Dental Implant Surgery
Missing teeth can make you feel conscious about your how you look. It can make you cover your mouth every time you smile, laugh, or even talk. Sometimes, having missing teeth make you want to avoid going to parties or get-togethers. And you dread going to meetings, or having to face anybody for a conversation.
It affects your confidence and self-esteem. It can lead to isolation and even sadness or depression.
Fortunately, technology and procedure to replace missing teeth is not uncommon anymore. Dental implant surgery helps people with missing teeth by replacing them with artificial ones.
What is dental implant surgery?
Dental implant surgery is a procedure that replaces the root area of the missing tooth with metal, screw-like posts made of titanium. This metal post is surgically placed into your jaw bone. Then, after some time, an artificial tooth is attached to the post.
The artificial teeth used in dental implants are made to look, feel, and even act like our natural teeth. In fact, they are the closest thing you can get to natural and healthy teeth.
Dental implants can give you back your smile and the confidence to show your smile. Additionally, it helps in keeping the other teeth from moving out of their normal positions, which can cause issues down the line.
Dental implants are a great alternative to dentures or bridgework that doesn’t fit well.
Why should you get dental implants?
Dental implants are surgically inserted metal posts that fuse with your jawbone. This means the implants will not slip, make noise, or cause bone damage the way fixed bridgework or denture might.
Plus, the materials will not decay. Whereas, your teeth that support regular bridgework can decay.
Therefore, dental implants are a great alternative to missing teeth.
However, dental implants may not be right for everyone. It may be right for you if you…
have one or more missing teeth
are unable or unwilling to wear dentures
have a jawbone that’s reached full growth
have adequate bone to secure the implants or are able to have a bone graft
have healthy oral tissues
don’t have health conditions that will affect bone healing
are willing to commit several months to the process
What are the risks of dental implant surgery?
Like any medical procedure, there are risks involved with dental implant surgery. Complications are rare. And when they do occur, they are treatable and are usually just minor issues.
Infection at the implant site, which may lead to other issues later on
Damage to surrounding structures, such as other teeth or blood vessels
Nerve damage, which can cause pain, numbness or tingling in your natural teeth, gums, lips or chin
Sinus problems, when dental implants placed in the upper jaw protrude into one of your sinus cavities
Your dentist or oral surgeon will discuss these risks with you, address your concerns, and answer all your questions.
If you are scheduled for dental implant surgery in our office, and you still have some concerns, call our office right away and we will be happy to address them. We want you to be comfortable and safe. We will answer all your questions to help ease your anxiety and help you prepare for the procedure.
How does dental implant surgery work?
The process starts with an initial evaluation. Then the surgical process begins. There will be multiple stages and each stage will require post-surgery healing before the next stage can begin. Finally, the entire process is finalized with the attachment of the artificial tooth.
Continue reading below to learn more details about each step of the process.
A comprehensive dental exam will be performed.
A full and thorough assessment will be done as part of your initial evaluation. X-rays will be taken and teeth models used to ensure the implants will closely match your natural teeth. Your jawbone will be examined.
Your medical history will be reviewed.
You have to tell your dentist and oral surgeon about any conditions you have and any medications you are currently taking. This is important for your safety.
The oral surgeon will discuss with you the different types of surgical anesthesia and the best one for you during the procedure.
You will be given a pre-surgery “to do” list.
You will be given a list of things to do prior to the day of the surgery. Make sure to read this when you get it and ask your oral surgeon any questions you might have. The pre-surgery preparation is critical for a successful operation.
What to expect after the procedure and treatment plan.
You will be told to have somebody to take you home after the procedure. Expect to completely rest in the next 24 hours after the procedure. And you will be given instructions on how to care for yourself during your recovery period.
Pain management will be discussed.
Options for controlling pain will be discussed thoroughly with you. The options you have during surgery include local anesthesia, sedation or general anesthesia. The oral surgeon will talk to you about which option is best for you.
You will be given instructions about what and what not to eat and drink before surgery. It will depend on what type of anesthesia you will be using.
Ask your questions.
Make sure you understand everything during the initial evaluation. You must ask questions if something is not clear to you. But if you have questions after the initial evaluation, don’t hesitate to call your oral surgeon’s office to ask your question.
Dental implant surgery is performed in stages. It is usually done in your surgeon’s office as an outpatient procedure.
