A Comprehensive Guide to The Dental Implants Procedure
A dental implant is a procedure that involves replacing a missing or damaged tooth with an artificial one. Learn more about this procedure and what to expect.
Dental implant surgery is a procedure designed to replace tooth roots using metal screw-like posts. It also involves replacing damaged or missing teeth with artificial teeth that closely resemble and function like natural ones. This surgery can be a preferable option when traditional dentures or bridgework do not fit well. They’re also best for when there is a lack of natural tooth roots to support dentures or bridgework tooth replacements.
The specific approach to dental implant surgery varies depending on the type of implant and the condition of the jawbone. The process may involve multiple procedures. A major advantage of implants is that they provide sturdy support for the new teeth by allowing the bone to tightly heal around the implant. However, this healing period requires considerable time, often extending over several months. To learn more about dental implant healing stages, click here.
Preparation for the Procedure
To prepare for dental implants, a comprehensive evaluation is necessary. This may involve various specialists, including oral and maxillofacial surgeons, periodontists, prosthodontists, or sometimes ENT specialists. This evaluation process typically includes:
- A thorough dental examination, possibly with dental X-rays and 3D images, along with creating models of your teeth and jaw.
- Reviewing your medical history, including information about any medical conditions and medications you are currently taking. These include prescription and over-the-counter medications as well as supplements. For individuals with certain heart conditions or orthopaedic implants, antibiotics might be prescribed before surgery to minimise the risk of infection.
- Creating a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs your dentist will consider factors such as the number of teeth to be replaced and the condition of your jawbone and remaining teeth.
During the actual surgery, various anaesthesia options are available to manage pain, including local anaesthesia, sedation, or general anaesthesia. It's essential to discuss these options with your dental specialist to determine which is most suitable for you.
Your dental care team will provide instructions on eating and drinking before the procedure, depending on the type of anaesthesia administered. If sedation or general anaesthesia is used, arrangements should be made for someone to accompany you home after the surgery. You should then plan to rest for the remaining part of the day.
What to Expect During Dental Implant Surgery
Dental implant surgery is typically an outpatient procedure carried out in multiple stages, with healing intervals between each step. The process of placing a dental implant involves several sequential stages:
- Removal of the damaged tooth.
- Preparation of the jawbone, which may involve grafting if necessary.
- Placement of the dental implant.
- Bone growth and healing around the implant.
- Placement of the abutment, which connects the implant to the artificial tooth.
- Attachment of the artificial tooth.
The entire process can span several months, mainly due to the time required for healing and the growth of new bone in the jaw. Depending on individual circumstances, specific procedures, or materials used, certain steps can sometimes be combined to expedite the process.
When bone grafting is necessary:
If your jawbone lacks sufficient thickness or is too soft, bone grafting might be necessary before undergoing dental implant surgery. This is because the pressure exerted by the chewing action in your mouth requires a sturdy bone foundation to support the implant. A bone graft can create a more solid base for the implant to ensure successful results.
The growth of new bone to support a dental implant may take several months after the bone grafting procedure. In some cases, minor bone grafting may be sufficient, and it can be performed at the same time as the implant surgery. The condition of your jawbone determines the appropriate course of action.
Placing the dental implant:
During the dental implant surgery, your oral surgeon will make an incision to open your gum and expose the underlying bone. Small holes are then drilled into the bone to accommodate the metal post of the dental implant, which will act as the artificial tooth root. The post is placed deep within the bone to ensure stability.
After this stage, there will still be a gap where your natural tooth is missing. To address appearance concerns, if necessary, a partial, temporary denture can be used. This denture can be removed for cleaning or before going to sleep.
Waiting for bone growth:
Following the placement of the metal implant post in your jawbone, a process called osseointegration takes place. During osseointegration, the jawbone grows and fuses with the surface of the dental implant, creating a strong foundation for the new artificial tooth. This integration process typically spans several months.
Placing the abutment:
Once osseointegration is complete, a minor surgery may be required to place the abutment. The abutment is the component where the crown (an artificial tooth) will eventually be attached. This step is usually carried out in an outpatient setting with local anaesthesia.
To place the abutment:
- Your oral surgeon will reopen your gum to expose the dental implant.
- The abutment is then securely attached to the dental implant.
- The gum tissue is closed around the abutment, leaving it visible above the gumline.
After the abutment is in place, your gums will require about two weeks to heal before the artificial tooth can be attached to complete the dental implant process.
Your dentist may prescribe pain medications or antibiotics after the surgery. If you notice that swelling, discomfort, or any other issue worsens in the days following the procedure, it's important to contact your dentist.
To ensure the longevity of your dental work and natural teeth, you can follow these recommendations:
- Maintain excellent oral hygiene: Just like with your natural teeth, it is essential to keep implants, artificial teeth, and gum tissue clean. You can use specially designed brushes, such as interdental brushes, to effectively clean the areas around teeth, gums, and metal posts.
- Regularly visit your dentist: Schedule regular dental check-ups to ensure the health and proper functioning of your implants. You should also adhere to the advice provided for professional cleaning.
- Avoid habits that may cause damage: Refrain from chewing on hard objects like ice and hard candy, as they can potentially damage both the crowns and your natural teeth. Additionally, avoid using tobacco and consuming caffeine products, as they can stain your teeth. If you have a teeth-grinding habit, seek treatment to prevent further complications.
Now that you know what the dental implant procedure entails, you’re almost ready to get your implants. All that’s left to do is book a consultation with us, and we’ll be happy to take it from there!