Dental implants can improve the quality of your life significantly. However, be prepared for a lengthy experience that spans several stages, before you can enjoy your tooth or set of teeth for the majority of the rest of your life.
This article unpacks the different steps and why they’re necessary.
Consultation, diagnosis and planning
First, you’ll need to consult with a suitable dentist, preferably an experienced oral health surgeon to check whether you’re a viable candidate for the surgical procedure and if tooth implants are, in fact, feasible for your unique dental situation.
The chosen dentist will perform a thorough examination of your mouth, which includes evaluating the volume and quality of your bone.
Some patients might need to undergo additional treatments before an implant can be drilled into the bone, if there isn’t sufficient jawbone for placement.
Oral surgery: teeth extraction, bone grafts and dental implants
Oral surgery follows next. This might include tooth extractions, bone grafts and sinus lifts, on top of dental implants.
Tooth extractions are self-explanatory where decayed teeth are removed surgically. Once removed, implantation may take place on the same day. However, sometimes alveolar bone grafts might be needed, a synthetic bone graft that provides a solid base for implants to be positioned.
Bone grafts might also be required if there isn’t a sufficient amount of bone at the treated site for the implant to be anchored, due to significant bone loss. Not having enough bone might be due to not replacing missing teeth straight away, or wearing dentures for an extended period.
The procedure involves transplanting bone from another section of the mouth or body.
Using specialised tools and a drill, an implant, which is a small metal post, is embedded in the targeted area. Once the piece is secure, it’s typically covered with a healing cap, and then your gum is sutured up. The long healing process starts, which spans approximately six months depending on how quickly you recover.
During this time, osseointegration occurs, which is a biological process that binds metal with bone.
Since the discovery that titanium, the metal used in the procedure, is identified by the body as part of itself and not a foreign object, it has been used in various medical fields, not just in dentistry.
Post-op follow up
Once implantation has occurred, you’ll need to visit your dentist who’ll check for infection, monitor your progress, and check to see if the operation has been successful. Although implant rejection is rare, it can still occur.
Abutment and crown placement
The abutment is a prosthesis connection screwed to the implant that links it to the crown, the visible part of the tooth, and keeps it securely in place.
What comes next?
Dental implants are hugely transformative, so it goes without question that your life will change for the better, thanks to their wide range of benefits.
With an implant in place, you can eat, chew, talk and perform daily activities with zero difficulty. Your full biting force will be restored, and you’ll find that the prosthesis can be relied upon to stay in place, and not slip out at inopportune moments.