Having your smile restored with dental implants for missing or severely damaged teeth is an excellent solution for long-term results that will bring back your confidence and health.
It’s normal, though, if you feel curious, nervous, or worried when planning for this surgery, especially if you don’t know what to expect exactly.
With this article, our dental team aims to share with you all the essential information for dental implant surgery so you can learn about the process and feel more prepared.
What Is a Dental Implant Surgery?
With dental implant surgery, an artificial tooth root (a small metal screw that is usually made from titanium) is placed and attached to your jawbone to replace the missing teeth. Then the abutment (a metal connector) is attached to your implant.
These metal screws will be the foundation to support and hold the “fake” tooth or teeth (crowns, bridges, or dentures) that will look like your natural teeth and fully restore your smile.
Usually, when mentioning dental implant surgery, most people don’t just refer to the screw placement but the entire process of restoring the missing teeth.
Getting your dental implants can be a more complex and time-consuming process, as it is performed in several steps, and there is not just one way of completing them due to several factors.
First of all, the procedure depends on your needs, specifically the condition of your oral health and jawbone and how many teeth are missing. Additionally, the type of implant and method used will also determine the timeline and required processes.
As mentioned before, dental implants are surgically placed on your bone, and one of the most crucial steps of the process requires time for healing. This is important as the jawbone around the implant heals and becomes a solid foundation, like our natural teeth.
But to understand the entire process, it is essential to analyse in depth every step that could be potentially needed. So, let’s review them one by one.
During the initial consultation and evaluation, your dentist or oral surgeon will conduct a complete and thorough examination of your health and needs.
Your history of any health problems and conditions or medications that could affect the procedure is needed, along with X-rays and oral examinations that will reveal the situation of your teeth, gums, and jawbone.
These steps are important so your dental team can decide how many teeth need restoration. Additionally, they should examine whether there is enough support for your implant by reviewing the condition of your jawbone. Only after these steps can they recommend the best approach for you.
The process could involve other specialists that will also discuss your surgical anaesthesia options or any other needs to prepare the complete schedule for your surgery.
You might also get a list of things you can follow or avoid during the preparation for the surgery, along with a plan for your aftercare.
Dental Implant Procedure
As we’ve discussed, dental implant surgery is conducted in several stages that can differ from patient to patient, depending on anyone’s needs.
Some initial steps before the surgery might be necessary to complete that will also determine the timeline of your restoration procedure.
The method that your doctor will use can also change the process and time. In our clinic, for example, we use computer-guided surgery, which is a minimally invasive approach to reduce the time between the surgery and the artificial tooth’s placement.
To cover everyone’s needs, we analysed all the potential steps so you can understand every stage separately.
If the problem that led you to your dentist’s chair doesn’t involve one or more missing teeth but severely damaged ones, then tooth extraction is necessary.
The first step is for your dentist to restore your health by removing your damaged teeth.
This step could also be performed along with your surgery, but this depends on your situation. For example, in some cases, a proper healing period after the extraction is needed to continue with the implantation.
During the initial evaluation, your doctor might observe a minor, mild or severe bone loss in the missing tooth area. This basically means that you don’t have enough support to get your implant.
However, in this case, dentistry offers a solution which is called bone grafting. You can learn more about bone loss and its treatment options in our article here.
With this surgical procedure, your dentist will use bone tissue from your own body or an artificial one that will attach it to your jaw and restore the affected area. This way, there will be enough support to secure your implant without the risk of a failed implantation.
Reconstructing the bone you’ve lost with bone grafting might take a few months before you can continue with the implant placement. This can take from 3 to 6 months, or even more, so the bone can have enough time to grow and heal properly.
However, bone grafting can be completed at the same time as your implant surgery if the condition of your jawbone doesn’t require a major restoration.
The surgery can be conducted under local or general anaesthesia, depending on your situation–you will already know which is best for you after the initial evaluation.
Typically, during implant surgery, the doctor will prep the area, make a small incision (cut) of the gums, reach the jawbone, place the implant and lastly, stitch up the gums.
The procedure can be different thought depending on the type of implant used. For example, when endosteal implants are used, the doctor will drill your bone to open holes to place the implant inside of your bone.
Subperiosteal implants require a less invasive procedure, as they are placed on or above the bone. The doctor will only drill below the gum tissue to create enough space for the implant, and no holes in the bone are required.
Choosing the right implant type depends on your situation, and your dental professional will ensure to recommend the most appropriate.
Bone Healing – Osseointegration
After placing the implant, it’s time to wait for proper healing.
The process can take several months so the bone can grow around the screw and become a solid foundation as a natural tooth root. Depending on the situation, this can take 2 to 6 months or even more.
During the healing process, you can also wear a temporary removable replacement to protect your implant, restore the appearance of your smile and eat or speak normally until the permanent is ready. Don’t forget to clean it properly!
Placing the Abutment
This minor surgery can be performed with local anaesthesia as a separate step when the healing and osseointegration processes are complete.
During this procedure, three main steps are followed. Your doctor will first make a small incision (cut) to your gums and expose the implant. Then the abutment will be placed into the implant, and lastly, the gums will be stitched up and left to heal. This usually takes 4 to 6 weeks.
However, the abutment placement can also happen along with the implant placement, and this step can be skipped. For example, in our clinic, both implant and abutment placements are performed at once.
Choosing and Placing the Artificial Teeth
To get your new artificial teeth, your dentist should first make new impressions once your gums have healed to get the correct measurements and start preparing them.
Depending on the number of teeth you’re restoring, you’ll get the best fit for every occasion.
For example, if you’re restoring one missing tooth, then a dental crown will be your option. Your dentist will prepare one that perfectly matches your natural teeth and attach it to your implant.
If you replace more than one tooth, you will get either custom-made bridges or dentures to fit your needs and implants.
Once your artificial teeth are prepared, and your jawbone is ready to support them, your new teeth will be placed. Typically this is performed in only one appointment.
Recovery After Surgery
Dental implant post-surgery discomfort, pain (around the implant area), swelling or bruising, and minor bleeding could be some of the symptoms someone might experience, especially when more conservative treatment is followed.
The computer-guided implant surgery we conduct at Swedish Dental offers our patients a painless recovery without any bruising or swelling.
In any case, any symptoms that worsen or worry you should not be left untreated or unchecked. Contact your dental professional as soon as possible to evaluate the situation, offer any treatments if needed, and prevent any complications that will risk your implant.
Don’t forget that we’re referring to dental surgery, and unfortunately, there are risks and always a possibility that complications can be involved. So please don’t neglect any symptoms you might have or your regular visits to the dentist.
To properly heal after your surgery, you should take any required medications, follow your dentist’s recommendations and instructions, practice good oral hygiene at home, and ensure to rest enough.
Getting Implant Surgery at Swedish Dental
Our experienced team is here to guide you through the entire process of getting your dental implants. From the initial consultation to the complete restoration, we’re here to answer any questions you may have and help you recover.
Our innovative technologies and methods aim to help our patients restore their smiles and oral health with less inconvenient and quicker processes based on their individual needs.
If you believe you are a good candidate and want to learn more about dental implants and our processes, don’t hesitate to contact us today for a consultation appointment!