If you’re missing a tooth or teeth, or have a damaged and infected tooth, chances are your dentist may recommend a dental implant procedure so as to have a great smile and easy means to chew food, bite and talk properly. Dental implants are artificial tooth roots used to support a fixation for a missing tooth or teeth, to prevent jaw bone loss. Experts emphasise that dental implants are made up of titanium and other materials that are suitable for the human body. Implants are small and fit into the bone under the gum, and act like regular tooth roots. Dr AbduKadir Mamataliev, a dentist at Deva Medical Center-Nyarutarama states that dental implants help keep the bone underneath the gum mass from decreasing as they stimulate bone growth. He says that the reason why dental implants are one of the best procedures to fill teeth gaps is because a person is able to talk comfortably rather than worrying that the teeth will fall out. Additionally, he carries on that the teeth don’t look or feel artificial as they’re just like someone’s teeth and are made permanent since they are fused with the bone. “Mamataliev says that with dental implants, you can eat your food without feeling pain, and yet leave you with an amazing smile, which helps people feel good about themselves,” he states. Dr Mamataliev states that dental implants are strong, which means they can last for a long time and if given the appropriate care, they can even last a lifetime. He says that when people start losing their teeth, their face loses its shape, as it’s the teeth that were supporting their facial structure, but dental implants provide the necessary support for your face just like natural teeth, which prevents the face from changing its shape. He explains that people advised to undergo dental implants are those with healthy gums and enough bone to hold the implant. But also, they must keep good oral hygiene and regular dental visits. Dr Mamataliev explains that heavy smokers, people suffering from uncontrolled chronic disorders like diabetes or heart disease should consult their doctors to advise accordingly if they’re suitable for the procedure or not. He adds that some people are not candidates for dental implants, for example those that take certain medications, such as steroids or drugs that suppress the immune system, and people who extremely grind their teeth, as this puts much pressure on the implants, thus damaging them. He carries on that some people freak out thinking that the procedure is very painful, which isn’t true. “There is just a little discomfort, and pain. The pain may not be worse than that of a tooth extraction. Local anesthesia can be used during the operation,” he says. Dr Gilbert Nuwagaba, an Adult and Pediatric Dentistry specialist explains that while brushing your teeth, avoid toothbrushes that contain hard bristles, because they can scratch the surface of the implants. He urges using toothbrushes with soft bristles, brush regularly and floss twice a day. Dr. Nuwagaba explains that the reason why flossing is necessary and healthy, is that it removes plaque that accumulates around the implants, which can risk other oral hygiene issues. He adds that after the dental implant procedure, you should avoid eating hard or sticky foods as there is a possibility of damaging your implants. Dr Nuwagaba says that immediately after your surgery and for the first week to ten days, you should avoid foods like acidic foods, such as tomatoes and citrus fruits, hot and spicy foods, including soups, coffee, tea, and foods with a lot of spices or peppers, crunchy and hard foods, like potato chips, hard candies, seeds, and nuts, and limit food that is difficult to chew. He says that while recovering, stick to food that is easy to chew, for instance, proteins like eggs, chicken, beef meals, and fish. For carbohydrates, he says bananas and potatoes are okay. He advises drinking lots of water to stay hydrated during the recovery period. In addition, Dr Nuwagaba warns against smoking or chewing tobacco after the operation as it is believed to slow down the healing process. He says that since dental implants take about six months to heal, smoking during that time period can be harmful. The dental expert urges visiting a doctor at least every six months for checkup.