A dental implant procedure is a form of dentistry surgery.
It is performed by inserting artificial tooth roots and replacing damaged or missing teeth with artificial teeth that look and function much like real ones. Your dentist will input these implants which will graft with your jawbone, and allow your dentist or oral surgeon to place the crowns (the replacement teeth) on the implants.
Dental implants are appropriate methods of treatment if you have one or more permanent teeth missing. These implants are made in a way to function just you’re your natural teeth would, and also look and feel the same.
The condition of your jawbone, in addition to the type of implants your dentist utilizes, will determine how your dental implant surgery is performed.
Dental implant surgery may involve various procedures.
Implants are done to support your new teeth and require the bone to heal around the implant. Because this bone healing requires time, the process can take many months.
A dental implant procedure is an outpatient surgery. The implant is made of titanium and other materials that bond with your jawbone and replace the root of your tooth. These artificial roots allow the dentist to secure the crowns (the replacement teeth) to make them feel stable and blend in with your surrounding natural teeth.
Dental implants require several appointments and may include visits for:
Fixed bridgework or dentures can sometimes slip, make noise, or cause bone damage. Implants, however, are typically better treatments because the titanium in the implants fuses with your jawbone and therefore the implants don’t slip.
Also, your natural teeth that support regular bridgework can sometimes decay, but with implants, the material won’t decay as your existing teeth can.
In general, you might be qualified for dental implants if you:
A dental implant procedure is typically done at a dental office and performed by a team of professionals trained in oral surgery and restorative dentistry.
Before any procedure, you will have an appointment to visit your dentist for a primary consultation.
During this visit, your dentist will:
Your doctor may prescribe additional antibiotics prior to your surgery if you have orthopedic implants or certain heart conditions.
Later, when you have come to an agreement on a specific plan, and your doctor determines that you are in otherwise good health, the surgery appointment will be scheduled.
The anesthesia options for this procedure include:
Depending on the recommendation of your dentist for anesthesia options, you may need to arrange for someone to bring you home following the surgery that day.
If the procedure is performed under general anesthesia, doctors usually recommend you not eat anything after midnight the night before the surgery to make sure your stomach is empty.
If you are having local anesthesia, you might be allowed to eat a light meal a couple of hours before the surgery.
If you are a regular smoker, discuss with your dentist whether dental implants are the best option for you. Smoking may lower the success of dental implants because it can slow the healing.
Make sure to ask any questions you may have, via our free medical consultation services.
The dental implant procedure is done across several appointments, usually several months apart. A big portion of that time is required for healing and waiting for the growth of new bone in your jaw.
Depending on the procedure, materials used, and your situation, sometimes certain steps of the procedure can be combined and done during the same appointment.
Generally, placing a dental implant involves these steps:
You may need bone grafting before you can have dental implant surgery if your jawbone is too soft and not thick enough.
That’s because the powerful chewing action of your mouth exerts great pressure on your bone, and if it can’t support the implant, the chances of the surgery failing will increase. A bone graft can create a more supportive base for the implant.
If in your case the bone grafting is minor, it can be done simultaneously with the implant surgery.
Talk to your doctor about options that will work best for you. Several bone graft materials can be used to rebuild a jawbone. Options can include:
During the first step – the surgical placement of the implant – your dentist will completely numb your mouth with local anesthesia, or give you IV sedation so you don’t experience any discomfort or pain during the procedure.
During surgery to place the dental implant, your oral surgeon will make a cut to open your gum and expose the bone. They will drill holes into the bone, where the dental implant metal post will be placed deeply into the bone. This post will be the root of your tooth.
After the implant is placed, your dentist will close the gums over the implant and keep it covered.
The place of your missing tooth will still be empty, so a type of partial denture can be placed temporarily for appearance if needed. Your dentist may recommend you to remove the denture for sleeping and when it needs to be cleaned.
After the implants are placed, you will be asked to take some time to recover at home and return for the second phase of the procedure in a few months.
This will give enough time to the bone to grow around the implant, making it thick enough to stay in place. This process is called osseointegration, which during, the jawbone grows into and fuses with the surface of the dental implant.
Each patient heals differently, so keep in mind that it can take up to six months for your bone growth to be complete, and before the crowns can be placed. In some cases, a patient can have all the components placed in one appointment.
The abutment is the part where the replacement teeth are going to eventually attach and is the piece that will hold the crowns. When the process of osseointegration is complete, you may need a small additional surgery to place the abutment.
This minor procedure is typically performed with local anesthesia in an outpatient setting.
To place the abutment:
Depending on your situation, your dentist may attach the abutment simultaneously with the initial dental implant procedure, and you may not need this additional minor surgery for the abutment placement.
After the abutment is placed, your gums will need time to recover and heal for about two weeks before the artificial tooth can be attached.
When your gums are properly healed, your dentist will make impressions of your teeth and create a custom replacement tooth, known as a crown, which is made to function and look exactly like your natural teeth.
Artificial teeth can come in 2 types:
1. Fixed: In this type, an artificial tooth is permanently screwed or cemented onto an individual implant abutment. With these implants, you won’t be able to remove the tooth during sleeping or cleaning.
Implants are generally very strong, so if your new replacement teeth are bridged together, several of them can be replaced by one implant.
2. Removable: This type is similar to a conventional removable denture – either partial or full.
This type is attached to a metal frame that goes on top of the implant abutment snapping securely into place and contains artificial white teeth surrounded by pink artificial gum.
Removable artificial teeth can be easily removed for cleaning or repairing.
After the procedure is completed, if your dentist uses IV sedation, you may feel slightly groggy for several hours. make arrangements for someone to drive you home after the procedure.
After the implants are in place, you may experience some:
Your doctor may prescribe you pain medications or antibiotics as needed after the dental surgery or suggest over-the-counter medications such as Advil/Ibuprofen.
Make sure to contact your dentist if swelling, discomfort, or any other problem worsens in the days following the surgery.
After each phase of surgery, your doctor may recommend you to eat and drink soft foods which will allow the surgical sites to heal faster.
Typically, your surgeon will use stitches that dissolve on their own. If your stitches aren’t self-dissolving, your doctor removes them.
Like any other surgery, dental implant procedures can carry side effects and health risks. However, these complications are rare, and typically minor and easily treated if they occur.
Risks can include:
Most dental implants are successful. However, in some cases, the bone will not bond properly with the metal implant.
It is recommended not to chew hard items, such as ice and hard candy, which can break your crowns — or even your natural teeth.
Tobacco use and caffeine products can further stain the teeth and are advised to be avoided as much as possible.
In some rare cases where the bone fails to bond properly, your dentist will remove the implant, clean up the bone, and you can start with a fresh procedure again in about three months.
Just as your natural teeth need proper dental hygiene, dental implants also require regular and proper oral hygiene.
To keep both your natural teeth and the new artificial ones healthy, brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss, and remember to schedule dental checkups to ensure the health and proper functioning of your implants and follow your dentist’s advice for professional cleanings.
Dental implants don’t get tooth decay, but they can be impacted by periodontal disease, so it’s important to practice good oral hygiene.