You’ve finally had that troublesome tooth removed, but now you’re left with a gap in your smile. Should you hide it with a bridge or a dental implant? You know an implant will last longer but while your dentist is explaining the tooth implant process, all you can think about is tooth implant pain.
It’s understandable that you should feel some apprehension at the thought of having a titanium spike surgically implanted in your jaw. But dental implants have been used successfully since 1952 to restore the smiles and self-confidence of millions of people. And if they can do it, so can you. To help ease your concerns, we’ll explain exactly what implants are and what you can expect during a dental implants procedure.
What is a dental implant?
An implant is basically a false tooth that is built around a titanium post. The post is implanted in your jaw to act as a “root”. Once it has bonded with the jaw bone (a process called osseointegration) the false tooth is built on top of it. A dental implant looks, feels and acts like a normal tooth, and if you maintain a good oral hygiene regime, it’ll last a lifetime.
The dental implant procedure
The implant process itself is split into two phases and can last for up to nine months if there is a bone graft involved. The first is the surgery itself when the post is implanted in your jaw. This is the implant part of the procedure. Then the jaw needs to heal and bond with the implant, which usually takes 6 to 12 weeks. The second stage involves creating a false tooth to match your other teeth, and fixing it to the “root”.
How long does a dental implant procedure take?
Generally speaking, the surgery lasts for one or two hours, including prep time. There are several factors which can influence the length of the operation. These are:
- Your overall dental health
- How many teeth are involved
- Which teeth are being replaced
The day of the surgery
Your dentist will give you some instructions to help you prepare for the surgery. These may include the following:
- Using an antibacterial mouthwash
- Taking antibiotics for a few days before the procedure as a precaution
- Instructions on what and when to eat, depending on the type of sedation you have opted for.
The surgery itself is performed in the dentists’ offices as an outpatient procedure using a local anesthetic. It is recommended you have someone to bring you home after the procedure because of the after-effects of the anesthesia.
Phase one: The Surgery
- The surgeon makes an incision in the gum to expose the bone at the implant site.
- A hole is drilled in the bone to accommodate the implant
- The implant is screwed into place and capped with a second component which remains in place during the healing process.
- The gums are sealed over the implant site, possible with one or two stitches if necessary.
There will be some soreness, bruising and possibly swelling around the implant site for a few days after the surgery. Your dentist will prescribe pain medication for this. Over the next several weeks, you’ll have to visit the dentist a few times so they can monitor the healing and osseointegration process.
Phase Two: The Crown
Once the implant has bonded with the jaw, it is time to construct the crown (false tooth).
- The implant is re-exposed and a small extension is fitted. The crown will be attached to this.
- You will have a series of appointments with your dentist while they take impressions of your teeth and model your new crown.
- Once the crown is ready, it will be attached to the implant as the final stage of the procedure.
And that’s it, done. Now not only is your smile restored to its former glory, but you should also find it easier to eat and talk. So, don’t put it off any longer, make an appointment today and our expert orthodontists will answer any further questions.