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Dental Implants

Missing a tooth or teeth? Consider this procedure to make your smile and bite as good as new!

What is a Dental Implant Surgery?

Dental implant surgery is a procedure that replaces tooth roots with metal, screwlike posts and replaces damaged or missing teeth with artificial teeth that look and function much like real ones.

A dental implant is attached to the jawbone or skull and provides a point of attachment for a dental prosthetic such as a bridge or crown. It relies on something called osseointegration, a biological process that causes bone to form a tight bond with other materials. Dental implants are typically made of titanium or special ceramics, which have been used in surgical procedures for decades due to their high resistance to corrosion.

Overview of Procedure

Dental implant surgery is an outpatient surgery performed in stages, with healing time between procedures. The process of placing a dental implant involves multiple steps, including:

  • Removing any damaged teeth
  • Jawbone preparation (bone grafting), if needed
  • Dental implant screw placement
  • Bone growth and healing
  • Abutment placement
  • Artificial tooth (crown) placement

The entire process can take a few months from start to finish. Much of that time is spent healing and waiting for the growth of new bone in your jaw.

What Can I Expect?

After existing teeth are removed and/or bone grafting is complete and healed, at your next appointment, Dr. Watson makes an incision in the gingiva (your gums), creating flaps that can be pushed back to expose the bone. Once the gums are pushed back, we drill a pilot hole and expand the hole using different drill speeds and bits.

Dr. Watson places a metal implant post in your jaw, which will serve as the root of the “tooth.” The post is tightened and fastens the implant into place — ensuring that it’s tight enough to remain secure but not so tight that it overloads the surrounding bone. Once the post is placed, it is allowed to heal until osseointegration occurs. This process can take several months and provides a solid base for your new tooth.

When osseointegration is complete, an abutment is attached to the metal post and impressions are taken for your new crown. It takes about two weeks for the abutment to heal. During that time, a custom crown is created for you. The tooth prosthesis (the crown) attaches directly to the abutment, once your jawbone is strong enough to support the new tooth.

You may experience some swelling and mild discomfort at the implant site. You may or may not require pain medications and/or antibiotics after the implant surgery. Dr. Watson will cover all the details with you before we begin your dental implant procedure and we will answer any questions you might have!  

Benefits

The primary benefit of a dental implant is to help preserve the jaw structure by preventing atrophy from bone loss. A dental implant also allows Dr. Watson to attach and remove dental prostheses without performing additional surgeries. Once osseointegration is complete, your new implant should last for decades! In comparison, a bridge or crown may require replacement every 15 years or so. Additionally, dental implants require much less care than other options, such as a bridge or partial denture.

Risks

The most significant risks of dental surgery are infection and necrosis of the flap of gingival tissue while the initial incision is healing. Anatomic structures such as nerves and blood vessels can potentially be damaged during surgery, but this is not common. Most dental implants are successful. Sometimes, however, the bone fails to fuse sufficiently to the metal implant. Smoking, for example, may contribute to implant failure and complications, so it is very important that you practice good oral hygiene during the process!

Missing a Tooth or Teeth? Call Today!

Consider a single-tooth dental implant if you’re missing a tooth. It will allow you to speak and smile with confidence while still enjoying all your favorite foods. Schedule an appointment or contact us today to learn more about dental implants!