeth or blood vessels
• Sinus problems, when dental implants placed in the upper jaw protrude into one of your sinus cavities.

A proper and cleared medical history and a dentist with a good experience in dental implants can limit the risks and complications of this sort of procedure. But like any surgery, dental implant surgery poses some health risks. Luckily the problems are rare, and when they do occur they are usually minor and easily treated by your dentist. Which is also why regular follow-up appointments are important to check the progress of the healing and how your body is reacting to the implants.

Alternatives

If you have large gaps between your teeth, braces should be your first approach. Braces can be used to reduce the gaps, but if that is not an option then implants can be used to fill these gaps.

About Jacques Dippenaar

Jacques is an influential health blogger and researcher helping readers explore interesting facts and information.

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