Dental Implants Surgical Procedures

What Are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are an increasingly popular option being offered by UK dentists in order to replace missing teeth. An implant is essentially a small screw which resembles a rod and which can be used to hold a false tooth in place permanently. In this respect they can be defined as a replacement root and can be used either to hold an individual tooth in place, or several teeth. Once installed a process called "osseointegration" can take place, whereby the implant fuses with the jawbone of the patient.

Different Types Of Implants

dental implants can replace mussing teeth
As with most things, there are various types of implant available; including Nobel Biocare, Intra-Lock and Straumann, have their advantages and disadvantages. It is best to ask your dentist, or specialist, which is preferable in his or her opinion, dependent upon the individual procedure required. There are also different types of implant; Root form implants (or Endosseous implants) are the most popular type of implant. These involve insertion of the implant directly into the jawbone and is available in two forms: cylinder and screw. The procedure is suited to patients requiring single or multiple artificial teeth. Plate form implants are narrow metal plates which are inserted into the jawbone. They support multiple teeth and usually patients must wait for ossointegration to be completed before having their restorations implanted. The mini implant was originally conceived to be inserted as a temporary implant and then removed and replaced by a full sized implant. But they can be used as a useful type of implant in their own right; particularly as a replacement for small teeth or incisors. Like other implants they are inserted into the jawbone but because of their size osseointegration will not usually occur. They are most commonly used to stabilise the lower denture, and are most commonly used in treatment of older patients.

Preparation For The Procedure

Before undergoing the procedure your dentist will need to establish the structure of your mouth and positioning of your jawbone. This is done with a preliminary X-ray or CT scan. During the operation itself the patient is usually given only a local anaesthetic, although some more convoluted procedures will involve general anaesthetic.

The Procedure

The procedure itself involves incision into the gum and the drilling of a hole in the jawbone. The implant is inserted into said hole and the incision closed up. Once this has healed a secondary procedure may sometimes be necessary to uncover the gum above the implant in order to attach the teeth.

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In addition to the normal risks associated with undergoing dental surgery, such as the risks of infection or bleeding, there are other complications that can arise after having a dental implant procedure.

For example, you could experience swelling around the implant, which can cause pain and discomfort. To manage this, you can take over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen as needed. There are nerves that run to your lower jaw, and these supply the feeling to the lower jaw, lower teeth, lower gums, and bottom lip. If during the installation of the implant any of the nerves are damaged, you could experience tingling and numbness. Depending on the extent of the damage, this numbness can be either temporary or permanent. Prior to the procedure, your dentist will carry out X-rays and CT scans to determine the location of the nerves in your jawbone to diminish the risk of nerve damage occurring. Patients undergoing a dental implant procedure are also at risk of the jawbone failing to fuse with the implant, causing it to become loose. While not painful, this condition means that the implant will be rendered ineffective and unable to support false teeth. It may therefore be required to fit another implant instead.

Aftercare And Recovery

Once you have undergone your treatment, you will need to rest while the anaesthetic wears off. It is normal for it to take several hours before feeling returns to the area, and should you experience pain as it does, you can manage this with over-the-counter pain medication.

As this procedure is normally carried out on an outpatient basis, you can leave to recover at home as you feel ready, which is normally a few hours afterwards. If you have had a general anaesthestic, you will need to have someone drive you home, and ideally have someone remain with you for 24 hours after the treatment. This is because the anaesthetic can impair both your motor and reasoning skills, and so having someone around to ensure you don’t drive or make any important decisions is important. After having your dental implant surgery, you should abstain from eating hard foods for the first day or two, and stick to soft foods instead. You should also refrain from consuming hot food and drinks while your anaesthetic wears off, as you can accidentally burn your mouth.

It is important to keep your mouth clean by practicing good oral hygiene, such as regular brushing and flossing. To reduce the likelihood of your implant becoming infected, your dentist may also prescribe a course of antibiotics and an antiseptic mouthwash. You will have to attend frequent appointments in the months following your surgery to allow your dentist to monitor your recovery, and check for any signs of infection and/or complications. Once you have made a full recovery, your implants and teeth should feel and function as normal. Make sure to always follow the advice of your dentist when it comes to recovering from dental implant surgery.

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