Currently, dental implants are the most advanced solution for replacing lost tooth. The implant is inserted into the jawbone; therefore, it replaces the roots as well as the crown of the tooth. The procedure has several benefits from improved comfort and aesthetics to combatting bone loss. With a 99,1% success rate backed by more than 50 years of clinical research, it is safe to say that dental implants are a low-risk procedure, but as every surgical intervention, the chance of a complication cannot be completely ruled out.
Below, we assembled everything you need to know about the benefits and risks of getting a dental implant as well as the steps that can be taken to prevent complications.
The Benefits of Dental Implants
With implants, the patients can talk, chew, and laugh with complete confidence without having to worry about their dentures slipping out of place. Dental implants offer highly aesthetic and natural-looking solutions for replacing missing teeth and they are also incredibly durable, usually lasting a lifetime with proper maintenance. They are also way more comfortable than traditional tooth replacements as they function just like natural teeth.
The material of the implants is titanium, a metal that is not only very strong and resistant to corrosion, but also highly biocompatible which means it is non-toxic and not rejected by the body. It is able to integrate with the bone (osseointegration) which guarantees the outstanding level of stability and durability of the implant.
Among the other benefits, dental implants can also prevent bone loss in the surrounding jaw. If a tooth is missing and is not replaced, the underlying bone starts to diminish after a while because of the lack of pressure. This happens in every case without exception, the only factor that determines the volume of bone loss is time. Bone loss is not an isolated phenomenon, but it has various effects on its environment. It can cause surrounding teeth to change their position or might even changes the shape of the face. As implants are inserted into the jawbone, they provide similar stimulation to the bone as the roots of a tooth do, preventing bone loss.
The Risks of Dental Implants
Dental implant placement, just like any other surgery, has some health risks. These problems are not very common, and in general easily treatable. Most complications are avoidable by carefully following the instructions of your oral surgeon.
These already low risks can also be considerably reduced by choosing an experienced surgeon and a well-renowned clinic that follows strict quality standards. The correct preparation of the treatment site and the precise placement of the implants can lessen the trauma of the jawbone which makes the recovery period easier for the patient.
What are the most common complications?
Infection at the implant site
Injury or damage to the surrounding teeth, nerves, blood vessels, or jaw
Sinus problems (only with implants in the upper jaw)
When can we talk about complications after implants?
swelling of the gums
loosing and deflection of the implant
the implant becomes visible (a part is not in the gum)
Causes of complications
Inflammation around the implant is generally caused by the bacteria present in the mouth or sanitary issues. Bacterial infections are the most common, as there are countless bacteria in the oral cavity. Inappropriate sanitization may also be the reason. Health-issues like diabetes or bad habits like heavy smoking can make one more prone to infections. It is important to note that infections don’t only occur immediately after the surgery, but they can also happen years after getting the implant. Untreated gingivitis is also a common cause of infection; therefore, good oral hygiene is just as important as the regular dental check-up.
The strength and quality of one’s bone can be affected by several factors, so it can happen that the jawbone is too weak to hold the implant. If the quality and quantity of the bone is not sufficient, the implant cannot be placed properly, as it won’t be stable enough. A wrongly placed implant can loosen over time, and in rare cases, it might even drop out. If the implant loosens, it usually needs be removed, and the treated area has to be sutured to allow it to heal properly.
To assure the success of the implant placement, a panoramic X-ray image or CT scan is taken at the beginning of the treatment. Based on the results, our dentists conduct a thorough examination to make sure implants can be placed. In some cases, bone grafting or other treatments can be necessary before the implant can be safely inserted.
The root of the adjacent tooth may extend to the area of the implant. This only causes a problem if the oral surgeon does not take this into account when placing the implant and hurts the neighbor roots. If this occurs, a root canal treatment is needed to restore the damaged tooth.
Overloading happens if too much pressure is placed on a single implant. This blocks the buildup process and it can lead to inflammation of the gums and bone tissues. If it is not addressed in time, it can easily lead to bone loss, which can even lead to the loosening of the implant. In such case, antibiotic treatment, as well as dental hygienic treatment and additional oral surgery can be necessary.
In rare cases, hypersensitivity may occur. Implants are made of surgical metal, but the body can detect it as a foreign body and drop it out.
The impact of smoking on dental implants
As all smokers know, tobacco contains many carcinogens, including carbon monoxide and tar. According to the studies and experiences of professionals in dental clinics abroad and in the UK, these toxic substances can significantly delay bone healing. In addition, smoking promotes the development and progression of periodontics, another factor. As this disease attacks the gums and the jawbone, it puts patients at risk of losing their dental implants just after their placement or shortly thereafter.
The general decline of the immune system of smokers also leads to a considerable increase regarding the risks of infections. Oral surgeons and cosmetic dentists at our dental clinic in Hungary strongly advise you to stop smoking before placing dental implants and to try to find a less harmful alternative such as nicotine patches or electronic cigarettes. Stopping smoking before the intervention can considerably reduce the risk of infection by improving oral health during the healing process.
How to minimise the risk of complications?
take painkillers and antibiotics as advised by your oral surgeon
avoid any dairy products and eggs for a couple of days
consume soft but not spicy or too hot food
use a mouthwash carefully from the day after
use a cold compress if you experience any facial swelling
clean the wound gently, using a very soft tooth brush from the day after the surgery
protect the wound from excessive force the following week
try to eat on the other side of your jaw
sleep on your other side or your back at least the night after the surgery
inform your surgeon if you experience excessive postoperative bleeding, pain or fever
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