Cosmetic Dentistry

How Do Dental Implants Work?

June 2, 2022
A woman holding a fake dental implant mockup.
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Dental implants are tooth replacements that are artificial, implanted with a metal screw into the bone of the jaw. These implants are permanent and they replace damaged and missing teeth in a very effective fashion, looking just like your real teeth and being much more firmly implanted than other tooth replacement techniques,

What is the Dental Implant Procedure Timeline?

Dental Implant Procedure Steps

Dental Exam

The first thing you need to do to get an implant is to have a comprehensive dental exam to prepare for this significant dental implant procedure. X-rays will be taken to make sure that your mouth is prepared for a dental implant. In some cases, if the X-rays show questionable results, an MRI will be needed to see if a dental implant can be placed. 

During this dental exam, the dentist will get a full medical history, making special note of health conditions and allergies. They will want to know what medications you’re taking, and if you have other major health problems like heart conditions. 

Finally, the dentist will make a specialzied treatment plan that is perfect for your own implant surgery. 

Dental Implant Surgery Timeline

Anesthesia

Depending on the situation, the dentist or oral surgeon will give you anesthesia which can either be a local anesthesia, sedation, or general anesthesia. 

Damaged Tooth Removal

If you have a damaged tooth or teeth that need to be removed for implant placement, then that will be the first part of the implant procedure. Tooth extractions are generally easy and quick. If you are already missing the tooth, then the dentist will make a detailed examination of the gum and area where the tooth used to be.

Jawbone Preparation

This may be minor or it may be extended. The jawbone is what the screw on the artifical tooth is drilled into. If your jawbone is in good condition, then this step will be minor. 

If you have problems with your jawbone (not necessarily bone deficiencies, but possibly the artificial tooth roots will go into a thin area.). If needed, the oral surgeon will do some bone grafts. 

Dental Implant Placement

Then the dentist will replace the tooth with a dental implant. To do this, the oral surgeon will cut open the gum to expose the bone. A hole will be drilled into the bone which the artificial tooth will be screwed into. 

This is not a shallow hole, but the tooth will be implanted deep into the bone. Note that the tooth is not attached to the screw at this point. The screw, or post, is put down into the hole and will be left for a period of time.

Removable Denture Will be Fitted

The dental implant isn’t immediately placed at the time that the hole is drilled for the artificial tooth. Instead you will get a temporary denture to take the place of the tooth.

Bone Growth 

With the screw or post in place, a process needs to take place called osseointegratioon. This is when the jawbone grows to accept the screw. This part of the process takes the longest–it can take several months for the bone to grow securely around the post. 

Affixing the Abutment

Once you’re ready for the implant, the oral surgeon may need to place an abutment. This is a part of the implant that is the connector between the screw and the artificial tooth. 

Getting Your Artificial Teeth

Once the abutment is in, and your gums have healed, it is time to get your new tooth. The dentist, in consultation with you, will match the color of the artificial tooth to the other teeth in your mouth. The implant will then be permanently attached to the screw in your jawbone. It may or may not be cemented, or simply screwed on. 

Post Implant Care

As you are going through all of this, both after the drilling into the jawbone, then after the abutment, to after the final implant, you can experience symptoms like swelling and bruising. You will have pain which the oral surgeon or dentist will treat with pain medications, generally over-the-counter. There may be minor bleeding which you can staunch with gauze. 

After all is done, you’ll want to make sure that you’re getting excellent oral hygiene and that you see your dentist on schedule every time. And eating the right foods will be important, such as not chewing hard candy, and avoiding tooth-staining things like tobacco or coffee. 

Want to learn more about dental implants and book a consultation? Click here.

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