It would be pretty nice if dental implants worked like a mouthguard and you could just slip them in and call it a day. Alas, that’s not how it works. Dental implants are a little more complicated than that, but that doesn’t stop them from being the best solution available for over 170 million Americans.
What’s the deal with dental implants? If anything, this is the biggest takeaway to have from this article. Dental implants are the most comfortable, most affordable solution for damaged or missing teeth. They are miles ahead of all other solutions – including dentures – and more people are opting for them every single year. Best of all, they are affordable and cost-effective. So, if you think you qualify for dental implants, here’s what to expect throughout the entire dental implant procedure.
A General Overview of the Dental Implant Process
For starters, getting a dental implant won’t just happen overnight; it’s a segmented surgery that spans over a wide period of time. The entire process can take several months, dependent on many factors including your healing ability.
Up first, the dentist will have to remove the damaged tooth if its still present. This is usually separate from the actual dental implant procedure. Of course, you’ll undergo local anesthesia to have it removed. From here, you may require a bone graft (usually from the chin or hip) if your jaw isn’t dense enough to support a dental implant. Once your jaw fully heals, the dentist may proceed with the placement of the dental implant. Following this, you’ll face a lengthy healing period to permit the osseointegration between the dental implant and your jawbone. As soon as the dentist deems you’ve healed from the step prior, they’ll attach the abutment to the implant, which will bridge the gap between the implant lying below your gumline and a crown that’ll cap off the entire procedure.
Keep in mind, this is a very broad overview of a dental implant procedure. But we won’t stop here. Below we’ll break down the whole procedure step by step.
The Initial Consultation
First things first, you must come in for a consultation prior to any dental implant work. At Atlantic Dental Group, we extend a Free Consultation to our patients at which you’ll learn more about dental implants, have X-rays done around your oral cavity and have impressions taken of your teeth. From here, we’ll draft a treatment plan for you, reiterate the steps of the dental implant procedure, talk about any need for bone grafting and introduce recovery tips specific to your needs.
If need be, you’ll want to get a bone graft. Placing a dental implant in an empty socket that’s been regressing for a long time may result in a failed dental implant. That’s not what you want, especially since they are a big investment into your teeth. Bone grafting is pretty simple, however the follow-up healing period to allow you jawbone to stabilize can last anywhere up to 12 months. Just know now, time should not stop you from taking advantage of the best solution for restoring damaged or missing teeth.
Dental Implant Placement
As soon as you’re ready for a dental implant, we’ll set up an appointment for you to come in. You’ll go under local anesthesia or sleep sedation, whichever fits your needs the best. One of our dentists will then surgically drill a hole into your jawbone and place inside a titanium implant post. Titanium dental implants work the best for osseointegration, but they’re also durable and are long-lasting.
You’ll go home with a temporary flipper while allowing your jawbone to heal. This can vary anywhere between 4 and 6 months, depending on the location of the implant (upper or lower jaw, front or back) and your healing ability. Once this healing period concludes, you’ll be ready for the next phase.
Placing the Abutment
When you are ready, you’ll come back in for an abutment. The abutment is the bridge piece of a dental implant that connects the implant post underneath the gumline and a crown that’ll come at the very end. Once the abutment is secure, our dentists will take another impression of your teeth. After this, you’ll go home with a temporary crown for a couple weeks until we fabricate a custom crown just for you.
Crowning the Procedure
The last part of the dental implant procedure calls for the final crown. In most cases, the crown is either screwed into the abutment or cemented on top. It’ll be permanently fixed; you won’t be able to remove the crown. That’s okay, because the only cleaning it’ll need is regular brushing and flossing. Once the crown is on and you look at yourself in the mirror for the first time following the end of the procedure, you won’t even be able to tell you ever had a missing or damaged tooth.
Things to Know Following the Dental Implant Procedure
There are so many things to talk about following a dental implant procedure, but we’re going to cover 3 of the biggest topics.
For one, implant care will be super easy. We already touched on it a bit, you’ll need to brush your teeth and floss daily. Also, try to incorporate rinses with non-alcoholic mouthwash now and again to flush out any bits of food that may get stuck between your teeth and around your dental implant. Be sure you’re also visiting your general dentist for a cleaning at least once every 6 months and get advice from them as to how you can improve your dental hygiene.
Secondly, we advise you to come back to Atlantic Dental in the months following your dental implant procedure. We’ll take X-rays of the dental implant, make sure it is behaving as expected and identify/resolve any complications before they cause any trouble. Besides, who wouldn’t want to catch up with our friendly staff?
Lastly, you can’t drink any alcohol throughout the procedure until at least 3 days after everything is complete. Unlike tobacco products, alcohol is okay to consume in moderation, just not immediately after you get a dental implant. That’s because alcohol restricts blood flow which can affect your healing ability and increase the chances of infection.
The dental implant procedure spans over a long period of time. However, the wait will pay off in the end as you’ll have the best solution for restoring damaged or missing teeth all to yourself. If you’re ready to get a dental implant, schedule your Free Consultation with us today online or by phone at (562) 567-0498.