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When you have gaps in your smile, you might not feel as confident about flashing your teeth as you once did. Luckily, modern dentistry has several options for you so you can fill the gaps. These options include bridges, full or partial dentures, and dental implants. All of these options give you a comfortable and natural-looking replacement option, but many people prefer dental implants because of their permanence.

Just like natural teeth, implants anchor into your jaw. They prevent jawbone deterioration and a misaligned bite from missing teeth. They also allow you to chew and speak just as you would with your natural set of pearly whites. Learn more about this dental replacement option below.

How Do You Prepare for Dental Implant Surgery?

To prepare for this surgery, you have to boost your body’s immune system and healing ability. Follow the steps in this list to ensure your body is ready:

• Eat hearty, nutritional meals in the days leading up to your surgery. Your dentist may recommend that you don’t eat 24 hours before, but in the week preceding the procedure, make sure you ingest as many nutrients as possible. Nutrients from fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins help your body build healthy cells, including immune response cells.
• Drink at least 64 ounces of water every day. You should do this task anyway because doctors recommend that you drink at least that much. When you drink 64 ounces or more, you keep your body hydrated. A hydrated body has less inflammation, better blood flow, and an improved immune response. All of these factors contribute to a successful surgery.
• Do light exercise and get plenty of rest. Light exercise stimulates blood flow, while rest saves your body’s energy for the healing process after you get your implant.
• Do not drink alcohol or caffeine. Both substances contribute to dehydration. Dehydration lowers your body’s ability to heal or fight off infection, so keep these substances to a minimum until after you’ve healed.
• Do not smoke in the days before and after your procedure. Cigarettes and chewing tobacco contain harmful chemicals that injure the tissues inside your mouth. And the weaker your oral tissues are, the less likely your implant surgery will succeed. Nicotine and tobacco also dehydrate your body. Stay away from harmful substances until after you heal, or take this opportunity to quit.
• Meet with your dentist or oral surgeon for an assessment. This assessment will check your dental health to ensure your mouth meets the minimum requirements for implants.

You can also do small things like stock treats in the pantry and precooked meals in the freezer. Make sure you stick with soft foods, at least for a little while. Make yourself a comfortable area near the television or a stack of books so you don’t have to exert yourself after the surgery. You’ll need plenty of rest.

Do You Have to Meet Any Eligibility Requirements?

To qualify for implant surgery, you have to meet a few minimum criteria. Most people already meet them, but browse the list to ensure you won’t have any problems:

• You must have adequate jawbone density. If your jaw has deteriorated due to a lack of teeth, illness, or substance abuse, you may have to change your habits and get a bone graft before you can install implants.
• You cannot clench your teeth consciously or unconsciously. If you clench your teeth, you could compromise the healing process after the surgery. Discuss your options with your dentist.
• You have to have good oral health and good overall health. As with any surgery, you cannot go into it if you have a high risk for infection. So if you smoke, abuse drugs, have a disease, are dangerously overweight, or are in any other situation that would compromise your immune system, you might have to heal or change your lifestyle before you can get implants.

Once you meet these requirements, you have the green light for the installation procedure.

What Does Dental Implant Surgery Entail?

Implant surgery usually involves at least three visits-but you may have more. To install your implants, your dentist or oral surgeon will do the following:

• He or she will open your gums and install the implant’s “root” or titanium screw into your jawbone. You will then have a healing period so the bone can grow around the screw and anchor it in place.
• Your dentist will open your gums again and install a post to the titanium screw. You will again go through a healing period as your gums grow around the post.
• After your gums have healed, your dentist will take a mold of the post and the surrounding teeth and make a crown that has the same color and general shape as the rest of your teeth. He or she will then install the crown.

Once the crown is in place, you will have a full, beautiful smile again.

How Do You Heal After the Surgery?

Continue the regimen that you used to prepare for the surgery. You still need nutrients, water, and rest to make sure you heal properly. Your implants, in the meantime, should receive the same care as the rest of your teeth. Just make sure you treat them gently until they heal, otherwise they could develop an infection or scar. But as long as you manage them responsibly, you shouldn’t have any problems.

Dental implants give you a more or less permanent and highly comfortable way to restore your smile. If this procedure interests you, schedule a meeting with your dentist to learn more.