Everything You Need to Know About the Process of Dental Implants
Dental implants are far more common than they were even just a few years ago, and most patients looking for the best tooth loss solution have at least heard of dental implants and are willing to consider them.
But to many, the process by which dental implants are installed is still unfamiliar. Below, we seek to remedy that situation and alleviate any fears/concerns you may have about dental implants by introducing you to the basics of how the process works.
The Initial Exam
In order to determine if dental implants are right for you or to map out the most appropriate treatment plan, your dentist or periodontist will first take X-rays of your teeth, jawbone, and whole oral cavity.
In order to receive implants, you must have sufficient bone mass in your alveolar ridge (the part of your jawbone that teeth are lodged in). When teeth have been missing for a long time, the periodontal and bone tissue below the missing tooth will shrink. And wearing traditional dentures can also wear away at your alveolar ridge.
If your bone is too thin, implants can still be done, but bone grafting surgery will need to take place first to build up a strong foundation for the implants to rest in.
During the initial exam, you should also inform your dentist of any medical conditions you have or any medications you are taking. This is important for your dentist to know when deciding on which oral sedation method, local anesthetic, and post-surgical antibiotics to use.
A Multi-Stage Surgery
In most cases, dental implant surgery takes place in multiple steps, and the entire process takes several months. The reason for this is that your mouth needs to heal between stages and the implant root needs time to fuse to the underlying jawbone.
After administering the local anesthetic, your dental surgeon will cut through the periodontal (gum) tissue to make room for the screw-like titanium metal implant root.
With endosteal implants, a small hole is drilled into the jawbone and the implant is placed in the hole. With subperiosteal implants, the metal root rests on top of the jawbone. Either way, it will fuse to the bone as your mouth heals from the surgery, ensuring your new teeth will be firmly fixed in place.
After the implant root is placed, a temporary denture or other temporary tooth is often worn while the bone and gums heal. You won’t want to bite down on this temporary fitting, but it will protect the implant and help aesthetically.
In some cases, a second surgery is done to place an “abutment” on the implant root, to which the dental crown will later be affixed. This will mean cutting back the gum tissue to install the abutment, followed by a further period of healing. However, some types of dental implants will have the abutment placed during the first and only surgery.
Dental implants are successful around 99% of the time, but there are some minor, temporary discomforts that can occur immediately following implant surgery.
Some may experience swelling of the gums, minor bleeding, and a degree of pain at the implant site. For this reason, your oral surgeon may prescribe antibiotics or other medications to use during the healing process.
You may also need to eat only soft foods for up to 2 weeks after surgery. And you will need to follow your dentist’s instructions for cleaning and caring for the implant.
To learn more about dental implants or to schedule a free initial consultation, feel free to contact Manuel Stefan Dental Care in the Orlando Area.