Odontology has progressed quickly over the last years, and dental implant solutions to replace teeth have become really popular. However, most people don’t need to know anything about what a dental implant is, its current use, types, etc. until… until they need them. When we lose a tooth or we use a removable denture and dental implants are recommended, we hurry to search for any information through the internet. In this post, we would like to help you answering some of those questions that give you a lot of thought.
What Are Dental Implants?
An implant is the replacement of the root of a tooth, and on top of it, a prosthesis imitating the visible part of a tooth, functionally and aesthetically, is placed, the so called crown. An implant is similar to a screw, however, unlike the screws we place in the wall, the implant provokes an effect in the cells surrounding it so they adhere to it. This is called osseointegration, what gives stability to the implant.
What Are Dental Implants Used for?
The main objective of a dental implant is giving the right mouth functionality back. When we lose a dental piece, the whole system is disturbed.
The hole remaining leads to an incorrect biting (digestive disorders), and the rest of pieces move to fill the gap left. We may have problems with the articulation of the mandible, neck pain and headaches too. Our pronunciation may also be modified. Long after, we lose some bone volume in the place where the missing tooth was. The aesthetic problem is also significant, specially when we lose a piece placed in the visible part of our smile, as it may condition our personal and labour relationships, a lot.
A dental implant prevents these problems when it’s placed quickly. In case we wait too long, the implant may fix some problems, but not all and it will require complementary treatments.
What Are the Implant Components?
Usually, an implant is composed basically by the implant or fixture, the screw; and the abutment, a high precision component and point of junction between the implant and the prosthesis (crown, bridge or full arch). Abutments have a quite important function and must fulfill two essential characteristics:
- Unalterable by external agents like food acids or blows.
- Durable and bearable to the normal erosion of the teeth and the passing of time.
What Materials Are Dental Implants Made of?
Nowadays, 95% of dental implants are made of titanium alloys. Titanium implants are perfectly biocompatible. Recently, zirconium implants are also available. Both, titanium and zirconium achieve excellent results in bone integration.
How long does the osseointegration take?
Osseointegration is a process that may usually take between 3 and 6 months. Sometimes, osseointegration is necessary before loading the prosthesis over the implants. However, in proper conditions, an immediate load is possible. Immediate load achieves the patient doesn’t need to wait toothless or with a removable denture, but with the final prosthesis from the very first moment.
What Are the Proper Conditions for Immediate Load?
The main condition is that implants manage primary stability. We need the right mechanical stability to allow osseointegration happens. Primary stability depends on:
- Quantity and quality of the bone.
- Quality of the implant.
- Surgical technique.
What Are the Differences Between a Provisional Prosthesis and a Definitive One?
There may be two types of provisional prostheses depending on the load over implants:
- Removable prostheses.
- Fixed prostheses; attached to the implant in case of immediate load.
These prostheses facilitate that we ‘have teeth’ until osseointegration of the implants in the bone happens. Provisional prostheses are not as aesthetically treated as the definitive ones, and usually, they are made of different materials since they are used in a short period of time. Definitive prostheses will be attached much better.
There are also immediate load definitive prostheses from the very beginning, as for example the ArtOn developed and patented by Artedental. In this case, the definitive prosthesis is loaded between 12 and 24 hours after the surgery, as it’s manufactured during that time. Later, the occlusion is adjusted when the bone integration of the implant is completed, 4/6 months later.
What happens when the volume or the quality of the bone are not enough for dental implants?
This doesn’t mean we cannot place implants, but that we have to provide the proper conditions so it is possible. There are different treatments and techniques we may apply to improve both, the volume and the quality of the bone.
- Vitamines and minerals intake. Most people are vitamina D deficient, necessary for the calcium that contributes to bone density, besides taking part in many neuronal processes.
- Bone graft. Necessary to increase the volume of the bone where implants will be placed.
- Plasma rich in growth factors accelerates and helps osseointegration, improves healing and reduces inflammation and pain.
- Sinus lift. Surgical technique used to place implants in the back side of the upper jaw when there is not enough bone left.
Do I need a dental implant for every missing tooth?
It depends on:
- When there is only one missing tooth or two adjacent ones, we will replace each of them with an implant.
- If there are several missing and adjacent teeth, we may replace them with two implants and a bridge to support them.
- In case we want to replace the full arch, it’s necessary from four to eight implants only.
Anyway, the implantologist must value many factors. For instance, it’s different if the patient is an old or a young person, since the prosthesis will have to support stronger chewing forces for a longer period when the patient is a young person. In this case, more implants can be appropriate so the load is better shared.
What’s it like the procedure of dental implants placement?
