Dental Implant Surgery Procedure
Dental implant surgery can be performed in several steps, depending on the kind of implant you're getting and the health of your jawbone. The process requires the jawbone to heal tightly around the dental implant area (called osseointegration), absorbing it into the gumline as if it were a natural tooth. The implants are surgically placed within the jawbone and serve as the "root" of the artificial tooth. Titanium is often used for this procedure because it fuses the implant with the jawbone, remains firmly in place, and won't decay like some bridgework.
Because dental implants require several surgical procedures, your dentist or oral surgeon will conduct a full and thorough evaluation, including X-rays and teeth models, to ensure the dental implants will closely match your natural teeth.
Next, your dentist will review the condition of your jawbone concerning how many teeth you plan on having replaced with implants. This planning process could involve several types of dental specialists, including a maxillofacial surgeon or a periodontist.
Your dentist will also want to know about any medical conditions you have, as well as any medications you are taking, including over-the-counter medicines. Do you have any heart conditions or orthopedic implants? If so, your dental specialist might prescribe antibiotics before the surgery to help prevent infection.
Your doctor should know and discuss your surgical anesthesia options and which might be best for you during the procedure. Your surgical team also might provide a list of dos and don'ts that you should adhere to leading up to the surgery.
If you haven't already, arrange for a friend or family member to drive you to and from the surgery because you'll be in no condition to drive yourself after the procedure. Expect to be in "full rest" mode for the rest of the day following the surgery.
During the Surgery
Dental implant surgery is often done in several stages, requiring the jawbone to heal entirely around the implant before proceeding. Here is the typical order of procedures:
- Remove the damaged tooth if it hasn't already come out in some other way.
- Prep the jawbone for surgery, which might include some measure of bone grafting.
- Once the jawbone heals, insert the implant into the gumline.
- Give the jaw time to heal again. Then, the surgeon will place the abutment (the piece that screws into the implant) and attach the artificial tooth on top, completing the full implant.
This process could take up to several months to allow your jaw time to heal and to prepare for the final installation of the implant. Without a strong jawbone in place, the implant won't take, so it's essential to be patient during the healing process. Let's next take a more in-depth look at some of the steps in this process.