For the beginning we want to make things clear for everybody so they can understand what is a dental implant. This simple procedure is practically an artificial tooth replacement, that helps stopping or preventing jaw bone loss. Even if the dental implant procedure can be referred to as a form of prosthetic (artificial replacement) dentistry, it is commonly known as a form of cosmetic dentistry.
At a glance, this procedure might not seem like much, but replacing missing tooth roots offers more than an esthetic enhancement. How? Well, those who wonder this should learn that dental implants can also provide people with the strength and durability needed to enjoy simple, but important things, like food. Even though you have a quite a few restorative options for the treatment of missing teeth, none have been adequately proven to be as durable and functionally effective as implants.
Dental implants – the procedure
Taking into account the efficiency they give, dental implants are considered the most preferred dental treatment. There are many specialists in this area of dentistry that can help the patients who need full mouth restoration with the best advices for the best results. Still, this procedure isn’t the best option only for those who need full mouth restoration, but also for those who need mini dental implants.
Thanks to the latest technologies and to the best biocompatible materials, dental implants reached their top. By using a simple and painless procedure the dentist can implant the dental implants into the jawbone, achieving a great result.
Don’t worry about the overall comfort following the procedure, because dental implants are custom made, considering that the need of one patient may be very different to the need of another one, so everyone will receive the most suitable implants.
Until recently, the most often used implants were made of titanium, a material with a great durability and functionality, but with some major disadvantages, like its aesthetic appearance. However, in our days, zirconium gain prominence, so zirconia dental implants are quickly becoming the way to go, thanks to their countless advantages compared to titanium implants.
Dental implant procedure – steps
As in many other fields, for the best results, detailed planning is required, preceding the basic procedure. The planning’s main aim is to identify vital structures such as the inferior alveolar nerve or the sinus, but also the shape and dimensions of the bone. All these are very important for the dentist to properly orient the dental implants and to achieve the best results.
The planning often includes two-dimensional radiographs (orthopantomographs or periapicals) and, sometimes, the dentist will need a CT scan. In order to plan the procedure, specialized 3D CAD/CAM computer programs can help the doctor.
Beside all these, a (CT-guided or manual) surgical stent is used in some cases, in order to to properly orient and place the dental implants. For those who are not familiar with this term, a surgical stent is an acrylic wafer that fits over either the teeth, the bone surface or the mucosa (for those who need full mouth restoration) with pre-drilled holes. This stent proves to be very useful because it shows the position and angle of the implants to be placed.
Moving on, to place a dental implant the dentist will prepare the bone using either hand osteotomes or precision drills. Considering that the burning or pressure necrosis of the bone is a major problem, in order to prevent this to happen, the speed of the drills is highly regulated.
Following this phase of the procedure, a crown or crowns can be placed on the implant, forming the final tooth. Still, you should keep in mind that this won’t happen immediately, but after a variable amount of time (depending on the patient’s healing characteristics) designed to allow the bone to grow on to the surface of the implant (osseointegration).
This is the normal procedure for conventional implants, but if it is of mini dental implants, the situation is quite different because these may be implanted immediately.
When it comes of dental implants, there are some variables that may change the situation and the amount of time needed for this operation. These include:
- the experience of the practitioner
- the quality and quantity of the bone
- the difficulty of the individual situation.
The dentist drills a hole into the recipient bone, paying attention to avoid the vital structures as the inferior alveolar nerve (IAN) and the mental foramen within the mandible. This procedure is made several different steps:
- During the drilling procedure, the doctor uses several progressively wider drills (3 to 7, varying according to the dental implant length and width) to expand the pilot. Due to the heat the occurs during this procedure the osteoblast or bone cells can be damaged and, in order to avoid this, a cooling saline or water spray keeps the bone temperature at low levels.
- Following this, the doctor will screw the implant screw. This might seem a simple procedure, but you should learn that the overloaded bone can die and this isn’t the happiest result. In order to avoid this, the screw is screwed into place at a precise torque.
The healing time is a highly debated topic, varying widely from a practitioner to another. With some minor exceptions, the dentists allow about 2 to 6 months for healing. On the other hand, the latest studies revealed that early loading of implant may not increase early or long term complications.
Thanks to the latest technologies and materials, the dentists have the opportunity to use minimally invasive methods reduce the cost of installed implants and shorten the implant-prosthetic rehabilitation time with 4–6 months. However, there should be a minimally healing time because if the dental implant is loaded too soon, there might occur some major problems leading to failure. For example, the implant may move from its initial place and this will change everything.
Depending on the types of material used, the healing time, possibly graft, and eventually place a new implant may take up to eighteen months. Due to this fact, many doctors and patients are tented to hurry the procedure by shortening the healing time.
In order to better understand the dental implant procedure, we recommend you to watch the computerized simulation below.