It involves multiple steps and enough time is given in between steps for healing. The steps include:
Removal of damaged tooth if it hasn’t already come out by some other way.
The jawbone is prepped for surgery. If needed, bone grafting is done.
Once the jawbone has healed, the implant is inserted into the gumline.
After waiting for the jaw to heal once again, the abutment (this is the piece that screws into the implant) is placed and an artificial tooth is attached on top.
This whole process could take several months because of the waiting time for bone growth and healing.
Implant Surgery and Bone Grafting
The mouth exerts a great amount of pressure on your jawbone when you chew. This powerful chewing action need jawbones that can support the implant. Otherwise, the implant surgery would fail.
A bone graft can create a more solid base for the dental implant.
Therefore, if you have a jawbone that isn’t thick enough or is too soft, bone grafting will be necessary prior to insertion of implant.
Bone grafting is a procedure in which a small bit of bone is transplanted to help solidify the implant base. Typically, the bone transplant comes from another area in the upper or lower jawbone that is away from the implant area. Sometimes, it comes from another part of the body.
Another option is a synthetic bone graft. It is a bone-substitute material that provides support structures for new bone growth.
It will take several weeks or months for transplanted bone to grow enough new bone to support a dental implant.
Your oral surgeon will be able to explain bone grafting to you in great detail. They will discuss with you which bone grafting material is best for you.
Depending on the condition of your jawbone, you may have to wait for the bone to heal first before insertion of the implant. Or do the bone grafting or implant during the same surgery. Either way, healing of the implant is an essential step.
While the implant heals, you may be given temporary removable dentures. You will have to care for these dentures and keep it always clean.
The healing process involves the bone growing into and uniting with the surface of the implant. Once healed, it will become a part of the natural gum line. This healing process can take from three to nine months.
Placing the Abutment
Once the jawbone is completely healed, and the bone and the implant has integrated, the abutment is installed.
The abutment is the piece that screws into the dental implant. This is where the artificial tooth will be attached later.
The oral surgeon reopens the gums to expose the dental implant. Once exposed, the abutment is attached to the implant. The gum tissue is then closed back around the abutment. This will heal in about two weeks.
This is a minor procedure and may be done with a local anesthetic.
Choosing Your New Artificial Teeth
As soon as the gum has healed, impressions will be made of your mouth and remaining teeth so they can be used to make your artificial tooth for your dental implant.
Two main types of artificial teeth to choose from:
1) Removable Implant Prosthesis – Artificial tooth mounted on a metal frame that snaps securely onto the implant abutment. Can be removed easily for cleaning or replacing. More affordable option.
2) Fixed Implant Prosthesis – Cannot be removed for cleaning or easy replacement. It’s either permanently screwed on to the abutment or cemented down.
Talk to your dentist about these two options. Perhaps you could see a model of each type. This way, you can feel better with making a decision on the type of artificial teeth for you.
After the Dental Implant Surgery
Expect discomfort after every stage of the process. You will have to be patient as healing takes time.
After the dental implant surgery, you can expect the following:
– Swelling of the face and gums
– Bruising of the gums or skins
– Pain at and around the implant site
– Some minor bleeding
Soft diet and ice packs will help the healing process and ease the symptoms.
But even though these symptoms are expected, call your dental care specialist if they persist or become worse. If the symptoms don’t become better after a few days, it may indicate issues that need to be addressed by your dentist or oral surgeon.
Risks with Dental Implants
Complications are rare. But sometimes, they happen. You can avoid complications by doing the following:
– Avoid using tobacco products – can stain your teeth and can increase the risk of infections.
– Be sure to practice proper oral hygiene.
– Stay on top of your oral health by going to your dental appointments and examinations.
– Do not chew on ice or hard candies as these can damage both your natural teeth and your implants.
If you are wondering if you are a candidate for dental implants, call our office and we can talk about your options.
About Dr. Steven Paul, MD, DDS
Dr. Paul is a member of the American Association of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons.
He has devoted his profession to all aspects of Oral Surgery with special interests in the treatment and restoration of missing teeth through dental implant procedures including advanced techniques in full mouth rehabilitation (All on 4), bone and soft tissue grafting, restoring both function and aesthetics, as well as extraction of wisdom teeth and associated cysts and tumors of the oral cavity. All this done through anesthetic techniques specific for each individual patient.
NOTE: This article is intended to promote understanding of, and general knowledge about dental implant surgery. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dental care specialist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.