The Treatment Process for Dental Implants
By Steven Kail on February 14, 2014
Of all possible tooth replacement options, only dental implants can restore the structure of a tooth right down to its roots, connecting with natural gum and bone tissues. As a result, implants are often the best treatment for tooth loss, providing numerous benefits beyond those of alternative treatments. This also means, however, that the procedure for dental implants requires more steps to complete.
While we are confident that our Jackson patients will be satisfied with their new smiles, we also realize some dental procedures may seem daunting at first. To ease your concerns and help you establish accurate expectations for treatment, we offer the below information on the dental implant process.
Candidacy for Dental Implants
Before treatment, your cosmetic dentist must establish whether or not you are a good candidate for dental implants. Ideally, any lost teeth could benefit from implants, but not every patient is able to support them. Through a dental exam and X-ray imaging, your dentist will look at the health of your mouth and jaw in order to assess candidacy.
There are essentially two factors that may limit one’s candidacy for implants: the health of one’s gums and the bone tissue in one’s jaw. For those with unhealthy gums, periodontal treatment and a little patience should be enough to eventually allow implants. For insufficient bone tissue - usually a result of prolonged tooth loss - patients may have the option of undergoing a bone graft. Although bone grafting requires another oral surgery and recovery period prior to implant surgery, it allows many patients to properly support implants, giving them the opportunity to permanently benefit from a full, strong set of teeth.
Once you are deemed a good candidate for implants, preparations for surgery can begin. If you normally smoke or use tobacco products, you will be asked to abstain from these products for at least a week beforehand and additional time during recovery. Likewise, certain medications such as Warfarin may interfere with surgery, and should be temporarily suspended. Be sure to discuss such details, as well as your overall medical history, in order to avoid potential complications.
The surgery itself can be expected to proceed in the following manner:
- You will be given anesthesia via sedation, curbing discomfort and removing anxiety during surgery. For patients worried about the use of needles, we offer oral conscious sedation in the form of a pill.
- An incision will be made into the gum where each implant will be placed. If bone tissue has since grown in place of the tooth’s roots, space will be made in the jaw to accommodate the implant.
- Implants are positioned in their respective spots and installed into the jaw.
- Gum tissue is closed and sutured around implants, and a temporary crown is placed over each implant.
Because you will still be under the effects of sedation following surgery, you should arrange for someone to drive you home and be close at hand for the remainder of the day. Light bleeding may occur in the hours following surgery, but should be manageable with gauze and light pressure.
Over the first week of recovery, you will likely experience pain and swelling, as well as possible bruising near the area of surgery. With rest, pain medication, and proper post-operative care, these side effects should mostly resolve toward the end of the first week, allowing you to carry on with work and daily activities.
However, even once outward side effects have diminished, much time is still needed for the jaw’s bone tissue to heal. In fact, it is necessary for the jaw to fuse with implants in order for them to take on the full role of a tooth’s roots. This process can take anywhere between three and nine months, depending on your dental and overall health. During this time, it is important to avoid putting stress on your jaw or irritating your implants. Likewise, good hygiene is necessary to avoid infection and ensure the successful integration of your implants into your jaw.
When your dentist has determined that your bone is fully healed, you can return to the office for the replacement of your temporary crowns with permanent ones. Assuming your permanent restorations are a good fit, your new and improved smile should be complete, accurately replacing your teeth in both strength and form.
Come In for a Consultation
Meet with one our dentists to determine whether you can benefit from dental implants. If you require additional treatment first, or you are better suited for a different replacement procedure, we will gladly guide you through the treatment process. Contact our office to schedule an appointment with us.
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