Most dental implant surgery procedures are performed in the dentist’s office and occasionally in a hospital setting. Local anesthesia is usually adequate for these out-patient procedures but various other forms of patient sedation (such as nitrous oxide, and oral/or intravenous sedation) may also be used. Adjunctive surgical procedures, such as bone augmentation, may be performed as separate procedures or at the same time as implant placement. Each surgical procedure is different depending on the clinical situation as well as the preferences of the patient and dentist / surgeon.
Prerequisites to Dental Implants
There are no major obstacles to having dental implants placed. You are required to have a healthy jaws and gingiva, which most people do have. You should have no major periodontal and dental problems and your health in general should be good. You are advised against smoking, as it can contribute to failure of dental implants. Patients who suffer from osteoporosis or have used steroids have a higher risk of failure. The risk is higher because there is a higher chance the implant won’t osseointegrate, which is necessary for the procedure to succeed.
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The procedure & Aftercare
The implants are usually placed in a single session. This, however, doesn’t mean everything is over, as you need to wait for the implant to osseointegrate. If it doesn’t, it is considered to have failed.
Still, it doesn’t mean you’ll have to live without a tooth for the whole time. A temporary crown can be placed, and with the newest technology sometimes both the implant and the crown are placed at the same time. Temporary crowns serve the purpose of shaping your gums for your new, permanent tooth. Permanent crowns are custom-made and look exactly like your natural teeth. They function just as well.
After the procedure, you might experience some discomfort. It is usually transient and benign. Some experience swelling of gums and face on the side where the implant was placed, and other experience minor bruising and bleeding. It generally goes away on its own, but you may take some pain medications to relieve you of discomfort. Your dentist can prescribe them for you.
Of course, as with everything, proper oral hygiene habits are a must. Dental implants fail very, very rarely, and if they do, it’s mostly because of bad hygiene or bad dentistry. Both are easily preventable. Maintain diligent dental health habits – brush twice a day, floss and use fluoride toothpaste. Take care when flossing though, as there is increased blood flow around the implant. Visit your dentist regularly, at least once a year and preferably once every six months and you should be all set. Regarding bad dentistry, go to a dentist you feel comfortable with. You can ask them for some before and after images to see the real results. Communication is key with procedures such as this one.
Dental implants last for over 40 (forty!) years when cared for properly. While they look like an expensive solution, since they last for so long it actually works out better than other solutions. It certainly is the most hassle-free procedure!