More than 120 million people in the United States alone are missing at least one tooth. Missing teeth can actually be quite detrimental to your oral health since it can slowly cause your jawbone to degrade. This is why it is important to consider dental implants and dental implant recovery if you want to keep your mouth in good shape.
Besides that, dental implant surgery can make your smile look much better and you can get your confidence back. This is not to mention that dental implant options will also help improve the function of your teeth. But what should you expect from dental implant surgery and dental recovery?
Keep reading and learn more about the process below.
What You Need To Know About Dental Implants
You might be wondering why you should consider dental implants instead of any other type of dental treatment for missing teeth. While there are other options to treat missing teeth such as dental bridges or dentures, dental implants are one of the best options to treat individual missing teeth. If you are only missing one or a few teeth, then dental implants will be the best option.
On the other hand, if you are missing several teeth in the same area of your mouth, a dental bridge may be the better option. And if you are missing all or almost all of your teeth, then dentures may be the perfect option for you. While it is possible to get dental implants for most or all of your teeth, most people prefer not to do this.
This is because getting so many dental implants is very expensive. This is not to mention that filling your mouth with dental implants, especially all at once, could be quite traumatic and painful for your mouth. For that reason, it is more realistic to only get dental implants for one or a few teeth.
But what makes dental implants so special in the first place? The first thing you should know about them is that they are very realistic in appearance. The crowns of dental implants are usually made of porcelain, although they may occasionally be made out of other materials as well.
Understanding Dental Implants
Whatever the case, the materials used for the dental implant's crown match the color of your teeth and even have realistic dental textures. Dental implants also perform as well as real teeth, if not better. This is because dental implants are very durable.
It would be very hard to chip or crack them. They certainly would not wiggle around in your mouth since they are drilled into your jawbone, making them especially sturdy. Keep in mind, however, that you will need to care for the implants to a certain extent.
For example, you will still need to brush and floss them as you would with your real teeth. Otherwise, your dental implants might start to become discolored or may become worn down. While dental implants may sound great, what should you expect from the dental implant surgery and recovery process?
What Does Dental Implant Surgery Involve?
Before the dental implant surgery, your dentist will first examine the state of your oral health. The dentist will also take some X-rays of your mouth to better understand its structure as well as visualize your jawbone. If you currently have any active dental conditions such as tooth decay, gum disease, or tooth infections, you may not be able to get your dental implants right away.
Instead, you'll have to get those conditions treated so that your mouth is healthy and ready for dental implants. Taking X-rays of your mouth is particularly important as it will help the dentist determine where the dental implants are going to fit in your jaw. In some cases, your dentist may even make a 3D model of your teeth and jaw for even better visualization.
When it is time for the procedure itself, you don't need to worry about the procedure being painful. This is because your dentist will provide you with some sedation. Usually, dentists use local anesthesia or another kind of oral anesthesia.
This will either numb a portion of your mouth or your entire mouth. If you have any dead or damaged teeth that need to be removed, your dentist will remove them at this point along with the dental roots. If you have already lost some teeth but the dental roots remain, the dentist will need to remove them.
After that, a bone graft might be necessary. Bone grafts are not for everyone. The only ones who need bone grafts are those who have weak or thin jawbones.
If your jawbone is too thin or weak, it will not be a good foundation for your dental implants.
The bone might even become damaged if it is too weak. To strengthen your jaw, you will need to take bone from a different part of your body and graft it to your jaw.
After a few weeks, the grafted bone will start to heal along with the rest of your jawbone. Soon, your jawbone will be strong enough to support the dental implants. Of course, if your jaw is already strong enough, you should be able to skip this step and save yourself a lot of time.
To install the implant, the dentist will need to first cut through your gums to reach the jawbone. Then, the dentist will drill a small hole in the jaw to accommodate the post of the dental implant. The post is usually made out of surgical steel or titanium since neither of these metals is likely to irritate the mouth.
