Dental implants: what they are, when they are recommended and necessary care

Based on what criteria will the best choice of dental implants be made?

The choice of the type of implant, number of implants and the design of the implant-supported prosthesis will be made according to the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment plan. All this is based on an exhaustive pre-operative study. First we will perform a radiographic study to know the quantity and quality of bone we have in the area to be implanted. If it is not enough, it may be necessary to perform bone grafts or other additional bone regeneration techniques.

We also need to know the patient’s general state of health, as well as the existence of certain habits such as, for example, smoking or bruxism. And then a study of the occlusion is carried out with the assembly of models in the articulator to be able to make a correct design of the prosthesis that will be anchored on the implants.

What does the application of implants consist of?

It consists of placing a titanium piece inside the maxillary bone that acts as an artificial root. This artificial root has to be accepted by the surrounding bone in a process known as osseointegration. This artificial root is the base on which we will place the prosthesis or fixed crown that will imitate the shape of the natural tooth and also its function.

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What risks or complications may be involved?

The implant placement procedure is not exempt from complications and risks that may cause it to fail. It must be taken into account that there are some risk factors such as patient habits; for example, smoking, bruxism. Also the general condition of the patient, the presence of some systemic diseases or the intake of certain medications. Also, the loss of the bone surrounding the implant over time.

There are complications that occur during surgery, such as, for example, incorrect placement of the implant or bacterial contamination. But most of the complications occur after the surgery in the long term. One of them is peri-implantitis. Peri-implantitis is the bacterial infection that affects the implant, which is due to poor oral hygiene on the part of the patient and causes pain, bleeding and inflammation.

What care should the patient take after its application?

Proper oral hygiene is very important for the patient through the use of manual or rotary brushes, interproximal brushes, dental floss and oral irrigators. Then it is essential to go to the dental office for periodic check-ups, where clinical and radiological controls of the implants will be carried out, as well as the removal of plaque and tartar present. On the other hand, there are some patients who present parafunctions, known as bruxism. These patients have to be very well controlled with the use of unloading splints to avoid overloading the implants.