Learn more about dental implantation
Preparation for dental implantation
A dental implants implantation procedure requires the collaboration of several specialists, such as:
- A doctor specializing in conditions of the mouth, jaw and face
- A dentist specializing in treating gums and bones
- A dentist specializing in designing and fitting artificial teeth
- An ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor
Dental implantation also requires several different procedures; therefore, you must have a thorough pre-op evaluation, including:
- Comprehensive dental exam: Your dentist will order some blood tests, blood pressure reading, X-rays, 3D images of your face and jaw, and models of your teeth and jaw.
- Review of your medical history: It’s crucial that your dentist is informed of any diseases you may have as well as any medications you take at the moment, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs and even supplements. If you have heart disease or orthopedic implants, you may be administered antibiotics before surgery to lower the risk of infection.
- Treatment plan: Based on the results of previous exams, your dentist will come up with a treatment plan, taking into consideration your situation, the number of implants needed, the type of restoration, appropriate implantation techniques, among others.
For pain management during the procedure, your dentist will discuss with you about anesthesia options, including local anesthesia, sedation or general anesthesia.
Then, they will give you diet instruction and other pre-op precautions. You should ask a family member to go with you so they can take you home after the procedure.
Dental implantation: Step by step
The entire process of dental implantation can take many months. Much of that time is devoted to healing and waiting for the growth of new bone in your jaw.
1. Jaw bone grafting (Bone restoring)
If your jaw bone isn't thick enough or is too soft, you may need bone grafting before you can have dental implant surgery. When you are missing a tooth, bone loss occurs. This reduces the thickness of your jaw bone, making it unable to sustain the implant.
Cases that may require bone grafting include:
- Jaw trauma
- Lost teeth accompanied by loss of jaw bone
The speed of bone loss differs from person to person. Not all cases of bone loss require grafting before implantation. You will only need a bone graft if your bone loss is severe, leaving not enough bone to hold an implant.
There are several bone graft materials that can be used to rebuild your jaw bone, including:
- Synthetic bone graft: This type of bone graft is transplanted into the targeted site to promote bone growth, then it will dissolve on its own.
- Natural bone graft: The bone graft will be taken from your own body. Therefore, it will integrate easily and grow quickly.
Usually, bone grafting takes a few months for the bone to grow strong enough to support the implant teeth. Consult with your dentist about the options that will work best for your condition.
2. Dental implant placement
During implant placement surgery, your oral surgeon makes an incision to open your gum and expose the bone. Then, they will drill holes into the bone to place the dental implant metal post which will serve as a tooth root. The implant should be fitted entirely inside the jawbone. This will protect it from the impact of chewing while your bone heals.
After implant placement, there’s still a gap where your missing tooth should be. Your dentist may give you a temporary denture which you can remove for cleaning and while you sleep. Osseointegration may take from 2 to 6 months.
3. Abutment placement
An abutment is a post extension that connects the implant post and the crown. Abutment placement can be carried out:
Together with implant placement in one sitting
If you choose to do this, you won’t need 2 surgeries to open your gum and expose your bone. However, dental implantation requires recovery time for osseointegration to take place. So, you need to protect the abutment from the impact of chewing, ensuring optimal osseointegration and recovery.
After complete osseointegration
After a set period of time, your dentist will check to see if osseointegration has completed by cutting into the gum above. Then, they will put the abutment on the implant. Your gum will slowly heal around this abutment.
After abutment replacement, it usually takes around 2 weeks for the gum to heal around the abutment after which the crown can be put in place.
4. Tooth restoration
After your gum has healed, your dentist will have a look at your implant and make impressions of your teeth using special materials and pick a natural ceramic color that will blend in with the rest of your teeth.
Then, all the details will be sent to a lab and a crown will be made. When it’s done, your dentist will place it over the abutment and make adjustments so you have proper bite alignments. Finally, your dentist will securely screw the crown to the abutment.
Dental implant aftercare
During the implantation procedure, you may experience:
- Facial and gum swelling
- Pain at the implantation site
- Skin and gum bruising
Your dentist may give you a prescription for painkillers or antibiotics to help relieve your discomfort. Besides, it’s recommended to have foods that are soft and easy to swallow to avoid pain at the implantation site.
If swelling, discomfort or any other problems get worse after the procedure, contact your dentist as soon as possible.
Here are some oral care tips after dental implantation:
- Avoid tobacco products
- Stick to your follow-ups
- Clean your mouth twice per day
- Avoid bad habits that may affect your oral health such as chewing ice cubes or hard candies
Dental implantation is an advanced procedure that requires extensive expertise. Therefore, you should choose a reputable dental clinic with a team of highly experienced dentists to make sure the procedure remains safe and lower your risk of complications.