Dental Implants – Step by Step

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A dental implant is a permanent tooth restoration that could last for your entire life. Unlike dentures, which could slide around in your mouth, dental implants are placed directly in your jaw. This allows an implant to look and function much like the natural tooth it replaces. If you’re considering dental implants, here is some more information on what you can expect from the entire process.

Step 1: assessing and preparing the dental implant site

Because dental implants fuse into your jawbone, your dentist will check the condition of the bone site and make sure there’s enough bone density to hold the implant securely. Your dentist will also use x-rays to check for nearby blood vessels and nerves.

Some treatments require the patient to undergo a special 3D scan of the area called a CT scan, this is very helpful when planning for an implant. 

For a few patients, implants are not a viable option and your dentist will suggest alternative solutions.

Some patients require a process of bone-grafting or bone regeneration to improve the amount of healthy bone to accommodate the implant securely. In most cases a graft is placed at the time the tooth that is to be replaced has been extracted, this is done to preserve the site for the coming implant. At times, this is required after a tooth has been missing for an extended period of time and some bone loss has occurred. There are different types of bone graft materials that can be placed and this will be discussed with you prior to your procedure. After placement, the bone graft will need time to heal before the implant is placed.

This is the stage to ask questions, voice any concerns about the process, and discuss your finance options. Your dentist will explain your treatment plan to you, with the reservation that during the course of the treatment alterations to the plan may be necessary.

Step 2: positioning the implant

Your dentist will anaesthetise the implant site before removing gum tissue to expose the bone underneath. Initially, a pilot hole is drilled and an alignment pin inserted to make sure the angle and position will properly accommodate the dental implant screw.

Once the dentist approves the alignment, a series of increasingly larger drills widen the hole to the correct size. Drilling will be slow, and the implant site will be flushed regularly, with either water or saline solution, to protect the bone tissue from any heat damage.

Step 3: placing the implant

Because the implant is screwed into the bone, a special instrument may be used to create a ‘thread’ in the jaw-bone to match the thread of the implant. Some implants are self-threading, which means they create their own thread as the implant is inserted.

Once the implant screw is placed, an implant cap seals the surgical site from the rest of the mouth. It is important to protect the site so the gum heals around the implant safely.  Healing times vary depending on the position of the implant site and the technique used to access the bone. Any stitches used to hold the gum around the implant cap are usually removed ten days to two weeks later. Over the counter pain relievers are usually enough to manage any discomfort that you may experience during the first few days after the procedure. Usually the implant only receives its final prosthetic tooth after several months, however, because the bone and the implant must fuse together securely, during a process called osseointegration. Allowing sufficient recovery time before placing the crown ensures pressure and movement do not disrupt the healing of the new implant.

Step 4: creating your new tooth

First, the dentist removes the temporary implant cap and attaches an abutment to the top of the implanted post. Then, depending on whether you’re replacing a single tooth or multiple teeth, either a crown or bridge will be fixed to the abutment(s). We work with skilled dental technicians to match the crown or bridge to the colour, shape and size of your natural teeth. The fitting time for this important dental implant step depends on the complexity of your treatment plan. After all, this is the part that other people will see, so it needs to look perfect as well as feel comfortable.

Structure of a dental implant

Step 5: keeping your implant healthy

The final maintenance stage is probably the most important to ensure the longevity of the implant. Your dentist will explain how to care for your implant, and schedule future appointments to monitor your oral health regularly. Although dental implants are artificial teeth and don’t decay like natural teeth, it is important to guard against gum disease. After going through the dental implant stages, the anticipation and investment, you’ll want your implanted teeth to last.

Yes, these dental implant steps are worth it!

Dental implants are the most functional and aesthetic way to replace a missing tooth or teeth. More and more patients are benefitting from advantages of dental implants:

  • Although more expensive compared to dentures or bridges, our patients say implants are worth the investment in the long run.
  • Modern innovation ensures the procedure is safer, more effective and less difficult than in the past.
  • In form and function, implants are closer to real teeth than any alternative replacement.
  • Dental implants can either replace a single missing tooth, or anchor a bridge to replace multiple missing teeth.
  • Because implants integrate with your jawbone, with good care they will last longer than traditional dentures.
  • Once completed, with good care dental implants are no more trouble than regular teeth.

Eat, talk, laugh and kiss without discomfort or embarrassment.

Dental implants are a reliable, long-lasting solution for missing teeth which bring a range of benefits.

If you would like to find out more about the costs of the procedure, or why we recommend implants as a first choice solution for missing teeth, please contact us today for a no-obligation discussion.

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