Written on Friday, May 21, 2021
Author: Chris Whitfield
Did you know that about three million American adults have dental implants? This number increases each year by about 500,000 more patients. Implants have quickly grown in popularity and more people see them as the best choice for teeth replacement when compared to traditional dentures, partials, crowns and bridges. But most patients wonder about the dental implant steps. What is the process and what should I expect?
Getting dental implants is a big decision. With these modern teeth replacements, you are permanently replacing your natural tooth roots with metal posts on which a natural-looking crown sits. In fact, you can expect your dental implants to provide the same function and appearance as your natural teeth.
There are many variables in dental implant steps and the process, as a whole. These variables depend on multiple factors like:
After examining your oral cavity, jawbone and existing teeth, your dentist develops your dental implant steps as part of a treatment plan. Sometimes this plan requires multiple dental procedures before actual implant placement. Whatever the steps required for your teeth replacement, your dentist discusses the plan with you and explains the process and how long it will take.
Your first visit as part of the dental implant steps is an initial evaluation with your dentist or oral surgeon. They provide a comprehensive examination. This visit focuses on determining your jawbone condition and what dental implant procedure best suits your needs. The appointment can include dental X-rays, taking impressions of your teeth and color-matching with existing teeth to provide the most natural appearance. You also need to decide how many teeth you want replaced with implants.
Sometimes patients need to see other dental specialists before starting the dental implant steps. These specialists can include periodontists or an oral surgeon, as examples. Much of the process depends on the individual’s oral health condition.
Also as part of this visit, you must provide your dentist or oral surgeon with a list of your current medical conditions and medications. Patients sometimes need to take antibiotics before their surgery to prevent infection. You will also discuss types of anesthesia and your personal tolerance and preferences for these.
If you have remaining teeth that need replacement by dental implants, your dentist must first extract these teeth. Sometimes this is done in the same visit as the implant insertion.
Most patients receive local anesthesia, also called novocaine or lidocaine, to numb the area of tooth extraction and replacement. You will not feel any pain during the dental implant steps and the process does not take long. But you may feel some pressure or a tug when the tooth is removed.
There are two types of dental implants used by dentists today. These include one inserted into your jawbone and another that sits directly beneath your gum line. If you are receiving the type of implant that goes into your jaw, this requires strong and healthy bone. When this bone does not have enough mass and strength to support an implant, the dentist can perform a bone grafting procedure.
A bone graft is important for some people as part of their dental implant steps. The jaw must be strong enough to handle the mechanics and pressure of chewing. So, if you need more bone, you receive a graft from another area of your jaw.
Having a jawbone graft can delay the dental implant steps for some patients. The bone often requires some time for healing after a graft and before placement of the implant. This process can take between three and nine months. But once the implant is placed into your jawbone, the bone grows around it to make it a permanent part of your gum line.
The abutment is the piece that secures to the implant and, in turn, holds a crown. Placement of this connection between the implant and crown is another one of the dental implant steps. It is important that the abutment is well tightened to support your chewing. You will not feel any pain during this process. You receive local anesthesia before abutment placement and only notice a little pressure.
Sometimes dentists or oral surgeons can place the abutment at the same time as the implant. This varies from patient to patient. After abutment placement, your gums need some time to heal before addition of the crown.
Once your gums have healed after abutment placement, you are ready to receive your permanent crown. The crown is the artificial tooth that looks like your natural teeth. This type of implant does not come out. It is either permanently screwed into place or glued down with dental cement.
If you decide instead to have a removable implant for replacement of multiple teeth at once, this type of implant works much like dentures. You take the teeth out to clean and replace them.
As you can see, your individualized process involves multiple dental implant steps based on several factors. The entire procedure can also take multiple visits to the dentist over a course of several months. But the result is a healthy looking smile with permanent missing teeth replacement.
To learn about your own dental implant steps, contact your closest Carolina Dental Arts location. We have three offices in Raleigh, NC and Goldsboro, NC to serve you.