Category: Adult Dentistry, Common Questions, Dr. Advocate's Insight
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.
We’ll journey from the initial consultation to the placement of your new tooth, unraveling each step of the dental implant surgery process. 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
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.
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.
Dental implants are the longest-lasting option available for replacing lost teeth.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
The more you know, the more healthy habits you can develop, saving you and your family from avoidable and potentially expensive dental procedures. Talk to your dental professional for more suggestions on improving oral health and check back for more blog posts and relevant information. Please share this site and let us know what else you’d like to know!