Patients tend to have a lot of questions and concerns regarding dental implants. To some, the procedure might seem complicated and even frightening. But in actuality, the process is relatively straightforward and virtually painless. From tooth removal, to implant placement, to recovery, we intend to demystify this standard dental procedure and answer any questions you might have, ultimately demonstrating that, when it comes to dental implants, there’s really nothing to worry about.
1.Damaged Tooth Removal
Tooth removal is one of the most common dental surgical procedures. The dental surgeon will begin by numbing your mouth with local anesthesia, so you won’t feel a thing. After the anesthesia sets in, they will begin the extraction process. The extraction will be quick and painless.
2. Jawbone Preparation (Grafting)
Your dental surgeon will only perform a bone graft if your jawbone is too soft or too thin to support your dental implants. Several materials can be used to strengthen a jawbone, including:
- Natural bone: taken from another area of your body
- Synthetic bone: typically composed of hydroxyapatite and calcium sulfate
Discuss these options with your doctor to find out which one works best for you.
Depending on the condition of your jawbone, you’ll either require a standard bone graft or a minor bone graft. A minor bone graft can be performed at the same time as the implant, while a standard bone graft may take several months of growth before the jawbone is sufficiently strong enough to support the implants.
3. Dental Implant Placement
To place the implant, your surgeon will make a small incision in your gum allowing access to the bone. A small hole is then drilled into the bone and the metal dental implant post is placed.
This dental implant post is used to attach the abutment, which in turn is used to affix the artificial tooth. But first, the bone around the implant needs to grow and fuse with the metal, giving the implant a sturdy base. This process is called osseointegration and may take up to three months before the implant is secure enough to continue the procedure.
4. Abutment Placing
The abutment is a conical metal piece that mounts onto the metal implant post above the gum line to receive the artificial tooth. While you may have the option to attach the abutment during the initial implant procedure, many patients prefer to wait until the second procedure, as they don’t like the look of the abutment without the artificial tooth attached.
If you choose to wait until the second procedure to place the abutment, additional minor surgery may be necessary to reopen the gum and expose the dental implant post. This minor surgery is performed with local anesthesia in an outpatient setting.
5. Artificial Tooth Placement
After allowing your gums to heal, it’s finally time to make your new artificial tooth. The first step in this process involves your doctor creating an impression of your mouth. The impression is then used to make a realistic crown that affixes to the abutment.
There are two types of artificial teeth from which to choose: removable, and fixed.
- Removable. Much like partial dentures, this artificial tooth snaps into place and stays securely in your mouth until you’re ready to remove it. Removable crowns are easy to put in and take out and can be cleaned or repaired with little issue.
- Fixed. Unlike dentures, a fixed crown is permanently screwed or cemented onto the implant abutment, creating the impression of a real tooth. In the hands of a skilled doctor, a fixed crown will look perfectly natural, so that no one will be able to tell that it is an artificial tooth.
Common Questions About Dental Implants
No matter how routine, when it comes to a medical procedure, It’s only natural to have questions. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding dental implants.
How Long Does a Dental Implant Take?
As discussed in the steps above, there is more than one phase in the dental implant process. Before the initial dental surgery, you will need to schedule an exam with your dentist, so they can assess the condition of your mouth and determine the proper course of action to take.
Once this exam is completed, your doctor will schedule the initial implant procedure. The procedure takes 1 to 2 hours for each implant. Once completed, you will need to wait an additional three months for the bone to grow around the implant. Once the rest of the procedure is completed, allow at least a few days for recovery before impressions of the teeth can be made. Once created, the artificial tooth is ready to be installed.
As you can see, a dental implant is a lengthy process. To get a more accurate estimate of the time it will take, speak with a dentist before and during the process.
What Can I Eat After the Procedure?
Although the area around the implant will be sensitive, and chewing may cause some discomfort, you must remember to eat after your implant procedure to keep your energy up and encourage healing. Stick to soft foods and chew away from the implant site. Avoid foods containing seeds, such as fruit or popcorn, and drink plenty of water. You should be able to go back to regular food in seven to ten days.
How Can I Encourage Healing?
Besides eating well and getting plenty of rest, there are a few additional ways to encourage a quick recovery after your procedure.
- Avoid rinsing your mouth
- Do not disturb the implant site with your tongue or fingers
- Avoid spitting and smoking
Will I Need to Take Time Off of Work?
While you should be able to go back to work the following day, we encourage our patients to schedule a couple of days off as a precaution. Rest is important for the healing process, and you may not feel up to much strenuous activity.
Will I Be In Pain?
Our patients are usually surprised by how little discomfort they experience following their implant procedure. That said, you may experience some pain. In this case, be sure to have the appropriate pain relievers at the ready. Speak with your doctor about the proper prescription for you.
Do I Need Someone to Accompany Me?
If during the procedure, you opt for sedation over local anesthesia, you must be accompanied to the office by an adult, who will then be responsible for escorting you home once the procedure is finished. Speak with your doctor about additional precautions and guidelines regarding sedation.