Dental implants: what you need to know
What are dental implants?
Dental implants are artificial tooth roots that are anchored in the jawbone.
They consist of three parts:
- The implant body anchored in the jawbone (looks like a “dowel” or “screw”),
- the neck part (also called abutment or connector)
- and the crown (tooth).
In the case of a dental implant, the actual implant (screw) is screwed into the jawbone and should grow together with the jawbone there. The connecting piece, around which the gums should nestle, is then placed on this screw. Finally, the tooth crown is placed on the connecting piece. When everything is ready, the dental implant is firmly in the mouth and looks like a real tooth. It can be fully loaded. So you can use it to chew hard nuts, eat steak, forcefully bite into a crunchy apple. Since wobbles and disturbs nothing. That is why dental implants are becoming more and more popular for dentures. They look and feel like real teeth.
What materials are used for dental implants?
Dental implants consist of three parts made of different materials. The actual implant (the screw) and the connecting piece are usually made of pure titanium. This is very well accepted by the body, there are no allergies or intolerances, the jawbone can grow very well with the implant.
Titanium alloys or zirconium oxide ceramics are also possible. Medical technology has moved away from pure ceramics, which were used in the past, since pure ceramic implants were not as resilient and durable. From a technical point of view, zirconium oxide ceramics are not metal, but they have properties that are just as stable and durable as metal. They are therefore good for people who do not want metal in their mouth.
The crown, i.e. the visible part of the tooth, is usually made of ceramic. In this way, the dental implant can best be reproduced optically and esthetically from a natural tooth.
What are the requirements for getting dental implants?
There are some requirements that must be met in order for you to be one dental implant can get. These include, for example:
- Bone growth must already be complete (from about 18 years of age)
- Sufficient jaw bone is necessary (otherwise the implant cannot hold)
- careful and consistent oral hygiene is critical, both before and after implant placement
Furthermore, there are unfortunately also some exclusion criteria, if a dental implant is not feasible. For example:
- Presence of serious diseases such as heart disease, bleeding tendency, bone and metabolic diseases
- Long-term use of certain medications such as immunosuppressants, cortisone, cytostatics and others (please discuss this with your dentist!)
- If there are pathological conditions in the oral cavity that affect the mucous membranes or jawbones, the successful treatment and healing must first be awaited
- Smokers who smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day cannot get implants because the implants cannot heal properly due to smoking and therefore do not last
Your dentist will carefully check whether you meet all the requirements and whether there are no exclusion criteria and then advise you accordingly whether dental implantation is an option for you.
How does a dental implantation work?
There are different procedures for a dental implantation. It depends on where the implant is to be placed, what the bone substance is like, whether it is a single-tooth implant or whether larger areas, i.e. several adjacent teeth, need to be replaced. Depending on what is the case for you, your dentist will select the best option for you and advise you on it.
Basically, a dental implantation is carried out in four steps:
- First, the dentist opens the mucous membrane over the jawbone with a small incision.
- Then he drills a channel (a hole) in the jawbone with a thin special drill.
- The implant body (the screw) is then screwed into the drilled channel and either left open or the gum is sutured over it so that the implant can heal without stress.
- It can take several weeks to months for the implant to grow firmly into the jawbone and heal. The dentist will regularly monitor this process and, in due course, will eventually adjust and insert the connector and crown. Then the dental implant is fully load-bearing and ready.
Thorough cleaning and oral hygiene are important for the long-term preservation of the dental implant. Your dentist will show you what is important and what you should do every day in order to enjoy your dental implant for a lifetime.
Photo credit: wutzkoh / stock.adobe.com
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