Many of our patients have heard about dental implants but aren’t very sure about the procedure, what to expect and how they can take post-surgical care. This blog post is a detailed guide aimed to clear all doubts and explain more about dental implants:
What are Dental Implants?
Although there is a significant improvement in dental care, millions of the world over suffer from tooth loss, mainly due to tooth decay, periodontal disease or accidents.
For several years the only option available for missing teeth was bridges and dentures. But today, implants are available.
Dental implants provide replacement tooth roots and a strong foundation for fixed or removable replacement teeth. These teeth are created to match your natural teeth.
What happens during dental implant surgery?
Dental implant surgery is when the root area of the missing tooth is replaced with metal, screw-like posts where the artificial teeth can be inserted. The new teeth look and act just like your natural teeth. So, dental implant surgery is a great alternative to dentures or poor fitting bridge work.
The surgery itself is performed in several steps based on the kind of implant one is opting for and the general health of your jawbone. This is because the process requires the jawbone to heal snugly around the dental implant area integrating it into the gumline just like it is a natural tooth. This process is called osseointegration. Often, titanium is used in his process because it fuses the implant very well with the bone, stays firm and doesn’t decay like other material.
Tooth Implant Process
Many surgical procedures are required for dental implants. Your dental surgeon typically undertakes a full evaluation that uses X-rays and teeth models to make sure that the implants match your natural teeth as much as possible.
Secondly, the condition of your jawbone is evaluated in the context of the number of teeth you plan to replace with implants. This might require a collaborative consultation with a periodontist or maxillofacial surgeon – based on your requirement.
Additionally, the doctor will evaluate your overall health and pre-existing conditions, including the medication you are currently on. If you have a heart condition or orthopedic implants, this is an ideal time to share the information.
The surgery itself will require a day and you will need to arrange for a friend or family member to drive you to and from the surgery.
The actual dental implant surgery is often carried out in stages, because the jawbone needs to heal fully well before further procedures. The process looks something like this:
- The damaged tooth is removed fully
- The jawbone is prepared for surgery
- After the jawbone heals, the implant is inserted into the gum line.
- The jaw is given some time to recover after which the surgeon places the abutment.
- The actual process can take up to a couple of months so that the jaw heals and is ready for the final installation of the implant. However, a strong jawbone is key to a successful surgery
Why is Bone Grafting required?
If your existing jawbone site for the implant placement is not thick or healthy enough, the implant won’t hold well. The bones need to be extra strong to tackle both the chewing and to protect the implant once it is inserted.
Some patients may need a little extra bone to be added so that the implant site has a robust foundation. This is where bone grafting comes in. Here, a small bit of bone is transplanted to help strengthen the jaw bone. This bit of bone is usually taken from another area in the upper or lower jawbone away from the dental implant area. It could also come from a different body part.
Often the bone grafting is done at the same time as the implant surgery. Patients are also given a temporary denture to give the appearance of a full tooth.
Around this time, a process called osseointegration happens. This is when the bone starts growing into and fusing with the implant surface so that it becomes a part of your natural gum line. This may take anywhere between 3-9 months.
After the implant is fully healed and osseointegration is complete, the surgeon will install an abutment. This is a piece that screws into the root or the implant and where the artificial teeth will be attached. Of all the procedures, the abutment installation is a minor one and is usually carried out using a local anesthesia.
Choosing New Teeth
After the gums are healed, the dentist will take impressions of your mouth and remaining teeth to construct the artificial tooth or crown for your implant. There are two options available to patients – removable implant prosthesis and fixed implant prosthesis.
Patients will experience some discomfort after this surgery. Often the gums and face might swell, or there might be bruising of the gums or skin. You may also expect some pain at the site of your surgery or minor bleeding. Dentists will also suggest appropriate care and diet to be taken post-surgery. The dentist will also provide a list of do’s and don’ts and hygiene information.
If you would like to schedule an appointment for a dental implant surgery, contact