If you’re like most people in Tulsa, OK, with dental health issues, you’ve probably heard the term “full-mouth replacement,” and perhaps you’re wondering if they’re an option for you. No one can tell you that for sure except your dentist, but here’s some basic information to you started:
What Is a Full-Mouth Replacement?
As its name implies, a full-mouth replacement is the replacement of all or most of the teeth. Full-mouth replacements will be different for every patient because they’re designed to be customized to meet the individual dental health, functionality, and aesthetic needs of each individual patient. Most of those who require full-mouth replacements experience multiple dental issues, and the process will be different depending on what those issues are and their level of seriousness.
What Does Full-Mouth Replacement Entail?
Traditional dentures work by adhering to your gum tissues with the help of dental adhesives. However, advances in dental technology have made it possible to secure the prosthetic teeth to the bone material in the jaw by installing implant posts. Implant posts are made from titanium alloy because this material has been found to have an extraordinary capacity for fusing with human tissues.
If the patient lacks enough bone tissue to make having implants installed a viable option, bone grafting may be an option. After the implants are installed, there will be a recovery period which allows them to completely bond with the bone tissue. After this occurs, the prosthetic teeth can then be secured to the implant posts.
How Long Does Full-Mouth Replacement Take?
Most of the time, after your first surgery, you will have beautiful teeth attached to final implants. They are more for looks as they can only handle light “loading” on movement for about 3 to 4 months. After this, final restorations can be designed, fabricated and attached to your implants. Total process time is generally 5 to 10 months depending on individual factors that affect wait times. All this can be discussed prior to your first surgery.
The typical full-mouth replacement process involves three stages. The first stage is the extraction of all remaining teeth. The second stage is the installation of the titanium posts, and the third stage is the attachment of the prosthetic teeth. As mentioned, if an initial added stage involving bone grafting is necessary, it will add to the overall length of time, and this will vary per individual patient.
Is Full-Mouth Replacement Painful?
All stages of full-mouth replacement can be performed using local or general anesthesia depending on patient needs and preferences, so you will not feel any pain during the procedures themselves. There may be some associated discomfort and minor pain after the procedures have been performed, but this can usually be handled by taking an over-the-counter pain reliever with anti-inflammatory properties. Your dentist may also choose to prescribe a prescription-strength painkiller for the first couple of days after extracting the natural teeth and placing the implants into the bone tissues.
You can help avoid pain and discomfort by sticking with a soft diet and avoiding foods or beverages that involve temperature extremes. It’s best to drink beverages out of a straw at this point in order to circumvent contact with the affected areas. If you experience abnormal pain or have reason to believe your dental tissues have become infected, contact your dentist right away.
How Long Is the Recovery Period for Full-Mouth Replacement?
Recovery periods will depend on the individual circumstances of each patient. It’s important to remember that good oral hygiene is essential during every phase of the full-mouth replacement process because of the risk of infection — the recovery phase will be much longer if infected dental tissues become part of the picture.
The majority of the recovery time will take place after the titanium alloy posts have been installed. Gum tissue generally heals in 2 to 3 weeks. Typically, no pain is associated in the surgery after this initial healing. The bone will grow to the surface at the implant and then harden over a 3 to 4 month process, but this is not considered recovery. It is called osseointegration and pain free.
There should be no discomfort or pain after the prosthetic teeth are attached, although it may take a day or so to get used to wearing them.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Full-Mouth Replacement?
Most adults are good candidates for full-mouth replacements. The procedure is not recommended for children because their bones have not yet stopped growing, and implants may shift significantly as a result of continued growth. However, if you have severe gum disease, your dentist may recommend getting it under control before moving forward with full-mouth replacement. You may also not be a good candidate if you are receiving chemotherapy, have autoimmune issues, or have diabetes that is not under control.
What Does Aftercare for Full-Mouth Replacement Involve?
Aftercare for full-mouth replacement is much the same as maintaining natural teeth. For the initial 2 weeks following surgery, you will be gently rinsing with a prescription rinse until the gum tissue heals. After 2 weeks, oral hygiene will be demonstrated including brushing and flossing. You will want to do this at least 2 times per day. You should also avoid smoking, sticky or hard foods, sugary beverages, and chewing on ice, pencils, or other hard objects. Talk to your dentist about preventive options if you grind, clench, or gnash your teeth in your sleep.
Does Full-Mouth Replacement Last for a Lifetime?
Properly cared for implants can last for a long time. Whether they will last you for the rest of your life depends on a variety of factors, such as overall health, whether gum disease becomes part of the picture, and whether bone tissue loss occurs.
Please feel free to contact us for more information on full-mouth replacement. Dr. Chris Ward is considered one of the top implant specialists in Tulsa, OK, and surrounding areas, so you’re sure to be in the best possible hands.