It’s only natural to feel anxious about the dental implant procedure. After all, it does involve oral surgery and patients are often scared that it might hurt. Firstly, we’d like to assure you that you should feel no pain whatsoever during dental implant surgery as you’ll be administered a local anaesthetic.
A dental implant is a modern-day long-lasting solution to tooth replacement and can also be used to support dentures. During dental implant surgery, the implant is placed directly into the jawbone and fuses with the surrounding bone to become a permanent fixture in the mouth. Due to this fact, it helps to maintain the jawbone by preventing bone loss which naturally occurs when a tooth is missing.
What is a dental implant exactly?
Picture a natural tooth. It consists of two parts, the lower part, or root, which is located in the jawbone and the upper part, or crown, which is visible in the mouth. A dental implant rod replaces the tooth root and an abutment is attached to this which supports either a crown, bridge, or denture to complete the tooth restoration.
How long does a dental implant procedure take?
This is a tricky question to answer because every patient is different and each case is unique. Generally speaking, the entire implant procedure can take between 3 to 6 months from the initial consultation to the completion of treatment. Don’t worry, it sounds like a long time but because the procedure is carried out in stages, much of the time is spent waiting for your body to heal.
So how does a dental implant procedure work?
If you’re interested in finding out about dental implants then the first step would be to make an initial consultation with your dentist. They’ll examine your mouth, take some diagnostic X-rays and discuss your medical and dental health to see if you’re a suitable candidate for dental implants. Not everyone can have dental implant surgery because of certain medical conditions such as leukaemia or diabetes which can affect healing after surgery. In addition, there needs to be a certain amount of bone to support the implant. The good news is that in most cases bone can be regenerated using a bone graft prior to the dental implant procedure although naturally, this will lengthen the treatment time.
It’s all in the planning
Before dental implant surgery can take place, your dentist will need to decide which type of dental implant is best for your dental needs. A few more X-rays will also be taken to determine precise measurements and the trajectory of the dental implant/s to be placed. Thankfully most of this planning takes place behind the scenes minimising time spent in surgery and allowing for greater accuracy. Once the consultations and diagnostic X-rays are completed, the remainder of the dental implant process involves two main surgical procedures which are performed about 4 to 6 months apart.
This is the first part of the dental implant surgery when a dental implant is placed into your jawbone. The gum is opened, the implant placed, and then the gum is stitched back up again. You’ll need to return to the clinic about 10 days later so your dentist can remove the stitches and examine the surgical site. It will be then be left to heal for several months. During this period the surrounding bone regenerates and grows over the titanium implant in a process known as osseointegration. It’s critical that this takes place in order to provide stability and strength to the implant so that it can support the crown, bridge, or denture that’s placed on top of it to complete the restoration.
During this stage of dental implant surgery, the gum is opened back up to check that the implant and bone have firmly fused together. If this has happened successfully, a connecting piece known as the abutment is screwed into the implant post. This protrudes above the gumline from which an impression can be taken. This is then used by our dental lab to create your custom crown, bridge or denture while you wait as your body heals from surgery once more.
This is the final part of the implant procedure where your crown or bridge is permanently cemented to the abutment. If you’re having a denture made, this can either be permanently fixed to the abutment or a removable alternative can be fabricated for you.
Post dental implant surgery – Follow up visits
Dental implants are cared for in the same way as your natural teeth with brushing and flossing, and similarly, it’s important to attend follow up visits so your dentist can check the health and stability of your dental implant, gums, and bone. For long term implant success, it’s crucial to maintain good oral health and visit your dentist regularly. With proper care, a dental implant can last a lifetime, so it’s well worth the investment.
If you’d like to find out more about dental implants and whether you’re a suitable candidate, please call Dental Spot on (02) 9158 6115 to make an appointment.