Dental implants are changing the way people live. They are designed to provide a foundation for replacement teeth that look, feel, and function like natural teeth. The person who has lost teeth regains the ability to eat virtually anything, knowing that teeth appear natural and that facial contours will be preserved. Patients with dental implants can smile with confidence.
What are dental implants?
The implants themselves are tiny titanium posts that are surgically placed into the jawbone where teeth are missing. These metal anchors act as tooth root substitutes. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. Small posts that protrude through the gums are then attached to the implant. These posts provide stable anchors for artificial replacement teeth.
Implants also help preserve facial structure, preventing bone deterioration that occurs when teeth are missing.
For most patients, the placement of dental implants involves two surgical procedures. First, implants are placed within your jawbone. For the first 6-8 weeks following surgery, the implants are beneath the surface of the gums gradually bonding with the jawbone. You should be able to wear temporary dentures and eat a soft diet during this time. At the same time, your dentist is creating new replacement teeth.
After the implant has bonded to the jawbone, the second phase begins. Dr. Kuribayashi will uncover the implants and attach small posts that protrude through the gums and will act as anchors for the artificial teeth. When the artificial teeth are placed, these posts will not be seen. The entire procedure usually takes 3-6 months. Most patients experience minimal disruption in their daily life.
Using the most recent advances in dental implant technology, Dr. Kuribayashi is able to place single stage implants. These implants do not require a second procedure to uncover them, but do require a minimum of 6 weeks of healing time before artificial teeth are placed. There are even situations where the implants can be placed at the same time as a tooth extraction – further minimizing the number of surgical procedures.
What types of prosthesis are available?
A single prosthesis (crown) is used to replace one missing tooth – each prosthetic tooth attaches to its own implant. A partial prosthesis (fixed bridge) can replace two or more teeth and may require only two or three implants. A complete dental prosthesis (fixed bridge) replaces all the teeth in your upper or lower jaw. The number of implants varies depending upon which type of complete prosthesis (removable or fixed) is recommended. A removable prosthesis (over denture) attaches to a bar or ball in socket attachments, whereas a fixed prosthesis is permanent and removable only by the dentist.
Dr. Kuribayashi performs in-office implant surgery in a hospital-style operating suite, thus optimizing the level of sterility. Inpatient hospital implant surgery is for patients who have special medical or anesthetic needs or for those who need extensive bone grafting from the hip or tibia. In this case, Dr. Kuribayashi will do at St. Luke’s International Hospital, Tokyo.
Why dental implants?
Once you learn about dental implants, you finally realize there is a way to improve you life. When you lose several teeth – whether it is a new situation or something you have lived with for years – chances are you have never become fully accustomed to losing such a vital part of yourself.
Dental implants can be your doorway to renewed self-confidence and peace of mind.
Why select dental implants over more traditional types of restorations?
There are several reasons: Why sacrifice the structure of surrounding good teeth to bridge a space? In addition, removing a denture or a “partial” at night may be inconvenient, not to mention that dentures that slip can be uncomfortable and rather embarrassing.
Are you a candidate for implants?
If you are considering implants, your mouth must be examined thoroughly and your medical and dental history reviewed. If your mouth is not ideal for implants, ways of improving outcome, such as bone grafting, may be recommended.
What type of anesthesia is used?
The majority of dental implants and bone graft can be performed in the office under local anesthesia, with or without general anesthesia.
Do implants need special care?
Once the implants are in place, they will serve you well for many years if you take care of them and keep your mouth healthy. This means taking the time for good oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) and keeping regular appointments with your dental specialists.
After placement of dental implants
Do not disturb the wound. Avoid rinsing, spitting, or touching the wound on the day of surgery. There will be a metal healing abutment protruding through the gingival (gum) tissue.
Some bleeding or redness in the saliva is normal for 24 hours. Excessive bleeding (your mouth fills up rapidly with blood) can be controlled by biting on a gauze pad placed directly on the bleeding wound for 30 minutes. If bleeding continues please call for further instructions.
Swelling is a normal occurrence after surgery. To minimize swelling, apply an ice bag, or a plastic bag, or towel filled with ice on the cheek in the area of surgery. Apply the ice continuously, as much as possible, for the first 24 hours.
Drink plenty of fluids. Avoid hot liquids or food. Soft food and liquids should be eaten on the day of surgery. Return to a normal diet as soon as possible unless otherwise directed.
You should begin taking pain medication as soon as you feel the local anesthetic wearing off. For severe pain, the prescribed medication should be taken as directed.
Be sure to take the prescribed antibiotics as directed to help prevent infection.
Good oral hygiene is essential to good healing. The night of surgery, use the prescribed Concool-F Oral Rinse before bed. The day after surgery, the Concool-F should be used twice daily, after breakfast and before bed. Be sure to rinse for at least 30 seconds then spit it out. This should be used at least 4-5 times a day, as well, especially after meals. Brushing your teeth and the healing abutments is no problem. Be gentle initially with brushing the surgical areas.
Keep physical activities to a minimum immediately following surgery. If you are considering exercise, throbbing or bleeding may occur. If this occurs, you should discontinue exercising. Keep in mind that you are probably not taking normal nourishment. This may weaken you and further limit your ability to exercise.
Wearing your prosthesis
Partial dentures, flippers, or full dentures should not be used immediately after surgery and for at least 10 days. This was discussed in the pre-operative consultation.