Has your dentist suggested a dental implant to replace a severely decayed or missing tooth? If so, you have little to worry about. Our patients love this innovative technology, as this device looks completely natural and behaves just like a natural tooth too! That said, it is important to educate yourself on the procedure before starting this process. Here are a few things you should know before you begin.
How They Work
If you have a severely decayed or damaged tooth, dental implants are often considered the preferred method of restoring your smile. The implant serves as a prosthetic dental root — this titanium screw is inserted deep into the gums where it will ultimately fuse with your jawbone. Once this implant has successfully healed, it is covered with a dental crown. The final result is a sturdy device that looks and performs just like a natural tooth!
The timeframe for this procedure can vary from patient to patient, as it depends on a number of factors. The shortest possible timeframe for a dental implant—including the surgeries and permanent crown placement—is about five months with the lower jaw and six months for the upper jaw. This process requires two surgeries, with about six months between them. However, if your jawbone is not strong enough to sustain a dental implant, this may require additional bone grafting surgeries to build up the jaw. This can make the process last a year or more.
This procedure will require you to make multiple in-office visits. That said, if you do not require any additional bone grafting procedures, you can expect this process to require the following steps:
- X-Rays: Your dentist will take x-rays and dental impressions to evaluate your gums and jawbone prior to the procedure.
- Anesthesia: A local or general anesthetic will be administered to ensure you don’t feel a thing during the procedure.
- Tooth Extraction: If the tooth that is going to be replaced is still in the gums, they will first need to perform a tooth extraction.
- Titanium Implant: We will open the gums to insert a titanium screw into the bone.
- Healing: Once the procedure is complete, the titanium screw will gradually fuse to the bone over the next few months. We will place a temporary crown over the initial procedure site so you won’t have a gap in your smile during this period.
- Potential Second Procedure: Typically, dental implants integrate both the post and anchor in one device. However, depending on your device, you may require another procedure to insert the post that will secure your artificial tooth.
- Crown: Once your device is healed, we will place a customized crown over your implant, allowing it to blend in with the rest of your smile.
The Healing Process
There will be a healing period of about six months between your two procedures to allow the dental implant to fuse to your jawbone. During this time, you may need to stick to soft foods for about a week. You may also require antibiotics and over-the-counter pain medication during this time.
According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, dental implants boast a 95 percent success rate! Therefore, if taken care of properly, your dental implant should last you a lifetime. Luckily, maintaining your dental implant is quite simple. Simply maintain a proper dental hygiene routine and visit your dentist for routine check-ups to keep your dental implant (and surrounding teeth) in good condition!
Ready to proceed with the dental implant process? Call Metro Square Dental Associates in Vernon Hills to schedule your consultation today.