Have you lost a tooth? Although we sometimes call them “permanent teeth,” it’s an unfortunate reality that sometimes our teeth don’t last a lifetime. When this happens, it’s important to fill the empty space for a variety of reasons. Not only will it restore your smile, but also it will improve your ability to chew, your ability to talk, and your oral health overall. If you have sufficient bone density and good gum health, your dentist may recommend a dental implant. Strong, durable, and natural-looking, dental implants are an excellent solution for tooth loss. To better understand how they work, scroll down to explore the dental implant process.
The Dental Implant Process
Dental implant surgery is typically performed in stages to allow the mouth to heal between each step. For this reason, it may take many months for you to enjoy your new tooth. But once the implant is successfully installed, you’ll be so thankful that you were patient. Let’s walk through the dental implant process step by step.
In some cases, if your jawbone lacks thickness or hardness, bone grafting is necessary to give the implant a solid base of support. Several different bone grafting materials can be used, including natural and synthetic materials. Keep in mind that it may take several months for the transplanted bone to grow enough new bone to support an implant.
Dental Implant Placement
To place the implant, your oral surgeon will make a small cut in the gum in order to expose the bone. Then, they will drill holes into the bone in the appropriate place. After that, the metal post (which will function as the root of the tooth implant) will be placed deep in the bone. When this step is complete, you will still have a gap in your smile. You may wish to use a partial, temporary denture to fill the space until the dental implant process is complete.
Healing & Bone Growth
After the metal implant post is placed in your jawbone, it’s time to wait. As the weeks go by, your jawbone will grow around the dental implant to provide a firm base for your new tooth. Because chewing puts a lot of pressure on your jawbone, it’s essential that your bone is given enough time to fully heal before the next step in the process.
Next, you may need additional surgery to place the abutment, which is the piece to which the crown will attach. To do this, your oral surgeon will reopen your gum to expose the dental implant, attach the abutment, and then close the gum tissue around the abutment. Sometimes, the abutment is attached when the post is placed. However, this means that the abutment will be visible until the artificial tooth is attached. Afterward, the gums must heal for about two weeks.
Artificial Tooth Placement
Finally, your oral surgeon will make impressions of your mouth and teeth in order to create a realistic-looking artificial tooth (i.e., a crown). Once they’re confident that your jawbone can support the new tooth, they will place it on the abutment. Consulting with your oral surgeon, you will choose either a removable crown (which can be taken out for repair or cleaning) or a fixed crown (which is screwed or cemented onto the abutment).
For more information on dental implants, check out our blog posts What to Expect After Dental Implant Surgery and Benefits of Dental Implants.
Are you missing a tooth? If you would like to replace it with a dental implant or bridge and you live in Springfield, Missouri, please contact Wilkinson Dental today. You can request an appointment online or give us a call at 417-882-8222. We would be happy to help! We can also answer the question, “Are dental implants painful?” in more depth.