Dental implants are the permanent installation of artificial teeth. These implants are, quite literally, implanted directly into your jaw to bond with existing bone for a long-term dental solution. Furthermore, unlike bridges or dentures, implants will not result in the decline of your oral health.
As such, many individuals researching their tooth replacement options wonder whether they qualify for implants and what the general timeline of such a procedure might entail. In the article below, see a quick overview of the implant process from initial consultation to final result to determine if the time investment is right for you.
Consultation, Preparation, and Treatment Plan
Dental implants are an invasive surgery. As such, your preparation is similar to that of any other major surgery you may undergo. If you are not a good candidate for dental implants, it is expensive, counterproductive, and even dangerous to continue with the procedure.
First, you must review your medical history for any conditions or allergies that could interfere with the surgery, in addition to medications you are currently taking and your overall health. You will further discuss your options for anesthesia during the surgery with options including local anesthesia, general anesthesia, and sedation.
Once it is determined that you are healthy enough to undergo the surgery, your dentist will image your mouth with x-rays and 3D Imaging technology. This step allows your care team to ensure your bone mass is healthy enough to support and bond to the implant, in addition to allowing them to create a model of your jaw and existing teeth.
Finally, you and your care team (which could include several professionals aside from your oral surgeon) will determine a treatment plan to follow for the course of the implant procedures in both the short and long term.
The Initial Implant
Dental implants themselves take multiple procedures to install– this is to give the bone plenty of time to heal and bond to the implant, ensuring a permanent connection.
Depending on the condition of your teeth and jaw, this initial implant step can look slightly different.
For individuals with jaw bone mass that is able to support an implant, they are able to have the implant rod installed right away. For individuals with thinner, weaker bones, they will need to undergo a bone graft.
The bone graft material is commonly taken from either the chin or hip, then given time to heal before the implant rod is placed.
The Healing Process
The dental implant procedure is characterized by several outpatient procedures with healing time in between each. As such, between each process you will need to allow your jaw to heal for several weeks to several months. This healing is monitored by your care team to determine when you are ready to move to the next step in receiving your implants.
(Keep in mind that if you needed a bone graft, your first healing before your dental implant placement could be several months before your implant rod is placed.)
Once this implant rod is placed, it will be another 6 weeks on average before the bone properly binds to the implant rod. This process is called “osseointegration” and mimics the way in which your natural tooth roots hold your teeth in place.
During this time, especially in the days following the initial surgery, it is imperative that the implant rod is not put under pressure. This could cause a loosening of the implant and later lead to implant failure.
To protect your implant and not have a gap in your smile, know that you can utilize a partial removable denture While you heal. It will still be several weeks or more until your implant will be able to support a prosthetic tooth.
Your final dental implant surgery will involve attaching an abutment into your implant rod, then affixing your new tooth.
To affect the abutment, your oral surgeon will need to re-open your gum tissue to reach the implant rod.
After this surgery, it will take 2 additional weeks on average for the gum tissue to heal.
Choosing The Final Tooth
Once your mouth has healed, impressions will be made of your mouth. This will then be used as the framework for your implant.
For individuals who are replacing a small number of teeth, the most common option will be to manufacture a permanent prosthetic tooth. This is placed directly on the implant and most closely resembles your natural teeth.
For individuals with more severe tooth loss, the implants will often be used as a frame on which partial or full dentures will be affixed– also known as overdentures. This type of implant is removable, but does not come with the loose fit of bone loss resulting from traditional removable dentures.
Seeking Dental Care
Some dental implant centers offer implants in one day– this is not recommended for a vast majority of individuals, especially those looking for a longer lasting tooth replacement option.
Established in the 1980s, EVDP takes great pride in having clients receive the best dental care and the best service. If you are considering dental implant, contact EVDP to schedule an appointment or consultation.