If you have missing teeth, you may be considering getting dental implants. Dental implants have transformed the way in which dentists are able to replace teeth that have either been extracted or have fallen out of their own accord, leaving patients with a gap in their smile that causes both functional and cosmetic issues. Dental implants are widely considered to be the most natural, stable and durable of all tooth replacement solutions, making them highly sought after by patients across the United States.
Here’s what patients need to know about what to expect before undergoing a dental implant procedure.
Understanding dental implants
Before you undergo your dental implant procedure, you will need to understand how dental implants work to ensure that they are right for you. The implants themselves have two main parts. The visible part of your solution is a porcelain crown that is bespoke, created specifically to replicate the natural tooth that you have lost. It will be glazed in a shade that will blend in seamlessly with the remainder of your teeth and smile. The second main element of your dental implants will be the implant posts themselves. These are titanium – a biocompatible material which helps to ensure that your body will not reject them. They are surgically implanted into the jawbone, usually beneath where the missing tooth is and replicate the original root. As the bone heals it encases the implant, making it a permanent fixture of your jaw. This process underpins the success of the procedure and without it, the implant could come loose.
Preparation for your dental implant procedure
Since dental implants are a surgical procedure, it is important that patients take adequate steps to prepare as this can have a positive impact on both the surgery itself and the outcome that you can expect following it. Some of the things that you should expect to be asked to do include the following:
If you smoke, you may not be approved for a dental implant procedure altogether since smokers are more likely to develop gum disease which in turn can put dental implants at risk. However, if you are approved for this treatment, you will definitely be asked to stop smoking around the time of your surgery – usually for at least 2-4 weeks before and up to 8 weeks afterward. This is because smoking inhibits the amount of oxygen in your blood, and this can slow the rate of healing and increase your risk of complications during and after your procedure. Ideally, patients should use this time as an opportunity to quit once and for all – your health will thank you for it and you may be able to preserve your new smile for longer.
Quit taking certain medications
During your consultation, your implant provider will ask you to disclose important medical information which will include details of any medications that you are currently taking. There are some types of medication that should be avoided in the approach to a dental implant procedure, such as blood thinners because they could increase the risk of complications associated with the surgery. It is important that you follow any instructions of this nature provided by your surgeon.
Ask about anesthetic and sedation
The vast majority of dental implant procedures are carried out under local anesthetic, which numbs the area of the mouth being worked on but ensures that you are fully awake and coherent for the entire procedure. However, some patients find dental treatments difficult due to fear or anxiety, and for this reason, it may be possible for you to have sedation. Sedation involves the use of specific medications designed to make you feel relaxed and calm whilst you have your implants placed. There are different degrees of sedation available, and your implant provider will be able to advise you which could be suitable for you. Using a combination of anesthetic and sedation can make the experience much more tolerable for those patients who might otherwise be frightened to undergo dental treatment.
Prepare for your recovery
The recovery following dental implants can take some time, as you will need to allow for your gums to heal and the bone to regenerate around the implant posts. Some discomfort is to be expected, and patients will also need to make considerable adjustments to their diet during the initial stage of the healing process. Be sure to speak to your dental implant surgeon ahead of the procedure to ensure that you know what to expect from the recovery period, in order to allow you to take the appropriate preparatory steps. This will help to improve the outcome of your procedure.
For more advice on what to expect from dental implants, please speak to our knowledgeable and reassuring dental team.