Dental implants are well-tolerated, and periodontology (the study of dental
implants) has advanced greatly in recent decades. However, the process
of getting a dental implant takes time. The process of getting a dental
implant involves several stages, and because it is a lengthy process,
patients must comply with their dentist’s instructions to ensure
it goes as smoothly as possible.
Having an idea of what to expect in advance can help prepare you for this
process, which takes as long as 6 months. Although, the end result is
worth the time investment. Once you decide to proceed with dental implants,
a series of appointments will be made to remove any damaged tooth or teeth,
prepare the jawbone for surgery, place the implant and abutment, and finally,
replace the crown.
In general, you can expect the following 7 stages for the placement of
a dental implant:
Consultation: During your initial consultation, your dentist will explain your tooth
replacement options for a missing or damaged tooth.
Dental implants are often recommended over other tooth replacement options, such as dentures,
because they are more comfortable when it comes to chewing, speaking, and
oral hygiene. Dental implants are also preferred by most dentists over dentures because
the screw continues to stimulate the jaw, which helps prevent bone loss
in the area.
Extraction of the damaged tooth (if necessary): If you have a damaged tooth, your dentist will need to remove it to make
space in the jaw for the implant. This can be performed with local anesthesia,
and you will be sent home with a prescription for painkillers and an antibiotic
to prevent infection. Most patients find they need to stay home to recover
for 1 or 2 days.
Jawbone preparation with bone grafting: Often on the same day as your extraction, your dentist will place a bone
graft in the space left by the missing tooth root, so he or she can later
surgically embed the implant into your jaw. The jawbone must be strong
to place an implant, and it ensures the surgery is successful. That's
because chewing exerts powerful pressure on the jawbone. The bone graft
is a synthetic material used as a bone-substitute. Once you've gotten
a bone graft, it takes about 3 months to heal and become strong enough
to support the future implant.
Dental implant surgery: Placement of the dental implant (a titanium screw) is done by cutting open
the gum, after numbing, and exposing the bone beneath. A hole is drilled
into the bone where the metal post will be placed. This post serves as
the replacement tooth root. Once the implant is successfully placed during
the surgery, you will still have a gap where the tooth is missing because
a crown will be placed later, after you heal from this part of the process.
Bone growth and healing: Once the implant post has been placed in the jawbone, you must wait for
osseointegration to begin. This is the process in which the jawbone grows
into and unites with the implant’s surface. This process can take
several months, and it cannot be rushed. The new bone growth provides
a solid base for where the crown will be placed. If you are uncomfortable
with having an open space in your mouth while you wait for osseointegration,
a temporary partial denture can be made during the healing process.
Abutment placement: Once osseointegration is done, you will need additional surgery to place
what is called an abutment. This piece is where the crown will attach
to the implant screw beneath the gumline. It is a minor procedure performed
with local anesthesia. Your dentist will reopen the gum to expose the
dental implant and attach the abutment to the dental implant before the
gum tissue is closed around (not over) the abutment. The gums must heal
for about 2 weeks before your tooth’s crown can be placed. Once
your gums are healed, you’ll need to have impressions made of your
mouth and the remaining teeth in order to make your crown.
Crown placement: This is the final stage in getting a dental implant. The crown will be
color-matched to the rest of your teeth, and it looks, feels, and acts
just like a natural tooth. The crown is permanently screwed into the individual
implant abutment. If you have multiple missing teeth you are replacing,
sometimes one implant is all that is needed if the crowns are bridged together.
What Can I Expect After My Dental Implant Process Is Complete?
Once your crown is placed, you should continue to see your dentist regularly
for checkups and to ensure your dental implant is functioning properly.
Fortunately, 97% of dental implants are successful, particularly if your
dentist is well-trained and you adhere to their instructions, such as
not smoking and practicing excellent oral hygiene. Once you have the crown,
you should be “in the clear” and able to eat and speak normally,
and you likely won’t even be able to tell your implant is not a
For more information, check out our blog from last week:
Are Dental Implants Safe?
Ready to discuss dental implants with one of our dentists? Contact us Austell
Dental Associates today by dialing (770) 467-3888 or request an appointment online.