Dental implants represent one of the more permanent solutions for tooth loss. Patients should know what to expect from the procedure so let's look at the three most important points.
A person's mouth needs to be ready for implants. Given that tooth loss is often associated with gum disease and deep cavities, a dental implant provider will want to know that a patient's issues are under control before doing more work. This may include performing additional tooth extractions, cleaning any remaining healthy teeth, and gum disease treatment with prescription mouthwash and antibiotics.
Unsurprisingly, the doctor will also want to see X-rays of the recipient's mouth before and after the completion of this other work. They will want to see that the bones between the jaw and the gums are in good shape because that area is where the implanted posts will go.
Notably, not all patients are good candidates for dental implants. If a person lacks sufficient bone structure to provide support, a dental implant provider may encourage them to consider alternative dentures or bridges. Also, some patients may need to make significant progress if they're suffering from advanced periodontal disease.
Dental implants involve the placement of medical-grade metallic posts into the dental bone. These posts are slightly porous to encourage the bone to grow into implants and provide a solid base. Each set of artificial teeth is an arch that straddles two posts. If you're getting an implant bridge, the arch might stretch from one post to a healthy tooth where it will attach.
The most aggressive implant procedures require four arches. This would replace all of the upper and lower teeth. Other configurations may be as limited as a single post to replace a single tooth. A doctor will make a small incision in the gums and may need to drill tiny holes in the dental bones to install the posts.
Generally, doctors refrain from doing the entire mouth at once. They will usually do dental implants on the left or right side and then alternate to the other during a second procedure. This reduces the amount of bleeding and healing that a patient might have to endure in one session.
Patients often need OTC pain relief medications, and some may require antibiotics after the procedure. Your doctor will schedule follow-up visits to see how well your implants are doing. They may also provide you with temporary arches until the swelling goes down and then fit you for permanent ones several weeks later.
Speak to a dentist to learn more about dental implants.