Dental implant surgery is a process that involves the replacement of tooth roots with metal posts. You can also replace a damaged tooth with an artificial tooth that functions and looks natural . It offers a great alternative to dentures that do not fit well. It can also be helpful when a lack of natural teeth roots restricts building bridgework tooth replacement.
The way dental implant surgery is performed depends on the type of implant and the condition of the jawbone. It should be also mentioned that this surgery involves multiple procedures. The main advantage of dental implants is that they provide great support for the new teeth.
Tooth implant surgery is typically performed for a number of reasons. Tooth implant process might be right for if you have:
- A missing tooth or teeth
- A jawbone that has reached full growth
- An adequate bone needed to secure implants
- Healthy oral tissues
- Do not have any health issues that might affect bone healing
- Unable to wear dentures
The tooth implant process involves placing an implant in your jawbone, which is aimed at performing the function of the roots of missing teeth. The implants are not going to slip, make noise or cause bone damage the way fixed dentures can. This is normally due to the fact that titanium in the implants fuses with your jawbone. Additionally, the materials of implants cannot decay like your own teeth. The following section of the article focuses on describing the tooth implant process in a detailed way.
Preparation for dental implant
Generally, the preparation stage involves a number of specialists, which include professionals in the field of treating structures that support the teeth such as a periodontist, doctors who specialize in conditions of the mouth, face, and jaw such as a maxillofacial and oral surgeon, ENT (ear, nose, throat) and prosthodontist.
Due to the fact that the tooth implant process involves multiple surgical interventions, you have to go through a detailed examination. Some of the preparation procedures include:
- Precise dental examination: it can include 3D and x-ray images and the creation of models of your teeth and jaw.
- Evaluation of your medical history: you will need to discuss with your doctor any medical conditions that you have already experienced as well as any medications that you used to take or are currently taking. In case if you experience any health conditions related to your heart, a doctor might prescribe antibiotics before the dental implant surgery takes place.
- Treatment: this plan is going to be tailored to your personal situation and it will take into account the number of teeth that were replaced and the conditions of your remaining teeth and jawbone.
Apart from that, for the purpose of pain control, a doctor will make use of anesthesia options such as local, sedation or general anesthesia. Based on your personal case, a doctor will determine which one will work best for you. You will also be instructed regarding eating and drinking before the surgery. If a doctor decides to use general anesthesia during the surgery, you need to ensure that you have someone to pick you up from the hospital.
Tooth implant process
As mentioned above, this type of surgery is performed in different stages with healing time in between. These procedures are listed below:
- Removal of the damaged tooth jawbone preparation
- Jawbone crafting if needed
- Tooth implant placement
- Bone growth and healing
- Abutment placement
- Artificial tooth placement
In general, the process might take several months. A lot of time is typically devoted to healing and waiting for the new bone to grow in your jaw. In some cases, a doctor might combine several procedures.
Need for jawbone grafting
This procedure is needed if your jawbone is too soft. That is mainly needed because the powerful chewing action of your mouth puts great pressure on your bone and if it is not able to support the implant, there is a high risk of dental implant surgery failing. A bone graft is able to provide a more solid base for the implant. The jawbone can be rebuilt by several bone graft materials including synthetic bone graft, which is a bone-substitute material that is able to provide a support structure for new bone growth.
Specialists say that it might take several months for the transplanted bone to grow enough to support a dental implant. It may also be the case that only minor bone grafting is needed, which can be done simultaneously with implant surgery.
Placement of the tooth implant
This process involves making a cut in order to open the gum and expose the bone. The next step is drilling holes into the bone where the dental implant metal post will be installed. Due to the fact that the post will perform a function of a tooth root, it should be placed deep into the bone. However, you will still have a gap where your tooth is missing. You can make use of a temporary denture for appearance purposes, which can be removed when you sleep and during cleaning.
Waiting for the bone to grow
When the metal post is installed in your jawbone, osseointegration starts. During this stage, the jawbone grows into and unites with the surface of the dental implant. This process allows having a solid base for the new artificial tooth, just as roots do for your natural teeth.
Placement of the abutment
You might also need additional surgery to place the abutment after the healing stage. An abutment is a piece where the crown eventually attaches. This procedure is normally performed with the use of local anesthesia. The process of placing the abutment works in the following way:
- Surgeon reopens the gums to expose the dental implant
- The abutment is attached to the tooth implant
- The gum tissue is then closed around, but not over, the abutment
A doctor might also attach the abutment to the tooth implant metal post when the post is implanted, meaning that you will not need an extra surgical step. After placing the abutment, your gums need time to heal for around two weeks before it becomes possible to attach the artificial tooth.
Deciding on the new artificial teeth
When your gums heal completely, a doctor will make more impressions of your mouth and remaining teeth. It is needed in order to make the crown, which cannot be placed until the jawbone is strong enough to support the use of the new tooth. Removable, fixed artificial teeth are the possible available options to choose from.
- Removable: they are similar to a traditional removable denture, containing the artificial white teeth surrounded by pink plastic gum. It is generally mounted on a metal frame, which is attached to the implant abutment and it can be easily removed for repair or daily cleaning.
- Fixed: in this case, an artificial tooth is permanently cemented or screwed into an individual implant abutment. In the vast majority of times, each crown is attached to its own tooth implant. It is not possible to remove the tooth for cleaning purposes or during sleep. Due to the fact that implants are extremely strong, several teeth can be replaced by one implant if they are bridged together.