Dental Implants: Consultation, Procedure, Recovery and Aftercare
Dental implants are artificial tooth roots
used to support a restoration for a missing tooth or teeth,
helping to stop or prevent jaw bone loss. The dental implant
procedure is categorized as a form of prosthetic (artificial
replacement) dentistry, but also is considered a form of
have lost teeth might feel too self-conscious to smile or talk.
Additionally, biting irregularities caused by tooth loss can
have a negative effect on eating habits, leading to secondary
health problems like malnutrition.
missing tooth roots, dental implants provide people with the
strength and stability required to eat all the foods they love,
without struggling to chew. Additionally, dental implants
stimulate and maintain jaw bone, preventing bone loss and
helping to maintain facial features.
Consultation, Placement, and Recovery
To determine if implants are right for
you, a consultation with your dentist,
oral surgeon, and/or
periodontist or prosthodontist is
needed. During this appointment, your dental professional will
thoroughly examine your teeth and gums and evaluate bone density
and quantity. This may involve X-rays and computer tomography
scans (CT scans) to ensure there is sufficient bone structure
for placing the implant(s), and to determine exactly where the
implant should be placed.
Based on the condition of your oral
tissues, oral hygiene and personal habits, and commitment to
follow aftercare instructions, your dentist will advise you of
the most appropriate dental implant treatment plan. Some
patients with insufficient bone or gum tissue require bone or
soft tissue grafts and/or the use of small diameter implants
your situation, your dental professional will advise you of how
long the entire treatment process will take, how many
appointments will be necessary and what you can expect after
each procedure. During the consultation, options for local
anesthesia (to numb the affected and surrounding areas) and
sedation dentistry, if necessary, also will be discussed.
The Dental Implant Placement Procedure
implant restorations are virtually indistinguishable from other
teeth. This appearance is aided in part by the structural and
functional connection between the dental implant and the living
bone. Implants are typically placed in a single sitting but
require a period of osseointegration.
Osseointegration is the process by which the dental implant
anchors to the jaw bone. Osseointegrated implants are the most
commonly used and successful type of dental implant. An
osseointegrated implant takes anywhere from three to six months
to anchor and heal, at which point your dentist can complete the
procedure by placing a crown restoration. If osseointegration
does not occur, the implant will fail.
implantation, which is performed to replace missing teeth, can
be done any time after adolescence or when bone growth is
complete. Certain medical conditions, such as active diabetes,
cancer or periodontal disease, may require additional treatment
before the implant procedure can be performed.
Detailed procedural steps are as follows:
Jaw for Implantation: A dental implant restoration is commonly
composed of a titanium material screw and a crown. A
small-diameter hole (pilot hole) is drilled at edentulous (where
there is no tooth) jaw sites in order to guide the titanium
screw that holds a dental implant in place. To avoid damaging
vital jaw and face structures like the inferior alveolar nerve
in the mandible (lower jaw), a dentist must use great skill and
expertise when boring the pilot hole and sizing the jaw bone. In
many instances dentists use surgical guides created based on the
CT scans when placing the dental implants.
Placement of the Implant: After the
initial pilot hole has been drilled into the appropriate jaw
site, it is slowly widened to allow placement of the implant
screw. Once in place, surrounding gum tissue is secured over the
implant and a protective cover screw is placed on top to allow
the site to heal and osseointegration to occur. After up to six
months of healing, your dentist will uncover the implant and
attach an abutment (which holds the crown or tooth-like
replacement) to the implant. In some cases, the abutment may be
attached during the initial procedure. When the abutment is in
place, your dentist then will create a temporary crown. The
temporary crown serves as a template
around which the gum grows and shapes itself in a natural way.
The process is completed when the temporary crown is replaced
with a permanent crown.
recovery depends on a number of factors, including the various
procedures required to complete your treatment. However, it is
generally recognized that once an implant has been placed,
maintaining diligent oral hygiene habits is required to ensure
proper fusing of the implant and bone structure. If cared for
properly, an implant restoration can remain in place for more
than 40 years.
initial surgical procedure, discomfort should be minimal.
Swelling of your gums and face may occur, as well as minor
bleeding and bruising of the implant site. Prescription pain
medications may be prescribed by your dentist to relieve any
pain or discomfort you feel after the procedure.
the surgical procedure to place the dental implant(s) takes up
to six months, while the fitting and seating of the crown(s) can
take up to two months. Again, this timeframe depends on
individual cases and treatments. Follow-up appointments with
your treatment coordinators are essential for monitoring your
Implant Surgery Follow-up and Aftercare
For five to
seven days after surgery, your diet should be restricted to soft
foods. If stitches are present, they may need to be removed by
your dentist; however, self-dissolving stitches that do not
require removal are typically used.
restorations were placed along with the dental implant, it will
be important to clean them as you would your natural teeth to
ensure the best possible healing and fusing of the implant.
floss and brush is a leading cause of implant failure, and
infection can occur if the implant and surrounding areas are not
cleaned properly. Smoking also is attributed to high failure
rates with dental implants and should be avoided following
Reviewed By: W. Peter Nordland, DMD