Are you missing a tooth? If so, you are not alone. In fact, the American College of Prosthodontists reports that as many as 120 million Americans are missing at least one tooth.
While your dental specialist can go over the array of options available to you if this is your situation, there is really only one real, lasting solution—dental implants.
It is no exaggeration to say that getting dental implants can change your life. They can improve everything from the ease at which you eat, your speech and even your appearance!
But how does the dental implant procedure work? What can you expect to go through if you decide to take this important step in dental hygiene?
This post will cover all you need to know and more about the ins and outs of dental implant surgery.
Before getting started with dental implant surgery, it is vital to ascertain if your jawbone is strong enough to support your bite. With humans capable of exerting a force of up to a staggering 1,300 newtons (292 pounds), you can understand why your dentist will do everything possible to ensure that your new teeth will have a solid foundation.
To start, you will be sent for some X-rays and 3D images to ensure that your dentist has the most comprehensive understanding possible of your situation.
Your dentist will also check to ensure that your gums are free of any periodontal disease before the dental implant procedure.
During your dental exam, your dentist is also interested in your medical history. Be sure to let them know of any prescription or over-the-counter medication that you are taking. If you suffer from any heart conditions or have orthopedic implants, they may ask you to take antibiotics before the procedure, as this can prevent the chances of potential infections.
Once they have a clear idea, your dentist will then talk you through your dental treatment plan, outlining the timeline of your dental implant procedure. They will also determine what type of sedation you will require, between local or general anesthetic or IV sedation.
At this point, it would be wise to arrange for someone to take you to and from the dental surgery on the days when you will be operated on. You will likely be in no condition to drive afterward, and your only focus should be on getting adequate rest.
Your dentist’s first port of call will be to remove the broken teeth where your implant will be, if there are any. After doing this, your gums will need some time to heal.
If your jaw has been deemed lacking sufficient support because of being too thin or soft, this is the point when bone grafting will happen. This is when a small piece of bone, either taken from you or synthetic, is placed in an area to provide the additional support required for the implant.
After bone grafting, it can take some 4 to 6 months for the new bone to get to the stage where the implant can be fitted. However, this time is essential to ensure the best results.
Once your dentist has assessed your jaw and considered it ready, you can then move onto the next stage of the dental implant procedure.
The next step is the fitting of your implant post, placed directly into the bone. The post will act as your tooth root, providing a solid base to your new tooth.
Under sedation, your dentist will make an incision in your gum to expose the jawbone. A hole is then drilled deep into your jaw and the post fitted into the hole.
It is usual for there to be some swelling and discomfort; however, you should be able to resume your usual daily activities within a day or so. You will also be given a temporary removable denture, so there is no need for concern about the appearance of your teeth.
Once fitted, a process called osseointegration comes into play. Literally meaning “combining with the bone,” over the next 3 to 6 months, new bone will grow around the implant, making it strong and provide the solid base your tooth needs.
Once the implant has been properly integrated into the jawbone, then the abutment will be fitted. The abutment can be considered a connector, linking the new tooth root with the crown, the visible part of your artificial tooth.
In this visit, the abutment is screwed into the implant, and the gum tissue that has grown around the area is sewn back into place. After this step in the dental implant procedure, the area will require a few more weeks to heal.
After the healing process has finished, your dentist will make impressions for your crown, the final visible part of your tooth, to fit perfectly into place. Your dentist will also work with you to choose the correct shade so that it looks great as well as feeling amazing too.
Implants can be removable or fixed. Removable ones are mounted onto a frame snapping onto the abutment, and fixed crowns are permanently secured into their position. Your dental specialist will be sure to go over what the best option will be for your individual case.
Upon reaching this final stage in the process, it is important to be vigilant about how you are feeling. Slight bleeding, swelling, and bruising are common after receiving treatment; however, if you experience any ongoing pain or discomfort for some days, do not hesitate to return to your dentist for further examination.
Being able to eat, talk, and importantly smile with confidence can change the outlook of anyone who has missing teeth. That can soon be a reality once dental implants are finally fitted.
We hope that our comprehensive breakdown of the dental implant procedure was able to enlighten you on what to expect.
We at Forest Park Dental truly enjoy putting smiles back on the faces of those in St. Louis who require our help. By choosing us, you will rely on dentists with years of experience that will do everything to make sure your experience is a comfortable one.
Please count on us by booking a consultation today!