Dental implants are an investment, in every sense of the word. Sometimes the cost might be wholly or partially covered by your insurance, but some patients must cover the cost themselves. In addition to the financial cost, you must invest your own time and effort. Installing a dental implant requires a minor surgical procedure, followed by recovery time. You must then do everything in your power to maintain your dental implant. So what can you do to ensure the long-term success of your new implant?
The Parts of Your Dental Implant
Your dental implant is the titanium alloy rod that is implanted into your jaw. This functions as an artificial tooth root system and has a prosthetic tooth attached to it, via an abutment. While the prosthetic tooth itself might require replacement at some point in the (fairly distant) future, the implant in your jaw is intended to be permanent, although its permanence depends on a number of factors.
Concerns During the Stabilization Process
For several months after implantation, the implant and surrounding natural bone and soft tissues undergo a stabilization process known as osseointegration. This is when these tissues regrow around the implant, fusing it into place. Maintaining a high standard of oral hygiene is crucial during this period. Inadequate measures to prevent plaque formation on the prosthetic tooth can lead to an inflammatory response known as peri-implant mucositis. This can escalate to a more serious infection called peri-implantitis, which can result in deterioration of the jawbone. This can culminate in implant failure. These complications can largely be avoided by following your dentist's care instructions for the implant. Ask for clarification if you're unsure about anything.
Grinding Your Teeth
In addition to caring for your implant, you and your dentist may need to identify other potential risk factors. If you grind your teeth at night, this habit can ultimately destabilize an implant. The destructive effects of teeth grinding (known as bruxism) can be offset with a night guard, which is a retainer to be worn while you sleep, which prevents your teeth from making direct contact with each other (thus preventing them from actually being able to grind together). Your dentist will tell you if a night guard is necessary.
Changes to Your Health
You should also consider the effect that other health conditions may have on your implant. A diagnosis of osteoporosis, for example, must be shared with your dentist. It's primarily conditions which can reduce bone density that might have an effect on a dental implant. It should be noted that many medications for a wide range of conditions can result in a loss of bone density. In short, be sure to keep your dentist informed about any changes to your health. This won't automatically mean that intervention is needed, but your dentist might wish to implement regular diagnostic testing into your checkups, allowing them to regularly assess the density of your jawbone. This means that action can be taken when (and if) needed.
Yes, a dental implant is intended to be permanent, and there are a few things you must do to ensure that it's as permanent as it can be. Contact a dental office like Dr Taylors Family Dental Center to learn more.