I am proud to say that I have all my own teeth at the age of 65. While that may not sound unusual to some people, everyone in my family who is my age or older wears dentures. I always tell people that that flossing is the key to good dental health. I have arthritis in my hands, but I don't let it keep me from flossing every day. My trick is to use those little "flossers" you can buy at the drug store. They have plastic handles floss stretched out on top of the handle. These make flossing easier on days when my arthritis is acting up. I started this blog to let other people know that they can keep their teeth healthy into old age when they take care of them. If you have hand pain, find ways to make flossing easier, like I did.
The decision to get dental implants is a big one. Of course, you are excited by the prospect of having teeth that look and feel natural, but as the implants need to be inserted surgically, it is normal for you to have some concerns and questions, too. Here are answers to some of the most common questions that prospective dental implant patients have.
Is it really safe to implant metal in your jaw?
Sometimes, patients are afraid that their body will react negatively to the implant or that putting metal in their jaw bone will make it weaker in some way. But neither of these concerns are really valid. Dental implants are made from titanium. This metal has been selected for implants specifically because the body does not react to it. You may see it referred to "non-bioreactive" or "inert." Also, putting an implant in the jaw actually makes it stronger, not weaker. The jawbone starts to deteriorate once a tooth root is removed from it, but replacing that root with an implant prevents this deterioration.
How much will the surgery hurt?
Everyone's pain tolerance is different, so it is difficult to say exactly how much pain you'll have with this procedure. However, most patients are surprised that the surgery is less painful than they expected. You won't feel anything while the implant is being inserted, thanks to anesthesia. Afterwards, you can expect some jaw aches and also surface pain from the incisions. However, your dentist will prescribe a pain reliever to modulate this pain, and it generally fades within a few days.
How long will the implants last?
Most implants last a lifetime. The titanium used to make the implant is incredibly strong, and once your jawbone fuses with the implant in a process known as osseointegration, the implant should be very stable in your mouth. The crown portion of the implant, which is the chewing surface you actually see, will typically be made from porcelain. Occasionally, the crown of an implant will chip or otherwise become damaged. However, it's not a big deal when this sort of thing happens. The crown can easily be replaced, and doing so is not a surgical procedure.
Getting a dental implant should be exciting, not intimidating! If there is anything else you would like to know about implants, talk to your dentist. They are usually happy to answer patients' questions and explain things.