Dental implant placement goes beyond merely inserting a fake tooth into your mouth like dentures. The dental implant procedure is similar to every other type of minor surgery.
If you are not accustomed to the dental world, like most people, then you may not fully grasp the extent of a dental implant procedure. Essentially, dental implant surgery aims to replace lost or impaired teeth and roots with prosthetics. An implant is a much more comfortable and permanent tooth substitute than conventional full dentures.
Who is suited for dental implant surgery?
The dentist will only recommend dental implants if you satisfy the following conditions:
- Missing or damaged teeth
- Excellent oral hygiene
- Enough jawbone to support the implant
- General physical wellbeing
The dentist will discuss the above factors with you before deciding if you are a suitable candidate for implant surgery.
What happens during a dental implant procedure?
The results of dental implant surgery are not instantaneous. You cannot expect to walk into the operating room and exit with a new set of teeth. The surgery is performed on an outpatient basis and has various stages. First, if the impaired tooth is still in the gum, the dental expert will have to extract it. This requires anesthesia administration and is a single procedure.
Afterward, a bone graft may be necessary if the dentist believes your jaw does not have enough bone to support the implants. During the bone graft, the surgeon will remove a quantity of bone from another area of your body (usually from your chin or hip) and attach it surgically into the jawbone. The bone will be given a few months to heal before the actual implant process.
When the bone has fully healed, the dentist will insert the dental implant (a tiny titanium screw) into the jaw. The implant is screwed right into the jawbone to make sure it stays firmly fixed. The procedure takes about one or two hours and is performed under anesthesia, meaning you will not be aware of the entire process.
After getting the implants, the healing stage (called osseointegration) will proceed, and that may take a few months. After the implants have fixed completely within the jawbone, then you will be ready to get the healing collar and maybe a temporary cap. The healing collar or cap (a round metal piece) is placed over the implant for 10 to 14 days to help the gum tissues heal correctly. After the tissue has healed, the dentist will remove the cap, and you will be ready for the next stage: placing the abutment.
The abutment is designed to attach to the implant and hold the crown in place. After placing the abutment, the dentist will make a mold of the abutment, tooth and jawbone for the prosthetic tooth. After that, you will get a temporary dental crown while the permanent crown is in production.
Placing the permanent dental crown on the abutment is the final stage of the dental implant process. The dentist may decide to screw the crown or cement it on the abutment. Cementing the crown looks better and more natural since there are no visible screw holes.
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