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  • Writer's pictureSusan Leung

The Complete Guide to Dental Implants

dental implant example

Dental implants may be right for you, if you would like your new artificial teeth to be permanently fixed inside your mouth, rather than having dentures that can be removed at any time. If you'd like your new teeth to feel just like your old ones, dental implants are likely a good option for you. As always however, it is necessary to consult with a dental professional before making any decisions.

What are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are a fantastic solution for achieving natural-looking and feeling tooth replacements. Although they come at a higher cost compared to other options, choosing dental implants to secure your teeth ensures that your new smile feels just like your own natural teeth.

Dental implants provide a different experience from standard dentures. They keep your new teeth firmly in place, allowing for a comfortable fit that doesn't shift. With implants, the worry of your teeth slipping at an inconvenient moment while talking or eating is eliminated completely.

The implant process involves the surgical placement of titanium anchors into the jawbone. These anchors serve as a secure connection for the dentures, creating a robust foundation for your artificial teeth. This foundation can last a lifetime with proper care, ensuring that nobody ever sees your gums, because with dental implants, you don't have to leave your teeth on the nightstand before bed.

Dental Implants or Removeable Dentures?

When considering tooth replacement, the most simple choice is removable dentures. While these are easy to maintain and can be a cost-effective solution that does not require surgery, they present their own challenges. Especially if your goal is to forget about wearing dentures altogether. For one, if your dentures are not secured by dental implants, they can easily slip while eating or talking, causing discomfort and potential embarrassment. Another drawback to standard dentures is that your actual jawbone gets stimulated much less, which can lead to the jawbone atrophying over time, as there is not as much resistance placed on the bone. Dental implants on the other hand, provide maximum comfort and stability, by anchoring the teeth in a way that ensures they do not move while chewing, and fit comfortably in the correct spot within your mouth. They also ensure that your jawbone is provided with adequate pressure throughout the day that prevents the bone from weakening over time.

The 5 Steps in the Dental Implant Process

  1. Consultation - Of course, the first step in this process is consulting with a dental professional. Your teeth will be evaluated through a series of x-ray scans to determine the proper solution for you. The dental surgeon will create a personalized plan tailored to your specific needs and desires, and walk determine a roadmap for getting you to the goals you have for your new smile.

  2. Extraction and Surgical Implantation - If you still have teeth that need to be removed, the surgeon will extract these teeth first. Once that has been completed, the process of installing the dental implants can begin. First, an incision is made on the gum, in order to access the jawbone underneath. A hole is then drilled into the jawbone, where a titanium anchor will be inserted. The surgeon will then stitch the gum up to close the wound, and allow healing to begin.

  3. Osseointegration - The longest part of the process, is allowing osseointegration to take place. Usually, the osseointegration process needs about 3 months in total to complete. This is essentially allowing your jawbone to heal around the dental implant, securing it in place, as the implant fuses into the bone to create a strong connection and foundation for your artificial teeth.

  4. Abutment Placement - Once the dental implants have integrated into the jawbone, a small connector called an abutment is placed onto the implant. This is done via a minor surgery, where yet another small incision is made into the gums, in order to access the base of the implant.

  5. Final Replacement - Once the dental implants and their respective abutments have all healed and set properly into the jawbone, the denturists may now start the process of fabricating your new set of dentures. Beginning by taking a full impression of your mouth, they will create a new set of artificial teeth that are fully customized to you, and made to look just like natural teeth. These new teeth will then be set upon the dental implants, and you can enjoy a brand new smile that is permanent and comfortable.

Do I Have to be Awake for my Dental Implant Procedure?

In short, no. Generally though, the process is done under local anaesthetic only as it is much more cost effective, and the process is not incredibly invasive or painful. In cases where the patient is extremely anxious however, they can be allowed to be placed under global anaesthesia, albeit at a much higher cost to them.

What are the Potential Risks and Complications with Dental Implants?

The process of getting dental implants for your new dentures is very safe, and usually goes smoothly and without complication. As with any medical procedure however, it does come with a set of risks that are important to be aware of so that steps can be taken in order to mitigate the chances of any complications arising.

