Dental Implants Procedure : From Start to Finish
Dental implants are used as anchors for artificial teeth, replacing a missing tooth to restore your smile and prevent jaw bone loss. Many people who get a dental implant procedure find that the process restores their facial appearance and leaves them comfortable smiling again.
If you are considering a dental implant procedure to replace a missing tooth, the first step is a consultation with your dentist. During this time, expect a physical examination and x-rays of your mouth and teeth, along with a medical history evaluation. This process will ensure that you are a good candidate for dental implants, and help the dentist in planning your dental implant procedure.
How dental implant surgery is performed depends on the style of implant, the condition of your jawbone and teeth, and other factors. All dental implant surgeries require at least two stages, which means that the implant process takes several months. Each stage may be performed with local anesthesia, sedation, or general anesthesia, and the procedure itself usually takes an hour or two.
Depending on the results of your consultation evaluation, you may need to undergo a bone grafting procedure to build up the jaw bone before the implant can be placed. This insertion of bone or soft tissues will ensure that the dental implants procedure provides a strong anchor for the artificial tooth. If there is not enough jaw bone available and the grafting procedure is not done, the implant is likely to fail.
The dental implant procedure requires a two-step process. During the first step, the gum is cut open, exposing the bone. A small hole is then drilled into the jaw bone, and a titanium screw is inserted into the hole. Then, the gum tissue is secured back over the area, and the screw is allowed to heal for three to six months. This allows for osseointegration, the process by which the implant forms a strong bond with the bone. During the second procedure, this screw is uncovered, and an artificial tooth or crown is added. Depending on the design of the implant, it may require an abutment, which is a separate device that attaches to the screw, extends beyond the gumline, and is used to attach the crown.
The recovery following dental implant placement depends on a number of factors, including the number of stages required to complete your treatment. Following each surgical stage, patients can expect some discomfort, swelling, bleeding, and bruising, although these side effects should be minor and will dissipate in about a week. Your dentist may prescribe pain medication to relieve any discomfort you feel. For about a week after the procedure, your diet will be restricted to soft foods. Any stitches used for this procedure are usually self-dissolving; otherwise, you may need to visit the dentist for removal.
If cared for properly, dental implants can be a permanent solution to a missing tooth. It is important to brush and floss regularly and avoid smoking to prevent implant failure or infection. While the implant itself can last a lifetime, the crown may need to be replaced in a few years, particularly if it becomes cracked or damaged.