If you have a missing or damaged tooth and are considering a dental implant, you may have a lot of questions about getting ready for your surgery, the surgery itself and what happens afterward.
We’ll lay all that out, so you’ll feel less anxious about your procedure.
Preparing for Dental Implants
Once you and your dentist have decided to replace a tooth, you’ll probably be referred to a specialist like an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, a periodontist, a prosthodontist, or even an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist. There are several steps to go through before you get your new implant.
Your specialist will complete a comprehensive dental exam with x-rays and possibly 3-D images. S/he may also make models of your teeth and jaw. From this point, you’ll have a detailed treatment plan and know what steps need to be taken before the implant.
If the damaged tooth is still in place, your specialist will remove the tooth. They will preserve as much bone and tissue as possible. After inspecting the socket and making any additional cleaning or prep work, you’ll be sent home to heal.
The specialist will determine if your jaw is thick and hard enough to accept the implant. If it isn’t, you may need a bone graft. The specialist will use either your bone from another body part or a synthetic graft. It can take several months for the graft to heal and stimulate new bone growth.
Getting the Dental Implant
At this point, you are ready for the dental implant. The specialist opens the tissue over the site and drills a small hole. The implant post is placed, and the tissue is stitched. As with any dental work, you may experience some pain and swelling. Follow post-procedure pain management directions while you wait for the next step. Your jaw needs to heal around the implant and will lay down new bone around the implant. It takes several months for this to occur, but it is a very important step. You may get a temporary denture for cosmetic reasons.
The next step is to place the base or abutment for the crown. This is sometimes done when the implant is placed – talk to your specialist about whether or not to place it with the implant or later. It’s mainly a cosmetic concern. Once the abutment is in place, you need to wait for the site to heal, generally two weeks.
Your dentist will make impressions of your teeth and have a replacement crafted. They’ll do their best to match color and size so that your new crown looks as natural as possible and fits well into your mouth. You can choose from a removeable crown that can be snapped out of the abutment for cleaning for repairs, or a permanent one. Talk to your dentist to see which is best for your unique situation.
It’s time for the last step! Your dentist will set the implant. Et voila! Your new smile is ready to go.
Taking Care of Your Dental Implant
You take care of your dental implant just like regular teeth. Brush, floss, and keep your dental appointments. Avoid chewing hard items like ice and hard candy. Avoid tobacco and caffeine because they will stain your teeth and crown.
Getting a dental implant is not an immediate solution, but it is a permanent and generally very successful procedure. If you are interested in dental implants, start an internet search today to find a qualified specialist to help you improve your overall health and your smile with a dental implant.