What is Dental Implant Surgery?

In the past, tooth loss patients had limited treatment options. While dental bridges and dentures might be good aesthetic solutions for tooth loss, they do little to help improve dental health problems caused by tooth loss.

Bridges sometimes cause more harm for a patient’s dental health over time, and dentures are infamous for being uncomfortable and leading to jaw bone density loss. In recent years, dental implants have become the leading treatment for tooth loss, allowing patients to restore the beauty of their smile, while also tackling the dental health complications that coincide with tooth loss.

What are Dental Implants?

Unlike other tooth loss restorations, dental implants remain fixed in the gums and jawbone. Dental implants replace the tooth’s natural roots with a titanium implant screw through a process known as “osseointegration”, in which the titanium implant physically fuses to the jawbone. After osseointegration takes place, a custom-made dental crown is placed over the implant, aesthetically restoring the smile.

What to Expect During Dental Implant Treatments
Dental implant treatments are typically performed as outpatient surgeries in multiple stages, depending on the dental health condition of the patient. During your initial consultation, we will assess your bite and dental health with x-rays, then devise a treatment plan for your condition. We will also need to take a background of any of your medical conditions and learn about medications you take. For most patients, the dental implant process will be divided into the following phases:

Tooth extraction. If your tooth hasn’t fallen out on its own or already been extracted, the initial stage of the treatment will be removing the damaged tooth.

Bone or gum grafts. For patients with depleted jawbone density or severe gum recession, we will recommend a bone graft and/or gum graft. Bone grafts replenish the density of the jawbone, preparing the implant site to retain the implant. After your jawbone graft, the area will need some time to heal.

Implant placement. The first phase of the implant surgery will be the insertion of the titanium implant into the jawbone. At this point, the crown and abutment will not be added to the implant post. Your jawbone will need a few month to heal around the implant. Once the implant is properly fused and the jawbone has healed, we will schedule your appointment for the remainder of the treatment.

Placement of the abutment. The abutment is an extension of the titanium post that is attached to the implant post, once the jawbone area heals. After attaching the abutment, you might need to wait some time for the soft tissues in your mouth to heal, before we attach the crown, or the visible area of the implant.

Attachment of the crown. Once the soft tissues are healed, we will take a final mold of your mouth to help create the custom crown, which will be placed over the abutment for your finished restoration treatment.

When placing the dental implant, patients feel minimal discomfort, due to local anesthesia and minimal nerve endings in the jawbone. To place the implant, we will make a cut in the gum, then prepare the site to place the metal implant post. While the process above might seem long, many patients find that the process passes quickly. The majority of the treatment time will be spent going about your day-to-day life, while allowing your jawbone and implant time to heal.

After the Dental Implant Procedure

A few days after your dental implant treatment is complete, you might experience some swelling and discomfort. During your consultation, we will offer you proper take-home instructions, along with pain relief suggestions. In the immediate stages following your surgery, you should try to eat soft foods and avoid chewing on the side of the implant site.

Most dental implant treatments are successful. However, there are some measures you can take to improve the probability that your implant remains healthy, including:

Practice proper oral hygiene: Like your natural teeth, you will need to keep your dental implants and the surrounding gum areas clean. We will recommend specialty brushes, like interdental brushes to clean the areas around the implant, gums, and metal posts, once the implant is firmly healed in the gumline.

Go for routine dental check ups. During your routine dental appointments, we will be able to assess the dental implant, ensuring it remains healthy and functioning.

Avoid habits that can damage your implants. Just as you don’t want to chew on hard items with your natural teeth, you should avoid bad habits, like chewing on ice, hard candy, or jaw clenching with dental implants.

Want to learn more about dental implants, and the dental implant process? Call our office today.


smiling patient in a dental clinic