Dental implant surgery is the process of replacing tooth roots with metal, screw-like posts and replacing damaged or missing teeth with artificial teeth that look and function much like the real ones.
A dental implant is a titanium post that replaces the root of one or more missing teeth. It fuses with your bone to provide structural integrity and can be attached to several types of replacement crowns, bridges, prostheses, etc., which are then bonded in place permanently.
There are several ways to complete the dental implant procedure. The type of implants and condition of your jawbone will determine how long the process takes, what procedures may be involved, and which tools you’ll need at each step.
The main benefit of implants is solid support for your new teeth, which requires the bone to heal around it. Bone healing can take many months. However this makes them an ideal option if you are looking at long-term stability in a tooth replacement solution.
Are Dental Implants Painful?
Most people who have received dental implants report that there is very little discomfort involved in the procedure. Local anesthesia can be used during the procedure, and many patients say that they experience less pain than a tooth extraction.
Are Dental Implants Right for You?
Dental implants are surgically placed in your jawbone, where they serve as the roots of missing teeth. Because titanium fuses with your jawbone, it can’t slip or cause bone damage like fixed bridgework or dentures might.
You are a good candidate for dental implants if:
- You have one or more teeth missing
- You have a jawbone that has reached full growth
- You have adequate jawbone to secure the implant in place
- You have healthy oral tissues
- You don’t have any conditions that can affect bone healing
- You are unable or unwilling to wear dentures
- You are willing to dedicate several months to the process
- You are not a heavy smoker
What are Some of the Dental Implant Risks?
No surgery is without risk, and dental implant surgeries are no exception. The most common risks of a dental implant include:
- Infection at the site of the implant
- Damage or injury to the surrounding structures (blood vessels and other teeth)
- Nerve damage (can cause numbness, pain, and tingling in the gums, lips, and chin)
- Sinus problems (this occurs when the implants are placed in the upper jaw and it protrudes into one of the sinus cavities)
How Can You Prepare for Dental Implant Surgery?
Several types of doctors may be involved in the dental implant process, including an oral and maxillofacial surgeon who specializes in conditions of the mouth, jaw and face; a periodontist who treats structures that support teeth such as gums or bones.
A prosthodontist who designs artificial teeth for patients with missing natural ones is often also involved. Additionally, ear nose throat (ENT) specialists are occasionally called upon to participate during this process too.
To prepare yourself for the implant process, you must undergo a thorough evaluation. This will include:
Comprehensive Dental Exam
During a comprehensive exam, you may have 3D images taken of your teeth and jaw, models made from the topography of your mouth to see how it impacts bite force. You will also receive X-rays so dentists can examine the internal structures in detail.
Review of the Medical History
Review your medical history with your doctor and tell them about all of the conditions you have as well as any medications, treatments or supplements that they need to know. If you suffer from certain heart conditions or orthopedic implants doctors may prescribe antibiotics before surgery to help prevent infection.
This treatment plan takes into account factors that are specific to your situation, such as how many teeth need replacing and the condition of your jawbone and remaining teeth.