The Dental Implant Process
Learn about the steps involved in the process of getting dental implants
Getting dental implants is a lengthy process involving at least one surgery and several months of recovery before the final implant crown is placed. However, because dental implants provide such a high-quality, beautiful, and functional replacement for missing teeth, the investment of time and money is well worth it for many patients. If you are considering getting dental implants, this overview of the process will help you understand what to expect.
The first step in getting dental implants is to schedule a consultation with a dentist specializing in this procedure. At California Dental Group, we have many expert dentists with ample experience in guiding patients through the dental implant process. Your dentist will take a complete set of x-rays and provide a full oral health exam to make sure you are a good candidate for dental implants. Then, a treatment plan and general timeline will be set up, and you’ll be given a referral to a skilled oral surgeon.
Preparing for Surgery
Some patients need to complete certain procedures before having their implant surgery. For example, if you need to replace a tooth that has not actually been lost yet but is severely damaged, you will need to have an extraction to remove the tooth. Also, if your jaw bone is not strong enough to support the implant, you will need to have bone graft surgery in order to correct this problem.
During your implant surgery, your oral surgeon will cut open your gum and drill a hole into your jawbone to hold the titanium dental implant post. There are two types of posts that may be implanted—one with an abutment to hold a crown already attached and one without an abutment. If your treatment plan calls for a post with no abutment, your surgeon will close the gum over the post for healing, and your gum will need to be reopened later to place the abutment and crown. If you get a post with abutment, the abutment will protrude from the gum during healing and you will not require a second surgery. This is a good option for back teeth but can be unsightly for front teeth.
Once your implant peg has been placed, you will enter a recovery period designed to allow time for your jawbone to bond with the peg. This bonding process is called osseointegration, and can take up to six months to complete. Once a strong bond has been formed, the peg will basically become an artificial “root” for your replacement tooth, providing a stable foundation able to withstand the pressures of chewing and biting.
Placing the Permanent Crown
Once your jawbone has healed, it will be time to place the permanent crown on top of the implant peg. Your dentist will work with a quality dental lab to create a crown that matches the shape and color of surrounding teeth and provides a natural appearance with full functionality. After your crown has been placed, you can use it just like a real tooth, and you’ll need to care for it like a real tooth too. Be sure to brush and floss regularly to keep tissues and other teeth around your dental implant healthy.