There’s a lot to like about dental implants for replacing missing teeth. Not only are they life-like, but because they replace the root they also function much like a natural tooth. They also have another unique benefit: a track record for long-lasting durability. It’s estimated more than 95% of implants survive at least ten years, with a potential longevity of more than 40 years.
But even with this impressive record, we should still look at the few that didn’t and determine the reasons why they failed. We’ll soon find that a great number of those reasons will have to do with both oral and general health.
Factors That Affect Longevity Of Implants
There are a few things that may affect the lifespan of an implant. The good news is that, when these factors can be mitigated, the patient may enjoy indefinite functionality.
Tooth grinding and clenching are more serious than many people imagine. This condition, also known as bruxism, may be especially harmful to the integration of a dental implant. The excessive force placed onto the supporting connective tissues can degrade the casing of bone around the metal post. Patients with bruxism may require corrective treatment, or a night guard to reduce the physical impact.
Just as inflammation of the gums may cause deterioration around natural teeth, these conditions around a restoration can adversely affect the implant. Only the inorganic implant materials are resistant to disease, natural oral tissues, such as bone, are not. If oral bacteria enter the surface tissues, the periodontal ligament is next in line for depreciation. Good hygiene habits do not become any less important after tooth replacement with dental implants. Brushing and flossing must be performed daily to maintain healthy gums and the life of the implant.
Patients are often victims of oddly placed implants over an ill-fitting set of dentures. Dentists with an inexperienced hand are primarily why such scenarios occur. It might also happen that the gums over the jawbone have shrunk giving rise to problems like loose dentures and much more. Regular follow-ups with the dental surgeons after the installation is also important as that help in detecting unobtrusive issues which later become a threat to oral health.
Implants, in order to function optimally, must fuse with the bone to provide the dentures with an adequate support. However, if initial inspection reveals that the patient had suffered bone loss, the process of bone regeneration must be followed before going into further dental treatments. With an inadequacy of bones, dental implants are rendered futile. Prior treatments and existing ailments must also be given careful considerations before attempting dental implant installations.
You have just completed the first step of your implant treatment. If you look inside your mouth, you may be able to see the implant. The implant does require a clean environment in order to heal properly. In that regard, much of the success of this implant will depend on you. Proper care of your mouth will aid in the healing process and reduce the possibility of complications. The following instructions will assist you in this healing phase.
- Following the procedure, you may find it advisable to take it easy for a day or two. Usually the fewer implants placed the sooner you will feel comfortable returning to normal activities. Jogging and vigorous activities should be avoided for a few days.
- You may experience some swelling after the procedure. Ice packs will keep swelling and/or bruising to a minimum. Apply ice to your face on a 15 minute on and 15 minute off cycle for the remainder of the day, if possible. One way to make an effective ice pack is to put ice in a plastic bag and wrap in a towel, cloth or sock. If swelling persists after 48 hours, apply a warm moist towel.
- You may have some discomfort after the procedure. The amount of this discomfort depends on a number of factors including the number of implants placed and where they were placed. Over the counter anti-inflammatory medicines, (Advil, Aleve or Ibuprofen), are often helpful in controlling this type of discomfort.
- There is a usually a minimal amount of bleeding following the procedure. We suggest that you apply a small amount of pressure. If you notice bleeding from the area after the first 30 minutes, place another gauze pad over the area. Some oozing may occur for a day or two after the surgery. If implants are placed in the upper jaw, you may experience a nosebleed within the first few days after surgery.
- Rinsing is very helpful in keeping your mouth clean. Do not rinse for the first 24 hours. After 24 hours use the chlorhexidine rinse. Rinse very gently without swishing. Continue this procedure for 2 weeks, 4 to 5 times a day. Avoid rigorous rinsing as this will slow the healing process and may cause bleeding.
- Do not attempt to floss or water-pick in the area of surgery for the first week. Keep your mouth clean with warm water rinses. Following the healing period, you will be instructed on further cleaning techniques. The rest of your mouth should continue to be cleaned as usual.
- Brush your teeth and the healing abutments carefully with the brush provided in your implant pack. Be gentle initially with brushing the surgical areas but do not avoid them.
- Diet is very important in the post operative period. We would like you to eat soft, nutritious foods. Care should be taken to avoid hard or crunchy foods that might cause trauma to the implant area. Gently rinse with warm water after every meal.
- Smoking should be avoided for at least 2 weeks following surgery. This has been shown to negatively affect the healing process.
- Your dentist will decide when dentures or partial dentures may be worn after surgery, but they must be worn only with caution. Remember, no undue pressure should be applied over the implant surgical site. This can affect the success of your implant.
- Stitches will be removed in 7 – 10 days, as deemed necessary by your dentist.
- Should you notice any swelling, redness or discomfort in the area of the implant after the healing phase, PLEASE NOTIFY THE PRACTICE