Millions of people all over the world lose their teeth due to tooth decay, periodontal disease or some kind of injury. In recent years, the invention of dental implants has radically changed the treatment and care of teeth all over the world. They have provided an alternative to treat dental loss which was being treated only with bridges and dentures, with scientifically developed and well researched branch of dental implants. They have changed the scene of dentistry as a profession quite dramatically.
What are dental implants?
In simple terms, dental implants are roots of teeth in place of the real tooth. They provide a solid base for tooth replacements, when real teeth are removed for any reason.
A dental implant is a replacement for a root of a tooth which has been lost for any of a variety of reasons. Like natural root, a dental implant is secured in the jawbone. Like natural root, it is not visible, but is placed surgically in the bone and left there for a certain period of time for nature to take care of it. New tissues with grow around the root to fix the implant firmly in the bone. Once the implant is surrounded with bone tissue, an artificial tooth crown is fixed on the root with the help of connectors. Implants are also used for fixing bridges or even dentures.
Implants are made from titanium, a strong and light weight metal, which is biocompatible, meaning, our body takes to it in a friendly manner, and will not reject it. A great quality of titanium is its ability to fuse with the bone, called osseointegration, which lends itself to be used widely in orthopaedic treatments. Once the dental implants are in place, one needs to care for them well so they may remain durable.
Dental implants are usually made to last. In almost all cases they prove to be safe. They have safety features built in, so like other prosthetics, crowns and bridges or dentures that are fitted on the implants can be removed like other prosthetics. Therefore, if there is any need for them to be removed in future, it can be done by your dentist easily.
Caring for dental implants
Like any other dental treatments done on your teeth, dental implants too need usual care and maintenance.
After the implants have been installed, you need to visit your dentist for monitoring. If your general health is good, then recovery from the surgery is quick and uneventful. There can be a little discomfort because of the surgery and a little inflammation which can be taken care of with anti-inflammatory medication.
Usually there are no open wounds in implants, so there is less concern about infection of the surgery.
Brushing teeth after implants
It is important to brush your teeth at least twice a day after crowns or other prosthetics have been fixed on implants. Just like normal teeth roots, the implants and crowns need to be kept clean because implants are surrounded by live organic tissues which can be affected by bacteria and acids.
Flossing at least once a day is also equally important because food particles wedged between teeth can encourage bacteria to grow in your mouth, which neglected can grow into plaque. There are a few tips which should be observed after dental implants have been fixed into your jawbone.
Diligently follow the exact schedule for medication prescribed by your dental surgeon after the surgery. All pain and recovery medicines should be taken on time. If you feel the pain medication is not needed or the dosage can be reduced, you should talk to your doctor immediately.
You may be asked to use a mouth rinse with anti-microbial medicine. The rinse should be used as advised by the dentist.
Food and lifestyle
After the surgery you will be asked to eat pureed foods, followed by finely cut up foods to avoid strain on teeth. This diet is prescribed for about two to three weeks. After this diet, you will be allowed to eat normal foods, but in this period maintain a diet of soft foods – foods that can be cut with the side of a fork. Do not eat chewy foods which can cause strain to your teeth, and may affect the period of recovery.
Do not smoke cigarettes or cannabis. Even smokeless nicotine products should also be avoided. These products are in any case undesirable for our general health, but in this context, they are really harmful to teeth. They will affect the recovery process of your surgery. Having tobacco related products can have a really huge negative impact on recovery surgery of implants and may increase the failure rate.
Avoid straws. Drink directly from a cup or glass. Straws cause vacuum in the mouth which can impact the tissues and harm them in ways.
When you feel pressure on the implant, a little cold press may relieve you for some time. A gargle of 8 ounces of water mixed with half a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of baking soda kept in the mouth for 3 minutes and gargled out can help.
Blowing your nose may also cause pressure on the implants, so try and avoid it as much as possible. While sneezing, keep your mouth open, so as to lessen the pressure on your teeth and implants.
You may naturally be curious to know how your surgery is improving. To look at your surgery, do not lift your lips up and stretch them to have a good look at your stitches. Stretching lips and cheeks may cause tears and end up irritating gums.
If in case you feel excessive pain, excessive bleeding fever or inflammation, you need to contact your doctor immediately.