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Dental Implants

This all sounds very simple and easy, and for many people it is. For some, however, it isn’t quite such a breeze. If you have gone for a long time with a missing tooth, the jawbone under that area will have thinned – you can lose up to a quarter of the bone mass within the first year after losing a tooth, and more every year after that. Even if you have just had a tooth extracted, you may not have enough bone there to support an implant. This may mean that you will need a bone graft before the dental implant can be installed. A successful bone graft takes a few months to complete, but the procedure itself is relatively simple.
The process of regenerating bone growth in the jaw can be accomplished in several different ways. Your dental surgeon can use scrapings from your own bone, from sterilized donor bone, or from synthetic bone material. Whichever one is chosen, it is then mixed with a bone growth material, and the mixture is put into a custom-made scaffold that fits along the portion of jawbone that needs to be built up. After the scaffold is filled with the graft material, the gums are closed together over it and stitched in place. Over the course of the next four to six months, the bone graft material will gradually turn to healthy, strong bone, and once that has happened, the gums can again be cut open and the scaffolding removed. It has done its job and is no longer needed – the new bone should be exactly the right shape and size, and strong enough to no longer need the scaffolding to hold it in place. At the same time, the titanium screws can be put into the new bone growth, the gums will again be closed up, and more healing and bone growth will take place as the jawbone grows around the screws until they are held solidly in place, just like the roots of your natural teeth. The final step of the process can then be done – the abutment and crown can be installed, and the process is complete.
The one thing that you can be absolutely sure of during your implant process, and that is the fact that there will be pain. These procedures are never pain free, but the pain can be managed with medication and proper mouth care. It is really important to follow your dental surgeon’s advice in how to care for your incision, what foods to avoid, and what medications to take and how often. This will minimize the chances of something going wrong with the healing process as well as keep you from damaging your bone grafts or implants. After each step in the process, you will need to be prepared to mange pain, swelling, bruising, and a small amount of bleeding. Make sure that you have a plan in place for each of these things, so that you can minimize your discomfort and promote healing.
One of the main complications with dental implant surgery is infection. Any invasive procedure has the potential to introduce bacteria into a wound site, and mouth surgery is no different. In most cases, you will be put on a course of antibiotics prior to surgery, just to be on the safe side. This usually prevents any major infections from happening and assures proper healing.
There is a small chance that you could suffer nerve damage from some part of the procedure, which can cause numbness, pain, or constant tingling in your mouth or cheek or lips. You could have the tip of a titanium screw go too far up and enter a sinus cavity, which can cause sinus problems in the future. You could suffer damage to other teeth or other parts of your mouth during the procedures. Each of these possibilities is remote, but if they do happen, you will be able to work with your dental surgeon in most cases to repair the damage.