Dental implant surgery results in teeth that look, feel and perform just like your own natural teeth.
The surgery is usually done in the following stages:
- The damaged or decayed tooth is removed.
- Your jawbone where the implant is to be anchored is prepared, which may require a bone augumentation
- Once your jawbone is completely healed, the oral surgeon will place a metal post in it.
- You will spend several months healing from this procedure.
- Once you’ve sufficiently healed, an abutment (an extension of the metal post) will be put in place by the oral surgeon. (If the metal post is very stable, the abutment can be added at the same time the post is placed.)
- Once your soft tissue has all healed up, you will visit your dentist to have molds made of your teeth as well as your jawbone.
- Your dentist will be the one placing the replacement tooth or teeth in your mouth.
This process can understandably take many months due to the time needed for healing and for new bone to grow in your jaw. If you are ready to start a dental implants surgery make sure to understand how much does it cost.
Why Bone Grafting Might be Necessary
If your jawbone is too soft or not adequately thick, you may be required to undergo a bone graft. Chewing exerts a great deal of pressure on the jawbone, so the bone must be able to sufficiently support the implant. Having a bone graft will strengthen the jawbone so that it can provide a more secure foundation for the implant.
In a bone grafting procedure, a small piece of bone is taken from another area of your jaw or body and transplanted directly onto your jawbone. Sometimes artificial bone is used instead. It takes a few months for enough new bone to grow and become strongenough to undergird a dental implant.
There are cases where only a little bone grafting is needed and this can be accomplished during the implant surgery. It all depends on what condition your jawbone is in at the time.
How the Dental Implant is Placed
During the procedure, the oral surgeon will cut open your gum down to the jawbone. He or she will then drill a hole into the bone for the implant metal post. This post will act as the root of the replacement tooth, so it has to be deeply implanted into the jawbone.
Once this procedure is done, you will still have a missing tooth so there will be a gap there. To improve your appearance, a denture can be placed there temporarily. This denture can easily be removed at bedtime and for cleaning.
A process called “osseointegration” occurs once the metal post has been placed into the jawbone. This is the process whereby your jawbone grows and essentially unites with the implanted metal post. This can take a few months, but this is the only way you are going to have a sufficiently solid foundation to hold your replacement tooth, which is what roots provide for natural teeth.
Once the process of osseointegration is finished, there may need to be another procedure done to attach the abutment. This is the part that the crown will ultimately be attached to. This is a fairly minor outpatient procedure that can usually be done under local anesthesia.
Steps to Place the Abutment:
- The oral surgeon cuts open your gum exposing the dental implant.
- He or she attaches the abutment to the implant.
- Your gum tissue is closed around the abutment, leaving the top exposed.
There are cases in which the abutment can be securely attached during the initial procedure implanting the metal post, which avoids this second surgical step. However, the abutment will appear above the gum line and can be seen when your mouth is open. Until your dentist places your prosthetic tooth, the appearance of the abutment may annoy you. This is why some people elect to have the second procedure done to place the abutment.
Choosing Your Prosthetic Teeth
Once the abutment has been attached, it will take a couple of weeks before your gums are healed enough to securely attach your replacement tooth. In the meantime, impressions will be made of your remaining teeth as well as your mouth. These impressions are needed to create the crown, which is your natural-looking prosthetic tooth. Once your jawbone is fully healed and strong enough to securely support the new tooth, it will finally be placed.
You, along with your dentist, can decide whether you want an artificial tooth that is fixed in place, removable or both.
In this instance the prosthetic tooth is permanently cemented or screwed onto the abutment. The tooth cannot be removed, so in this way it is much like your natural tooth. If you can afford it, you can replace all your missing teeth in this manner. In most cases, each crown is separately attached a single dental implant. But, since implants are extremely secure, a number of prosthetic teeth can be anchored down by one implant as long as they can be bridged together.
This type of prosthetic is like a typical removable denture. It has artificial teeth embedded in pink plastic made to resemble a gum. It sits atop a metal frame attached to the abutment, allowing it to snap into place. The wearer can easily remove it for cleaning, at bedtime and/or for repairs.
After dental implant surgery
However you choose to undergo your implant surgery, whether all at once or in several stages, you will likely experience some discomfort in the aftermath, such as:
- Some minor bleeding
- Pain where the implant was inserted
- Bruised gum and skin
- Swollen gums and face
If these symptoms worsen in the days following your procedure, call your oral surgeon. There is a possibility that you will need to go on antibiotics or take pain medication.
Upon completion of each stage of your dental implant surgery, you should eat soft foods so that your gums can heal. In most cases, you will have stitches that dissolve naturally. If yours aren’t that kind, your oral surgeon will have to remove them.