A Patient’s Guide to Implant Dentistry Procedures and Processes
Dental implants are a permanent replacement for missing teeth. If you’ve knocked out a tooth or need a tooth extraction, then it’s worth it to talk to your dentist about how implant dentistry can help you. Once placed and covered with an artificial tooth, implants look, feel, and function like natural teeth.
Implant dentistry uses titanium metal posts that act as the root of a tooth when placed in the jawbone. Following this placement, an artificial tooth is attached to the implant, forming a new strong tooth in place of your missing tooth.
While implants permanently replace teeth, they still need good oral hygiene, just like natural teeth.
Why You Should Consider Implant Dentistry
Since the titanium posts fuse with the jawbone, implants won’t slip, make noise, or cause damage to the bone like dentures and other bridgework might. The materials also won’t contribute to tooth decay. Dental implants are a permanent option for exceptional convenience and comfort. Here’s how it all works:
How Implants Are Placed
Dental implant surgery is an outpatient procedure performed over the course of several months. If you have damaged teeth, your dental experts may start with an extraction. Regardless, all implant procedures start at the same point: an assessment and consultation.
Your dentist starts with a full assessment of your jaw and teeth. They take x-rays of your jaw and teeth to see if you are a suitable candidate for dental implants. Healthy gums and substantial bone in the jaw are needed for successful implant support.
If your dentist or oral surgeon finds that your gums and jawbone aren’t in good condition for an implant, they may recommend a bone graft first. Once your jaw has healed from the bone graft, you can then start the implant placement.
First Stage of Surgery
Once you’re cleared for implant placement, your oral surgeon will insert the dental implant into the jawbone underneath the gums. They will then stitch the gums. You will return to your dentist in a few months for the second stage of the procedure, giving the implant time to bond to the jawbone and attach to the gum.
Second Stage of Surgery
When the gums have healed, your oral surgeon will attach an abutment (post) to the implant. This is used to connect the replacement tooth to the implant.
Your specialist will design an artificial replacement tooth (crown) to match your natural teeth. This will then be placed on the abutment and fitted.
If you have several teeth missing, you may have a fixed bridge attached to dental implants instead of individual replacement teeth. A bridge is made up of multiple artificial teeth that will span a gap to take the place of missing teeth. Dental implants hold bridges firmly in place on each side of the missing teeth.
Implant Care and Hygiene
To ensure your implants stay healthy, you must take care of them—and the rest of your teeth—with regular flossing, brushing, and visits to the dentist for checkups and cleanings. Your dentist will also want to see how your implants fit during checkups. This ensures they’re not loose and that they aren’t affecting your bite.
For a permanent and convenient option for replacing missing teeth, talk to your dentist about dental implants, and see if this procedure is right for you.