A: To keep it pretty simple, you would either have a missing tooth or a tooth that needed to be pulled out because it was beyond repair. Infections and other things can cause that. Then, what we do is we go in there and we screw in what looks like a little screw, it’s called a dental implant.
That anchors into your bone and what we’re looking for is to get a good angle and good purchase. Once we know it’s purchased in the bone, then we’ll allow that to heal for a couple of months. Then, we’ll restore that with a permanent restoration.
How we do that is— the implant that’s in the bone, we come back with what’s called an abutment. It’s a little metal piece that sticks up above the bone that allows us to either screw in or glue a crown to it.
Then, at that point, you’re in the final phase and you will have a full restoration.
Dental implants are a procedure that replaces missing or severely damaged teeth with a permanent restoration. Implants are essentially threaded metal posts that are anchored into the jawbone and support a permanent crown.
Implants offer the most lifelike, and healthy option for the replacement of natural teeth because they preserve the jawbone. Unlike dentures, dental implants are permanently fixed and custom-designed as a 1:1 replacement for natural teeth. This leaves you with a smile that is uniquely yours and perfectly aligned.
How dental implant surgery is conducted depends on your individual circumstances, but generally is the same.
Why A Dental Implant May Be Right For You
Dental implants, in 98% of cases are the superior form of treatment for missing teeth. Because they are titanium posts that are implanted and bond with the jawbone, they offer benefits no other treatment can. Dentures and bridges are all removable prosthetics that do not protect or fortify the jawbone. They also do not offer the bite strength that implants provide.
Since the jawbone is not fortified, it gradually erodes which leads to facial deformation and many health problems. Lack of bite strength also prevents patients from eating many of the foods they enjoy and/or need for proper nutrition. Additionally, dentures often can slip or even fall out of your mouth at the worst times.
When you start to look at all of the pitfalls and downsides of bridges and dentures, you realize people settle for these treatments. When is the last time you told your doctor that you want the least optimal solution for a health problem?
Unfortunately, a lot of patients don’t realize how much better implants make your life. They don’t realize that they too, in most cases, can get dental implants to replace their missing teeth.
In general, dental implants are typically right for anyone that:
- Has lost one or multiple teeth
- Has a fully grown jawbone
- Possesses an adequate among of jawbone density
- Has healthy gums
- Has no underlying conditions that can affect healing
- Is not willing or cannot wear dentures or bridges
- Wants to be able to speak without any issues
- Will follow the treatment plan and healing process as directed
- Doesn’t use tobacco products or is willing to cease at least 3 months before surgery
Preparing For The Procedure
A lot goes into the dental implant procedure before the actual surgery takes place. The planning that goes into it is critical. It involves working with your dentist, possibly some specialists such as a maxillofacial surgeon.
Since dental implants are such an intricate surgical process, we must perform a thorough evaluation to ensure success. This evaluation is integral to the process and includes:
- Comprehensive Exam— We’ll get 3-D imaging and x-rays done to ensure all is well and have models created of your jaw and teeth. This aids in designing the implants to be a perfect fit for your mouth.
- Medical History Review— Make sure to disclose any medical issues you have and any medications you’re on. This includes both prescription and over-the-counter medications or supplements. Certain conditions such as diabetes and heart issues may complicate the healing process if precautions aren’t taken.
- Discuss Your Treatment Plan— The treatment plan varies from one patient to the next. It is a completely tailored plan that takes into consideration many factors. Things such as your lifestyle, occupation, underlying conditions, and more.
Keeping Pain To A Minimum
If dental implants were too painful of a procedure, not many people would be in line to get them. However, the reason dental implants are overwhelmingly popular is that the pain is in fact, minimal. During the procedure, you have your options as to what level of anesthesia you want. If you want to be completely sedated, we can do that. Maybe you are fine with local anesthesia which is another option. However, we do recommend full sedation as it allows us unfettered access to your mouth and to position you as we need to.
The most critical part about anesthesia is to make sure you have someone you trust to bring you to your appointment and take you home. We cannot let you drive yourself home after receiving any type of anesthetic and that is non-negotiable. We care about your safety and want you to have a positive experience.
Dental Implant Surgery Overview
When it’s time for your actual surgery, you’ll need to bring someone who you trust to care for you and get you home. Since this is a one day surgery, you will be a bit disoriented after the procedure due to pain meds and the residual effects of anesthesia. The procedure involves several steps which include:
- Extraction of the teeth we’re replacing
- If needed, bone grafting (to add jawbone support)
- Placing the dental implant
- Osseointegration and site healing
- Attaching the abutment
- Attaching the permanent restoration
Depending on the type of dental implant procedure, the process can take a few months from consult to completion. It all depends on each individual’s circumstances. The entire process can take many months from start to finish. Much of that time is devoted to healing and waiting for the growth of new bone in your jaw. Depending on your situation, the specific procedure done or the materials used, certain steps can sometimes be combined.
Dental Implant Aftercare
Whether your dental implant procedure is a one-phase procedure or multiple, you may have varying levels of discomfort. However, with most patients the pain is minimal and short-lived—many patients go to work within two days. Some of the things you may experience include:
- Bruising around the surgery site including the gums
- Minor facial and gum swelling
- Pain near the new implant
- Minimal bleeding
You may be prescribed pain meds or antibiotics after the implant procedure depending on your situation. Swelling and pain should subside daily until it’s completely gone. However, if you notice the pain and swelling getting worse daily, then you need to contact us ASAP.
You will want to stick to soft foods during the healing process which can take a few weeks. Start with things like soft pasta, mashed potatoes, etc. Avoid crunchy or sticky foods and candy. Extreme cold or hot beverages can also cause discomfort as can spicy foods. So, just be proactive in what you eat but make sure you are still getting enough calories.
Smoking after implant surgery is the number one reason why implants fail. You mustn’t smoke or use tobacco at all during the healing process. Additionally, if you can go that long we highly recommend looking into a smoking cessation process or product. Smoking and tobacco use weaken your immune system and lessen your body’s ability to fight infection.
Are You Ready To Smile Again?
If you’re tired of hiding your missing teeth or dealing with the complications of dentures, contact us today and see how dental implants can change your life!