An implant consists of a tiny metal rod that is inserted into the jawbone of the patient, left there for several months while it fuses with the bone tissue, then completed when the dentist or oral surgeon affixes an artificial tooth to the top of the implant. Dental implants are not exactly a new technology. In fact, implants have been used to replace missing teeth for decades. But in the last several years, implants have become increasingly popular, and with good reason. An implant is the only type of dental restoration that involves creating an artificial tooth root. That means that an implant is very much like getting a brand new natural tooth. We’ve compiled the following information for dental patients in and around the Cedar Park, Texas area who are wondering what’s involved in the dental implant procedure.
What You Should Know about the Dental Implant Procedure
The Dental Implant Consultation
Before beginning the process of getting a new dental implant, you’ll need to determine whether or not this type of dental restoration is right for you. That decision can be made with the help of your dentist or oral surgeon during an initial consultation visit. That appointment will usually involve the dental professional conducting an oral exam, taking X-rays, and having a discussion with you to explain more about dental implants and why you would (or wouldn’t) be a good candidate for the procedure.
One of the prerequisites for getting an implant is that the patient needs to have a sufficient amount of jawbone present – enough to accommodate the implant. It’s not uncommon for dental patients to have compromised jawbone tissue, particularly if they have been living with one or more missing teeth for a period of time. The jawbone needs to be stimulated in order to remain healthy and maintain good density, and tooth roots play an important role in stimulating the bone tissue. When tooth roots are absent, the bone tissue won’t be stimulated and will eventually become weakened. If you don’t have adequate jawbone density, your dentist may recommend a bone grafting procedure before you receive an implant. Although this procedure will add a waiting time of several months before you can receive an implant, you should know that bone grafting of the jawbone is a relatively common procedure that many dental patients need prior to getting an implant.
Once your dentist determines that your bone density is adequate, he or she will schedule your surgery appointment – the first step in the actual implant process.
Preparing for the Dental Implant Procedure
Most implant procedures are done in the dental office under either local anesthesia or IV sedation. Either way, it’s a good idea to arrange for a ride home after the procedure. You’ll be able to have a light meal a few hours beforehand if the procedure will be done under local anesthesia. But if your dentist plans on using IV sedation, you shouldn’t eat after midnight the night before your procedure. Your dentist may prescribe an antibiotic for you to take for a few days prior to the surgery and/or an anti-bacterial mouthwash that you’ll need to rinse with for the days leading up to your surgery.
Preparing for the Dental Implant Procedure
The Dental Implant Procedure: Step 1
The first step in getting a new implant is when your dentist implants the metal post into the jawbone. During this appointment, while you’re under either a local anesthesia or IV sedation, your dentist will make a small incision into your gum tissue at the location of your missing tooth. Because of the sedation used, you won’t feel any pain whatsoever during this process. After making the incision, your dentist will implant the tiny metal post (typically made of titanium) into your jawbone. Once the post is securely implanted, your dentist will place a healing collar around the incision area, which prevents the gums from growing over and covering up the implant entirely. Afterwards, you’ll go through the recovery and healing process at home for several months before the second step in the process. This will give the jawbone the time it needs to fuse to the titanium rod.
The Dental Implant Procedure: Step 2
The second step in the dental implant procedure comes after the implant is inserted into your jawbone. During this second visit, your dentist will remove the healing collar and place an abutment on top of the implant. The abutment is what will hold the new artificial tooth after it is created. During this visit, your dentist will usually provide you with a temporary crown while the permanent crown is created and the abutment is given time to “settle” – a process that takes several weeks.
The Dental Implant Procedure: Step 3
The final step in the dental implant procedure comes when your dentist attaches a new permanent crown to the abutment that sits on top of the implant. The result is a permanent tooth replacement – one that looks, functions and feels exactly like a natural tooth!
After you receive your new dental implant, your dentist will want you to come back for periodic follow-up visits to make sure the implant is healing as it should. And although dental implants require no special care or cleaning – you simply brush and floss as you normally would – you will, of course, need to visit your dentist at least twice a year for routine exams and professional cleanings. One of the many advantages of dental implants is the fact that they are incredibly strong. In fact, if they are properly cared for, they can last you for a lifetime!
To find out more about the dental implant procedure, and to determine whether these dental restorations are the right choice for you, contact your Cedar Park, Texas dentist today!