Trauma to the mouth from playing contact sports can leave you in pain. It can also leave you with missing teeth and a broken jaw. Once your jaw heals you’ll want to replace the missing teeth. Doing so will require dental implants.
What Are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is an artificial replacement, not for your tooth but for its root. Made with titanium metal, dental implants are inserted directly into your jawbone to stand in for the root where your natural tooth was once found. Once the implant is secured in place, an artificial tooth (or bridge if you have lost multiple teeth) is attached to it. The implant is the anchor that keeps your new replacement tooth in place.
You may be wondering if titanium will harm your jawbone. Don’t worry, titanium is used because it is a biocompatible material. Biocompatible materials don’t interfere with the living tissues that make up our bodies and will not be rejected by your body. Titanium dental implants look like cylindrical posts, sort of like nails.
What Happens If You Don’t Get Implants Following A Sports Injury?
Dental implants after you’ve lost teeth are incredibly beneficial. When you have missing teeth, you will have trouble speaking, especially if you are missing your front teeth. Chewing will become an issue, and you’ll have a hole where the tooth once was, which will make your smile less appealing, causing your confidence to plummet.
Furthermore, your facial structure will change. When we lose teeth and don’t replace them with implants, your face will age prematurely. Bone loss will occur and the muscles that let you chew your food will begin to shorten to accommodate the reduced space between your nose and your chin.
Another consequence of leaving a gaping hole where your tooth lived is that your adjacent teeth will drift into the space, creating a place for food to become trapped. You’re also at risk for tooth decay, and you may lose lip support.
What Is The Implantation Procedure Like?
The dental implantation procedure has several steps:
- X-rays will be taken of your head, teeth and jaws to ensure that you are a good candidate for implants. Chances are, if you are in general good health, your jaw can support the implants.
- If you are deemed a good candidate, the implant will be placed into your jawbone beneath the gum tissue. Then, your gum tissue is stitched back into its original position.
- You will need to take a few months to allow the tissue to heal and let osseointegration occur. Osseointegration is the process of your jawbone bonding with the implant and your gum fully attaching.
- Once you’ve healed, an abutment will be attached to the implant. This is the structure that connects your implant to the replacement tooth.
- After the abutment is in place, the artificial tooth (or bridge depending on how many teeth you lost) is attached to it. It may take several appointments to get the replacement tooth into proper positioning.
Your dentist may not perform implantation in-house and may refer you to specialist. Moreover, some people do not have enough jawbone to hold the implant in place. If this is the case, bone augmentation may be recommended. This is a procedure that involves increasing the width and height of the bone by grafting bone (or safe bonelike materials) to your jaw. You can use your own bone for the graft or a processed bone-like material. Following a grafting procedure, it takes about nine months before the new bone fuses with your existing bone. Another problem that may delay your implantation procedure is if the teeth in the upper back area of your mouth live too close to your sinuses. You can undergo a sinus shrinking procedure before the implants to ensure they will not get in the way.
It’s important to remember that implantation is a surgical procedure. As with any surgery, you will need to give your body a chance to kick its natural healing process into high gear. This means no smoking while you recover. You will also need to stay away from contact sports to ensure you do not get hit in the jaw and undo the positive effects of your implantation procedure.
Dental implants look and feel like real teeth, so you have to treat them as such by brushing and flossing as you normally would. Please contact Dawson Dental for more information about dental implants and to book your appointment.