Going for your first dental implant? Don’t be nervous. Let us take you through the steps. Here’s what to expect during your first dental implant procedure.
But first, what is dental implant surgery?
Dental implant surgery is the replacement of damaged or missing teeth with artificial ones that use metal screw-like posts that function as tooth roots. They are the closest you can get to natural, healthy teeth. It’s an alternative to dentures or bridgework. They’re an option when the patient lacks natural teeth roots. With dental implants, your artificial teeth will have solid support because the titanium implants will fuse with your jawbone. They won’t slip, they make no sound and they will not cause damage to the bone like dentures and fixed bridgework might. They’re not just for aesthetic purposes, they act like natural teeth and preserve the structure of the mouth and prevent your other teeth from moving.
How do you know a dental implant is the right choice for you?
You are a good candidate for dental implants if…
- You have one or more missing teeth
- You are unable or unwilling to wear dentures
- Your jawbone has reached its full growth
- You have adequate bone to secure the implants or are able to have a bone graft
- You have healthy oral tissues
- You don’t have health conditions that will affect bone healing
- You are willing to commit to the process
- You don’t smoke tobacco
What to expect from the process
The procedure will begin with a thorough evaluation including X-rays and teeth models to ensure that your dental implant will closely match your teeth. The condition of your jawbone will also be judged by the dental professional because it is crucial in the procedure. It is important to disclose your medical conditions and any medications you are taking at this stage.
Your dentist will discuss your anesthesia options and give you dos and don’ts that you need to comply with in preparation for your oral surgery.
Dental implant surgery is an outpatient procedure that is done in stages, with healing time required between visits to your dental surgeon. The process could take months, with much of the time spent healing and waiting for the growth of new bone. Some steps can be combined depending on your case.
The process begins with the removal of the damaged tooth if it hasn’t come out yet.
Then the jawbone is prepared. If your bone is too soft or not thick enough, you may need bone-grafting before you can have dental implant surgery. A bone graft may come from another location in your body but a synthetic bone graft may also be used. If only minor bone-grafting is needed, it can be done at the same time as the implant surgery. The condition of your jawbone will determine the procedure.
Placing the dental implant
The next step is placing the dental implant. Your oral surgeon will make a cut to open your gum, exposing the bone. Holes will then be drilled into the bone and that’s where the dental implant metal post will be placed. It’s implanted deep into the bone because the post will serve as the tooth root.
At this point of the procedure, you will still have a gap where your tooth is missing. If needed, a temporary partial denture can be placed, one that you can remove when you sleep and so you can clean it.
Osseointegration is the next step in the process. This is when your jawbone grows and fuses with the surface of the implant, providing a base for your new tooth. It can take several months.
You may need additional surgery after osseointegration to place the abutment. This is the piece where the crown will eventually attach. Your oral surgeon will reopen your gum to expose the dental implant. He or she will then attach the abutment to the dental implant. You gum tissue will then be closed around the abutment but not around it. The placement of the abutment is a minor surgery done with local anesthesia. In some cases, the abutment is attached to the dental implant metal post when the post is implanted, removing the need for the extra surgery. But if this is done, the abutment is visible when you open your mouth until your artificial tooth is attached. Some people do not like this which is why they go for a separate procedure.
Your gums will then need to heal for a couple of weeks.
When your gums heal, impressions are made of your mouth and are used to make the crown or your artificial tooth. It will only be placed when your jawbone is strong enough to support the use of your new tooth.
Your artificial teeth may be removable, fixed or a combination of both. You and your dentist can decide which is right for you.
Your oral surgeon will typically use dissolving stitches. If not, he or she will remove them.
Will it hurt?
Just like with an dental surgery, you can expect to feel discomfort such as minor bleeding, pain at the implant site, some swelling and bruising of the gums and face.
Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics or pain medication to help you. Ice packs will help too. Make sure to eat soft food while waiting for the surgical site to heal after each step.
Maintain good oral hygiene and avoid the use of tobacco to ensure a successful dental implant procedure.
Think you need dental implants? Contact BrightSmile Avenue. Here are our numbers: +6326212556 (BGC), +6327992784 (Banawe) or +6322969239 (Makati).