A dental implant is one of the most popular options for replacing teeth when a patient is missing one or more because they offer patients the most natural feel, function, and look of all tooth replacement options. Dental implants can also be used to anchor a dental bridge. Additionally, dental implants are used to securely affix a full denture (implant-supported dentures) when a patient needs to replace all of their teeth or an entire row of teeth.
Although dental implants are a wonderful choice for replacing missing teeth, the procedure for having one placed involves a bit more time and preparation than, say, getting fitted for a denture. Continue reading to learn more about what to expect when getting a dental implant.
The first step in getting a dental implant is having a dental examination and consultation with one of our dentists to determine whether a dental implant is the best treatment option for you.
Although they are a wonderful tooth replacement option, dental implants are not right for everyone. To be a candidate for dental implants, one must not use tobacco products and be free from gum disease, healthy enough to undergo a surgical procedure, have a jawbone that is no longer growing, and also have enough jawbone and bone density to support a dental implant.
During a dental implant assessment, we ensure that the patient has an adequate jawbone to support a dental implant by taking x-rays. Additionally, we examine the patient’s teeth and gums and also review the patient’s medical history to make sure the patient is healthy enough to successfully receive a dental implant and undergo the procedure.
The next step in the dental implant procedure is tooth extraction and preparation of the jawbone for receiving a dental implant. The dentist removes any remaining parts of the patient’s natural tooth. If the patient requires additional bone at the implant site, the dentist usually places a bone graft at the time of the tooth extraction.
After tooth extraction and bone graft placement, the patient is given time to heal so that the bone graft can fully integrate with and strengthen the patient’s jawbone. This healing process can require several months, depending on the patient.
Once the bone graft has had adequate time to heal and the patient’s jawbone is strong enough to support an implant, our dentist places the dental implant and a temporary crown during a surgical procedure that usually lasts about an hour per implant. During surgery, patients are fully sedated with general anesthesia.
To place the implant, the dentist or oral surgeon makes an incision in the patient’s gum tissue to access the bone beneath. They then drill into the jawbone to create a hole for the dental implant’s post which acts like the roots of the artificial tooth. The post of the dental implant is then placed in the jawbone. If necessary, this post can be fitted with a temporary crown until the patient is ready to receive a permanent crown.
Over the next few months, the patient’s jawbone heals and attaches to the dental implant post through a process called osseointegration. Waiting through this step and practicing impeccable oral hygiene all the while ensures a patient’s dental implant is securely anchored in the jawbone just like a tooth’s natural roots would be.
While every patient is different, healing and achieving full osseointegration can often require around six months. Throughout this time, our dentists continue to assess the patient’s progress to determine the appropriate time to schedule the final step in the dental implant process.
Depending on the patient, an abutment may or may not be placed at the time of the implant post placement. If an abutment was not placed along with the post, then a final surgery is needed for the patient to receive the dental implant abutment, which is the portion of the implant that connects the post to the permanent crown.
Placement of the abutment requires a final surgery that can be safely and painlessly performed with the use of a local anesthetic. During this procedure, the dentist reopens the patient’s gum tissue to access the dental implant post. The dentist then attaches the abutment to the dental implant and closes the gum tissue around (but not over) the implant.
Once the patient’s gum tissues have fully healed from placing the abutment, the dentist takes impressions of the patient’s teeth to design the permanent crown, a natural-looking artificial tooth that’s custom-made to blend and function seamlessly with the patient’s natural teeth.
Once the dentist receives the permanent crown from the manufacturer, the dentist affixes it to the patient’s new dental implant abutment.
If you are missing one or more teeth, our dentists at Goochland Dentistry welcome you to reach out to our dental clinic to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced dentists. We can examine your teeth, gums, and jawbone to help you determine whether a dental implant is the right tooth replacement option for you.
To learn more or schedule a dental plant consultation, contact Goochland Dentistry today.