Dental implants are practically the second best thing to real teeth, as over three million people in the United States alone have this type of treatment. Implants are designed to look and function like natural health, have a high success rate for dental retention, and they’re considered one of the best treatments for replacing missing and decaying teeth. As dental decay and gum disease increase in risk, people seek out longer-lasting sources for healthy teeth, many patients often wonder if the procedure is safe. The short answer is yes. Some of the best case results have come from using implants, and dental implants have been statistically observed and regulated to assure their safety.
The History and Stance on Dental Implants
Many would argue that the first instances of dental implants existed thousands of years ago, where ancient civilizations. Historically, people back in Ancient China and Egypt would attempt to replace missing teeth with precious metals and bamboo, using these materials as tooth replacements. However, it wasn’t until the 1930’s that the idea of replacing teeth with materials that mimic the structure of the implant began.
From there, the invention of the modern titanium implant came to pass when in 1952, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Per-Ingvar Branemark learned about osseointegration through an experiment with a rabbit femur, where he was unable to remove the pieces of titanium from the femur itself. Through further experimentation, he worked with the patient’s missing teeth using titanium as a placement post and found extremely positive results.
The process of developing titanium posts improved over the years to what we offer today. Today’s dental implants can be made with various metals and materials, including polymers, ceramics, and alternative metals like stainless steel, to improve the aesthetics and structure of the implant. But is the process itself safe? According to the FDA, there are many benefits to having implants, as they can restore aesthetic appearance, improve the ability to chew, help prevent the jawbone from shrinking due to bone loss, and preserve the surrounding bones and gums.
However, the FDA also outlines some risks that come with dental implants. Although dental implants have a 90-95% success rate because of their durability, all procedures come with a certain amount of risk. These risks include:
- Damage to the surrounding teeth during placement
- Injuries to the surrounding gums and tissues during surgery
- Abutment screw loosening causing a loose tooth sensation
- Tooth bite function not aligning properly, causing some form of inadequate function
- Implant body failure due to infection and delayed healing
- Untreated, periodontal diseases
- Numbness due to damage and nerve impingement
These risks can occur due to accidents, poor execution of implant surgery, and inadequate diagnosis and treatment of oral health conditions beforehand. In these cases, it can either be caused by faulty device implantation or poor medical intervention from the dentists or dental practice. It’s important to understand these risks when considering dental implants, but as consistent studies work to improve the function of dental implants, dentists that perform and specialize in implant surgery need to have the qualifications and experience to protect their patients against these risks.
How Dental Implant Surgery Works
For patients considering dental implants talk to your dental provider about the potential benefits and risks associated with this procedure. Your overall health is an essential factor in determining whether or not you are a good candidate for dental implants. Another essential factor that should be considered about dental implants is the healing process. The healing process for the dental implant may take several months or longer, and during this time, your dentist will use a temporary abutment in place of the tooth to help assist in the process of osseointegration.
After your consultation and exam, your next appointment will allow your dentist and their team to place the implant. During your surgery, your dentist will perform your implant surgery under the following procedures:
- Tooth Extraction: If you have a remaining tooth that needs replacing, then your dentist will extract the tooth and disinfect the tooth area before placing the tooth implant.
- Inserting Dental Implant/Bone Grafting: If you’re a candidate for a bone grafting procedure, then your dentist will perform that procedure to strengthen the bone and help prepare the jawbone for the implant. Once healed, the implant will be inserted into the jawbone under the gumline. After the implant is added to the jawbone, the jawbone will begin to grow around the implant and become part of the natural gum line. This process can take up to a year or more, depending on the healing process and need for bone grafts.
- Abutment Placement: In order to help situate the implant, a temporary abutment can be placed to protect the implant. The abutment helps connect the implant to the crown and needs to stay tightened to allow for the ceramic or porcelain crowns to stay put. This process assists the implant osseointegration process.
- Crown Placement: Once the gums, jawbone, and implant post heal, the artificial crown are then placed after the healing process is complete. During this stage, the implant crowns can be adjusted according to the patient’s preference and can be either permanent or removable. The crown is cemented down to the abutment to create a tight seal and help restore function completely.
- Overall Recovery: Soft foods, water, avoiding tobacco and ice packs are recommended after the procedure, as these methods can help reduce the discomfort of swelling and prevent the onset of infections throughout the implant area.
This process, despite its risks, is a perfectly safe and highly successful procedure performed by many dentists. Jawbone health and tooth health are crucial aspects to how successful the implant procedure can be, and it’s also important to discuss any temporary options that may work best for you, including temporary crowns, dental flippers, and retainers. If you wish to learn about dental implants and how they work, the best place to learn more is by scheduling an appointment with your local dentist today.