There are two categories of risks; risks that can arise during surgery, and risks that can arise after the surgery has been completed.

Risks During Surgery

  1.  It is possible that an imperfectly executed surgery can result in nerve damage, this is exceedingly rare, and in most cases only results in minor changes in the sensations around the mouth that typically goes away over time. It is possible however, for this sort of damage to be long lasting.

  2. It is also possible to have sinus complications, usually in cases when getting dental implants on the upper portion of the mouth.

These risks are up to your dental surgeon to mitigate, and a skilled denturist will be able to reduce the risk of these complications to nearly zero. As such, provided you are working with a competent denturist like Susan at West Coast Dentures, you shouldn't have to worry about these issues at all.

Risks After Surgery

  1. Osseointegration issues can happen if the dental implants fail to properly fuse with your jawbone, and can lead to movement of the implants, discomfort, or implant failure. Smoking, poor bone quality, and certain health conditions such as osteoporosis or diabetes could impact the ability for your body to heal properly in a way that allows the dental implants to fuse strongly to the jawbone. Your denturist will assess your overall health and examine you for any of these potential risks in order to mitigate the chances of the osseointegration process going awry.

  2. Infection is a main concern, as with any surgery. It can easily be mitigated against with proper care and with preventative antibiotics, but it is still important to keep an eye out for the warning signs of an infection so that you can notify your denturist as soon as possible if you suspect your gums have become infected. Keep an eye out for any redness or swelling that appears after the initial inflammation from the procedure has subsided. Persistent bad breath, or foul tastes in your mouth, even after brushing and rinsing, can be a sign on an advancing infection. In severe cases, you may develop a fever, or notice white spots or ulcers that don't seem to heal around your gums.

3 Simple Steps to Avoid Complications with Dental Implants

Once you have gotten your new dentures and they have been secured in place with dental implants, it is important to care for your new smile during the healing process to avoid the potential complications outlines above.

  1. Brushing & Flossing - Brush your teeth twice daily with a soft bristled toothbrush, taking care to be gentle while doing this to avoid irritating the healing tissue. Floss with implant-specific floss that your denturist will recommend to you, and be careful not to cut the gums while you are flossing.

  2. Preventing Infection - Your denturist will likely prescribe you with a preventative antibiotic that will prevent infection from occurring. You should make sure that you take these antibiotics regularly in accordance with the schedule that will be provided to you, and also be sure to take them for as long as you are told to, even if it seems like everything is healing properly and you feel good. Rinse your mouth with an antimicrobial mouthwash after each meal and after brushing to prevent the growth of bacteria that could potentially cause infection within the healing tissue around your gums. Avoid smoking, as this can greatly increase your chances of contracting an infection that could lead to serious complications.

  3. Diet - While you are healing, it is best to eat only soft food for the first few weeks, to ensure that there is no unnecessary pressure placed on your gums that could cause the healing tissue to tear again. Avoid any foods that could irritate the tissue, such as spicy dishes, or anything high in acidity. Make sure to drink lots of water to keep your mouth clear of any food debris, and ensure your body is sufficiently hydrated so that it can heal in an efficient manner.

Do I Have any Coverage Options?

You may be eligible for full or partial coverage on your dental implants. Here's a complete article outlining the new Canadian Dental Coverage Plan.

What Should I Decide?

In conclusion, getting dental implants is definitely the choice to make if you are looking to have new teeth that are permanent, and comfortable. As always in health related endeavors though, be sure to consult with a professional before making a decision. Here at West Coast Dentures we will be able to provide you with that expert advice, and here's a review from one of our happy customers to prove it:

"My whole face and smile has changed for the better. They look so real. I am so so so very happy with my dentures. Life will be so much better"

I would give 100 stars if I could. My dentures were 15+ years old and very poorly made . When I would smile all anyone could see was gums. I finally have my new dentures and I couldn't be any happier. My whole face and smile has changed for the better. They look so real. I am so so so very happy with my dentures. Life will be so much better . I'm just so very pleased and I would recommend Susan Leung to everybody. 100/100. . On top of everything she is so nice and welcoming - Raylene Shiminousky

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