By – Gayathri Krishnamoorthy, Assistant Professor, Manipal College of Dental Sciences, Manipal
Tooth loss causes significant changes in the oral and general health of an individual. From nutritional deficiencies to loss of self-esteem, tooth loss has been considered a ‘final marker of disease burden for oral health’. Almost 35% of adults in India, experience either partial or complete tooth loss at some stage in their life. Though there are various treatment options available for replacing missing teeth, dental implants have seen great traction among the general public.
What are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are metal screw-like posts placed in the jawbone which replace the missing teeth and restore their lost function and aesthetics. Dental implants can be made of various materials but the most commonly used material is Titanium. An Implant has 3 main parts – the implant body itself, the abutment (connects the implant body to the crown), and the crown (replaces the missing portion of the tooth) Implant placement can be done for individuals with a single missing tooth, multiple missing teeth, and also for individuals with complete teeth loss.
Who can get Dental Implants? Will it be painful to get Dental Implants?
Ideally, any healthy individual above 18 years of age, who have good oral hygiene and sufficient bone quality and quantity can get dental implants. Having said that, patients who have poor bone quality and quantity can still undergo dental implant surgery, provided they opt for bone graft surgeries.
Bone graft surgery is a minor surgery where artificial or natural bone grafts re placed around the poor bone quality and allowed to heal (bone growth to happen) for a minimum period of 6 months. After the healing period, a radiograph (X-ray) will be advised, which will help your dentist decide whether further healing is required or whether the implants can be placed.
To answer the second question – No, getting a dental implant is not painful as the individual will be under local anesthesia for the entire procedure. Post-dental implant surgery, patients will be prescribed antibiotics and painkillers to prevent infections and any mild pain that may develop.
Complications of Dental Implant Surgery
As with any surgical procedure, even dental implant surgery has its risks. However, the benefits of the surgery override the risks or complications involved. Some of the complications which may arise during or after the surgery are nerve damage, loosening of the implant, or damage to adjacent tissue. But, with the advent of recent imaging facilities and surgical techniques, these complications can be avoided.
How will I know if my Implant is Failing?
An implant can fail due to multiple reasons. It can be due to poor oral hygiene, uncontrolled diabetes, patients with bone diseases, or consistent smokers. The following are some tell-tale signs that patients with dental implants can look out for to check if the implant is failing.
a. Pus or any other secretion around the implant
b. Dull pain in the region of implant placement or when tapping the implant.
c. A sensation of movement or twisting of the implant or the crown
d. Reduction in height of bone
What Treatment options are available for Dental Implants?
Dental implants can be placed in individuals with a single missing tooth, or multiple missing teeth, and for individuals with no teeth. The healing process after implant placement can take up to 6 months for the upper jaw, and 3 months for the lower jaw. Once the implant has healed (i.e. bone has formed around the implants) your dentist can either provide you with a single crown, a dental bridge on multiple implants, or an implant-retained denture based on the number of implants.
For one Tooth Missing: An Individual Crown is Placed on the Implant.
For multiple missing teeth: A dental bridge is given joining the multiple implants.
For no teeth present: There are two options here, and based on the available bone height and space between the upper and lower jaw, your dentist decides accordingly:
a. Removable implant denture
b. Fixed implant denture
What to Expect after Dental Implant Placement?
You may experience some facial or gum swelling after implant placement, which is completely normal. The swelling will subside in 2-3 days. There may be some bruising, pain, or minor bleeding around the implant site. Your dentist will provide you with post-surgery and post-treatment oral hygiene instructions which should be strictly adhered to, to prevent any complications.
What will be the Cost of Implant Treatment?
The cost of a dental implant treatment entirely depends on the number of implants, bone grafts used, and the type of denture provided by your dentist.
Are Dental Implants Covered Under Health Insurance?
Though there are many health policies available in India, there is still a need to apply for a separate dental insurance policy to claim returns for your dental-related problems. Dental implants may or may not be covered in your dental insurance plan. It is imperative to speak with your insurance provider to get inclusive details of your dental insurance policy.
Dental implant treatments have a high success rate and can provide long-term benefits. I would like to add that the success of an implant lies in the hands of a patient as much as it lies in the hands of a dentist.