Dental implants are the preferred method of tooth replacement when one or more teeth are missing or lost. A basic dental implant is made up of a metal screw that is inserted into the jaw bone and a visible crown portion of the tooth that connects to the screw. Specialized implants can also support a denture or partial denture, making them a more stable option than traditional dentures.
Dental implants help to prevent many of the issues that can arise when a missing tooth is not replaced. After you have healed from dental implant surgery, your implanted tooth will look exactly like a natural tooth, and you can care for it just like a natural tooth by brushing and flossing it daily.
An evaluation is the first step in the process of getting dental implants. Your dentist will use x-rays to assess the strength and structure of your jaw bone, as well as the position of your remaining teeth. He or she will inquire about your overall health to determine whether you are a good candidate for the procedure. Models of your teeth and mouth may be created in order to design a custom implant denture. Your dentists will describe your customised treatment process, how to prepare for implant surgery, and how long you can expect your recovery to take during or after this consultation appointment. These variables vary greatly between patients, depending on how many teeth are being replaced and where they are in your mouth.
Aside from the consultation, the dental implant procedure is usually divided into three stages. During the first visit, your dentist will make incisions in your gums, insert titanium implant screws into your jaw bone, and suture your gums closed around the implant. This procedure can be performed under local anaesthesia with a sedative to keep you comfortable, but some patients prefer IV anaesthesia. Following this initial appointment, your dentist will wait three to six months for your gums to heal and your jaw bone to fuse with the implant via a process known as osseointegration.
Once the implant has stabilised within your jaw bone, your dentist will connect an abutment to the implant. The abutment is a metal part that will hold your false tooth or crown in place. Your gums will be fused around the exposed abutment. During this procedure, your dentist will inject a local anaesthetic into your gums to numb your mouth, so you should not feel any pain.
Connecting the crown, denture, or bridge to the abutment is the third and final stage of the implant process. Most dentists complete this procedure about two weeks after the abutment is installed, allowing the gums to heal between the two procedures. Your smile should look and feel very natural once your crown, dentures, or bridge are attached to the implant.
The sooner you replace a missing tooth, the simpler the process will be.