Step-By-Step Dental Implant Procedure Photos
Matt Hannan, DDS
Updated: August 3, 2023
Picture a world where losing a tooth doesn’t mean a lifetime of awkward smiles or discomfort while eating your favorite foods. With modern dental technology, dental implants make this world a reality.
They are the closest you can get to healthy, natural teeth, offering the freedom to live, laugh, and enjoy life without feeling self-conscious.
The power to transform your smile is immense, and understanding what’s involved is your first step towards a healthier, brighter future from a dentist’s perspective.
WARNING: Please be advised that this guide contains actual photos from dental implant surgeries. Images and information used in this guide have been sourced from the ‘Color Atlas of Dental Implant Surgery’ by Dr. Michael S. Block.Recommended Reading: Dental Implants | The Ultimate Guide
Consultation & Planning
This is the first and crucial step for dental implant surgery. During the consultation, your oral surgeon or dentist will assess your oral health condition using various diagnostic tools. This can include digital X-rays, CT scans, and dental impressions.
The goal is to ensure sufficient bone quantity and quality to support the implant and visualize the exact position where the implant will be placed. This is also the stage where your dentist will discuss the procedure details, costs, and answer any of your questions.
- Oral Health Assessment: Your dentist or oral surgeon will evaluate your oral health, focusing on the area where the implant will be placed.
- Diagnostic Tools: Digital X-rays, CT scans, and dental impressions are commonly used for accurate planning and assessment.
- Bone Quantity and Quality: It’s crucial to ensure there’s enough bone and quality to support the implant.
- Implant Position: Using the gathered data, the exact position of the implant is determined.
- Procedure Discussion: Your dentist will explain the details of the procedure, discuss costs, and answer any questions you may have.
Dental implant surgery is a routine procedure performed by thousands of dentists and has a success rate of over 98%.
If the tooth that requires replacement is still present, it must be removed before the implant procedure can start. This is typically done under local anesthesia. In some cases, if the condition of the bone is excellent, an immediate implant placement could be possible, where the implant is placed at the same time as the tooth extraction.
However, traditionally, after extraction, there is a waiting period to allow the area to heal before the implant can be placed. Your dentist will discuss the best approach to your situation during the consultation phase.
- Tooth Removal: The existing tooth must be removed before implant placement, typically under local anesthesia.
- Immediate Implant Placement: In some cases with excellent bone condition, the implant might be placed immediately after tooth extraction.
- Healing Time: Traditional procedure involves a healing period after tooth extraction before the implant placement.
- Personalized Approach: Your dentist will discuss the best approach tailored to your specific situation during the consultation phase.
Dental implants are the longest-lasting option available for replacing lost teeth.
Bone Grafting (if necessary)
In cases where there isn’t enough bone in the jaw to support an implant, a bone graft is necessary. Bone grafting involves adding bone (or bone substitute) to the area to create a more solid base for the implant. This can come from another body part, a donor, or a synthetic material.
Depending on the amount of grafting needed, there might be a waiting period of a few months to allow the graft to heal and create new, strong bone that can support the implant.
- Necessity of Bone Grafting: When there isn’t enough bone to support an implant, bone grafting is required.
- What is Bone Grafting?: This process involves adding bone or bone substitute to the area to create a solid base for the implant.
- Source of Bone: The bone used for grafting can come from the patient’s body, a donor, or synthetic material.
- Regeneration: The graft encourages the body to regenerate its own bone, which then integrates with the implant, providing necessary support.
- Healing Time: Depending on the amount of grafting needed, healing can take a few months before the implant procedure can begin.
This is the stage where the titanium implant post is surgically placed into the missing tooth’s bone socket. The implant serves as a replacement for the tooth root. After the placement, osseointegration begins, where the bone grows around the implant and incorporates it securely. This healing process can take several months.
- Implant Insertion: The titanium implant post, which replaces the tooth root, is surgically inserted into the missing tooth’s bone socket.
- Osseointegration: This is the process where the bone grows around the implant, securely integrating it.
- Healing Time: The healing process can take several months, crucial for the implant’s stability and durability.
- Material: Implants are typically made of titanium due to its biocompatible properties, allowing it to bond with the jawbone effectively.
Dental implants are made of materials that are not affected in the same way as natural teeth, so they cannot form cavities.
Once the implant is securely integrated into the bone, the next step is to attach an abutment, or connector post, to the implant. This post will hold the new tooth. In some cases, the abutment can be placed during the implant surgery.
However, if the abutment is placed separately, a small incision is made in the gum to expose the implant, the abutment is attached, and then a healing period follows for the gum to heal around the abutment.
- Abutment Attachment: Once the implant is securely integrated into the bone, an abutment (connector post) is attached. This post will hold the new tooth.
- Same-day Placement: In some scenarios, the abutment can be placed during the same procedure as the implant surgery.
- Separate Procedure: If the abutment is placed separately, a small incision is made in the gum to expose the implant, the abutment is then attached.
- Healing Time: After abutment placement, a healing period is necessary for the gum to heal around the abutment.
After the abutment is in place and the gum tissue has healed, the final step is to place the crown, which is the tooth-looking part. The crown is custom-made to match the color and shape of your natural teeth for a seamless appearance. Once attached to the abutment, it completes the process of dental implant surgery.
- Final Step: Crown placement is the final step of the dental implant procedure.
- Healed Gum Tissue: The crown is placed after the gum tissue has healed post-abutment placement.
- Custom-Made Crown: The crown is specially designed to match the color and shape of your natural teeth for a seamless appearance.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The dental implant process typically takes several months. This allows for healing time between procedures such as tooth extraction, bone grafting, implant placement, and crown placement. The specific timeframe can vary depending on individual healing rates and whether any additional procedures like bone grafting are required.
The procedure is typically performed under local anesthesia, so you should not feel pain during the surgery itself. After the anesthesia wears off, there might be some discomfort, similar to that of a tooth extraction. This can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain medications and should gradually decrease over time.
While dental implants are a common solution for missing teeth, they're not suitable for everyone. Patients need to have healthy gums and enough bone to hold the implant. People who smoke heavily, suffer from uncontrolled chronic disorders such as diabetes or heart disease, or have had radiation therapy to the head/neck area need to be evaluated on an individual basis.
After surgery, it's essential to maintain good oral hygiene to aid healing and prevent infection. This includes regular brushing and flossing, as well as rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash. Avoid smoking, as it can inhibit the healing process. Regular dental check-ups are also vital to monitor the health of your implant and surrounding teeth.
My Experience & Expertise
As a dentist, I take great satisfaction in guiding patients through the transformative journey of dental implants. It’s not just about filling gaps in your smile; it’s about restoring your confidence, comfort, and ability to enjoy life’s simple pleasures.
I hope this detailed guide has provided you with valuable insights into what the procedure entails, dispelling any fears and arming you with knowledge. Remember, every patient’s journey is unique, but the end goal remains the same – a healthy, vibrant smile that lasts a lifetime.”
Knowledge is power when cultivating healthy dental habits. The more informed you are, the better positioned you’ll be to prevent avoidable and potentially costly dental procedures for you and your family. Watch for future blog posts, where we’ll continue sharing important information, product reviews and practical advice!