Did you know that about 3 million Americans have dental implants? If your doctor recommends a dental implant procedure, you shouldn't be worried. The surgery is considered the most effective way of replacing missing or damaged teeth. Although the procedure is outpatient, it is performed in stages.
Here are the six main steps that you should know:
1. Removing Damaged Tooth
If you don't have missing teeth, then they could be damaged. Some of the common signs of damaged teeth include:
- Cracked, broken, or chipped teeth
- Pain in the gums or teeth
The first step in a dental implant procedure is the removal of damaged teeth that need replacement. A normal tooth extraction process is followed, and local anesthesia is used to give you a painless experience.
2. Jawbone Grafting
Once the damaged teeth have been removed, your jawbone has to be prepared for the implants. However, not everyone requires grafting. Some of the alarming signs that you might need bone grafting include:
- Jawbone trauma
- Having insufficient bone density in your jawbone
- When you have an existing periodontal disease
- If you have been experiencing jawbone degeneration
For the dental implant procedure to be successful, the doctor will harvest hard tissue from other areas of the body and transplant it on your jawbone to promote healthy bone growth.
3. Implant Placement
At this stage, the oral surgeon will cut your gum to access the bone. They will then drill a hole in the bone where the titanium screws will be placed. At this point, the implant will still be fresh and fragile, and a new tooth can't be placed on it yet. The doctor may give you a temporary denture to use as the bone heals.
4. Bone Healing and Growth
Once the metal screws have been placed into the jawbone, the jawbone may take from two weeks to several months to heal. During this time, the jawbone grows and strongly unites with the dental implant, a process known as osseointegration. This stage ensures that you have a solid base upon which the artificial teeth will be placed.
5. Abutment Placing
The abutment is the piece on which the crown containing artificial teeth will be attached. Once osseointegration is complete, the oral surgeon may again open your gum and attach the abutment to the implant. Some doctors may choose to attach the abutment when implanting the metal posts such that you will not require an extra surgical step.
6. Placing the Artificial Teeth
Once your gums are completely healed, the crown is placed, and you are now ready for new teeth. Your surgeon will recommend three types of artificial teeth, namely:
- Removable teeth
- Fixed teeth
- Combination of both
Although a dental implant procedure is an outpatient surgery, it involves six main steps. In this context, it may take a few months before you can have and use your much-anticipated new teeth. For more information about the dental implant process, contact a dentist.