Once that's done, your dentist will then seal the gums over the metal post. The metal post will act as the root or anchor for the rest of your dental implant that needs to be installed at a later time. After you heal, you can finally get the abutment and the crown of the dental implant.
The abutment is a small piece that fits between the post and the dental crown. It acts as a sort of shock absorber so that the crown and post don't wear each other down. The dental crown itself, of course, is the part of the implant that looks like a real tooth.
After that, the dental implant process will be complete and you can start enjoying the benefits that the implants have to offer. But what about the recovery process? How long will it take and what does it entail?
What About the Dental Implant Recovery Process?
The first part of the dental implant recovery process will depend on whether or not you need a bone graft. If not, then you can move right on to the main part of the procedure and recovery process. If so, then the recovery process will involve an extra step and it will add some extra time to the entire dental implant procedure.
As mentioned before, a bone graft involves grafting a piece of bone to the location of your jaw that will receive the dental implant. When you get a bone graft, you will not be able to get your dental implant until your jawbone heals. The majority of the healing will take place between one and two weeks.
However, for your jaw to heal completely, you will need to wait several months. Of course, you won't need to wait so long to get your implants. After a few weeks, your jaw should be in good shape to receive the implants. As you recover from a bone graft, you will notice some swelling and discomfort in the area, but these side effects are normal so there is no need to worry about them.
What You Need to Know
The swelling and discomfort should go away after a week or so. After that, you can go back to your dentist and get started on your dental implants. If you don't need a bone graft, then you can focus more on the recovery process of the dental implants themselves.
The first part of the process is recovering from the installation of the dental post in your jawbone. Keep in mind that your dentist will first drill a hole in your jaw, place the post inside the hole, and then close your gums over the post. At that point, the recovery process will begin.
The main thing that you need to wait for is osseointegration. What does this mean exactly, you might ask? It has to do with waiting for your jawbone to grow around the dental post.
This anchors the dental post in place and ensures that the dental implant won't wobble or fall out down the line. Waiting for the bone to grow around the post can take a while, often many months. If you don't give yourself enough time before continuing with the rest of the dental implant, the implant won't have a sturdy foundation.
While you heal, your dentist will give you a temporary crown to wear to cover your missing tooth.
Other Factors in the Dental Implant Healing Process
Once your dental post has integrated with your jawbone, there are still more recovery factors you should know about. The next step is getting the abutment. The abutment is a very small piece compared to the dental post and the dental crown, but it is important for protecting the dental implant as a whole.
When you get the abutment, your dentist will need to cut back into your gums to attach it to the dental post. Once the abutment is installed, you will likely need to heal for several more weeks before you get the dental crown. To help your gums heal more efficiently, your dentist may even provide you with a special healing cap for the area.
Depending on how fast your gums heal, you may be ready for the dental crown in only one week or several weeks. During this time of healing, your dentist will be busy crafting a dental crown that will fit perfectly in your mouth. Then, you can get your dental crown.
Since this part is not very invasive, there is not much recovery associated with it. Most of the recovery is required after your first surgery involving the dental post and the second part of the process involving the abutment. You will most likely experience some side effects after the first surgery such as bleeding around the treated area, swelling, bruising, and pain.
All of these side effects are normal and go away on their own after a week or so. There will be sutures at the treated site and they may be irritating to the tongue at first. While you heal, it is important to only eat soft foods, especially for the first few days.
If you try to eat hard or crunchy foods, these foods may damage the treated area and may even cut open your gums. This can interfere with the healing process and, in some cases, it can even cause an infection, so make sure that you stick with soft foods while you recover. Cold foods, in particular, can be helpful since they can reduce any swelling in the area.
All About the Dental Implant Recovery Process
The dental implant recovery process isn't as complicated as you might expect, but it can take a while. You may need to first recover from a bone graft which can take several weeks. You will then need to recover from the installation of the dental post followed by the addition of the abutment.
Only after healing from the abutment can you finally get the dental crown. To learn more, contact us here.