The Dental Implant Procedure
Understanding what to expect before, during, and after the dental implant procedure can help patients play a more active role in their treatment outcome. Receiving an implant-supported restoration typically requires two surgeries and takes several months to complete. Based on scans and an oral health examination, a dentist or specialist can determine whether you are a candidate for dental implants. You may first require certain preparatory measures, such as a bone graft or treatment for gum disease, and these procedures will add to your overall treatment timeline.
The Treatment Timeline
Treatment typically takes three to six months, from implant placement to restoration.
Preparing for Surgery
Prior to the day of your procedure, you and your dentist will discuss available sedation options, as well as what to expect during surgery and throughout your recovery process. In most cases, someone should escort you to and from your procedure. They may need to drive you home and stay with you for the first night, depending on the type of sedation you select. If your dentist prescribes oral conscious sedation, you will need to take the sedative about an hour before your appointment.
Understanding what to expect before, during, and after the dental implant procedure can help patients play a more active role in their treatment outcome.
During your appointment, your dentist will first administer anesthesia to numb the treatment area and ensure you are comfortable throughout the surgery. Next, they will make small incisions in your gums and create a space in the jawbone for the implant posts. Your dentist will then embed the implants into your jaw and close your gums using sutures. The length of your procedure will depend on the number of implants being placed.
Depending on the location of your implants and the type of restoration you are receiving, your dentist may also place a temporary restoration. This is especially important for patients who want to maintain the appearance of highly visible teeth.
Placing a Dental Implant
Dental implants are surgically placed in the jawbone.
Osseointegration and Recovery
Over the next three to six months, a process known as osseointegration will occur. During this time, the titanium posts will fuse with the surrounding bone tissue to essentially become part of your body. Osseointegration creates a solid foundation for your implant-supported restoration. As you heal, you will attend periodic appointments so your dentist can monitor your progress. Once the recovery period is complete, the doctor will schedule a second surgery to place your abutments.
Abutments are small connector pieces which attach your implant posts to your restoration. During this minor surgery, your dentist will reopen the soft tissue to expose the top of the implants and attach the abutments. For most patients, it takes about two weeks for the gums to heal, after which time you can proceed with the next stage of treatment.
Designing and Placing Your Restoration
Your dentist will take impressions of your implants, gums, and surrounding teeth to design your custom dental crown, bridge, or denture. The fabrication of your restoration can take two to three weeks, depending on the size of the prosthetic. Again, your dentist may provide you with a temporary restoration to wear during this time. When your restoration is complete, your dentist can make any final adjustments before affixing your appliance to the implant posts for a fully restored smile.
While receiving dental implants involves a significant investment and lengthy treatment timeline, an implant-supported restoration can offer long-lasting aesthetic and oral health benefits. With proper care, your implants can provide a lifetime of support for your restoration.
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