There are four steps in dental implant treatments:
- Assessment and planning. In this phase, the specialist will carry out an examination of the mouth, a blood test, a radiology test and a complete medical questionnaire on our general and dental health. He will make impressions of the denture to be used by the dental technician. All the treatment is planned here, and the patient will be completely informed. The specialist will also value if a previous treatment is needed to restore a tooth, a deep cleaning of the gum in case of gingivitis or pyorrhea, the need of a sinus lift, bone regeneration, etc.
- Surgery procedure. Usually, the implants are placed in one or two surgeries, depending on the procedure: immediate or deferred load. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia or, in certain cases, under controlled sedation supervised by an anaesthetist.
- Prosthetic rehabilitation. The dental prosthesis is loaded on the implants. This procedure depends on the stability of the implants. Sometimes, the load may be immediate, right after the surgery; or once the implants reach the right osseointegration. This is a really important stage, as it requires a perfect coordination between both teams, doctors and technicians.
- Maintenance. In the same way we regularly care our natural teeth, implants need it too. It’s very important not to skip the check-ups and to keep in mind that, though prosthesis do not suffer tooth decay, they may be affected by periimplantitis, which may cause we lose our implants. Teeth experience adaptation processes during time; implants are external pieces that remain unalterable, but the parts surrounding the implants may be modified, so they need an exhaustive control.
Can I have dental implants if I’m an smoker?
Cases of dental implant failure are very few, but the probabilities increase if you are a smoker +info in our post. If you are a smoker, the ideal is to quit, at least from 8 to 10 weeks. This improves the process.
Can I have dental implants if I suffer gum desease?
Yes, you can. However, in case of gingivitis or pyorrhea, it’s important to treat them before performing the dental implant procedure. The damage the desease has caused must be assessed, and the mouth cleaned thoroughly. Bacteria causing the desease may also affect the tissues surrounding the implants (periimplantitis), what may cause their failure. It’s quite important these patients maximise hygiene once the implants are placed. In order to reduce gingivitis or pyorrhea, oral hygiene must be improved.
Can I have dental implants if I am diabetic?
In case the diabetes is controlled, there should’t be problems. Success rate is the same for other patients, over 98%.
Is the procedure painful?
It’s not more painful than extracting a molar under local anesthesia. In case there are many implants to be placed, the procedure may be longer, not painful. If the patient suffers dental phobia, any special condition or he just wants to be more comfortable, the procedure under sedation or general anesthesia may be performed too. In this cases, the patient will be always supervised by an anesthetist.
Can my body reject dental implants?
It usually can’t, since titanium is a biocompatible metal that has proved neither toxic nor irritant reaction in the tissues of the mouth. Therefore, the possibilities of a reaction or an allergy is quite unlikely. There may be other problems causing the osseointegration fails, like poor hygiene in the area after the surgery, the intake of certain drugs or some common pathologies like high cholesterol.
Are dental implants aesthetic? Will they fit me?
As you are having new teeth, you will want not only to improve the functional part, but also the aesthetics; and it’s possible to improve it. When the prosthesis is manufactured, it’s important to decide its look. That’s the reason why you should talk to the dental technician who is going to create the prosthesis, besides the surgeon. The surgeon is not only placing the implants, but also carrying out the complementary treatments necessary to manage the right aesthetic result.
Dental technicians are like artists, and sculpt the white and pink areas of the teeth and the gums, so the prothesis looks perfectly natural and is adapted to our face. Regarding the colour, if we are having a single implant or a bridge, they must look as the rest of our teeth. In case we are having a full arch, we will have more options when choosing the colour.
How much do dental implants cost?
As we have seen, there are lots of determinants affecting the procedure. Every case is different and depends on the situation of our mouth. In a professional dental clinic like Artedental, the usual protocol starts with an appointment to check the patient, and later presenting him a planning and a budget proposal including every treatment. The implantologist explains you the situation in which the mouth is, what treatments are necessary and why. He will advise you on the type and number of implants you need, and explain what prostheses are the most adequate in your situation. Make sure the budget is definitive to avoid additional costs and mistrust bargains!
The price of dental implants must include the treatment, as implants are not sold by their own. In Artedental, we are specialists in dental implants in Tenerife, and our budgets include:
- Previous tests: blood and radiology
- Previous treatments: tooth decay, extractions, infections, bone graft, sinus lift…
- Surgery: implants and abutments, provisional and/or definitive prostheses, sedation…
- Assessments and check-ups
In Artedental, at Puerto de la Cruz, appointments for diagnosis and budget proposal are free of charge. If you need dental implants in Tenerife, make an appointment in Artedental.
Cover picture via Pinterest. Steps in the placement of a deferred load implant.