What is the Dental Implant Procedure?

Dental Implants

Dental implants are simply artificial replacement teeth that get implanted into the jaw and mouth after someone has lost a tooth or teeth. Often used as people age, dental implants are typically made to feel, look, and function much the way natural teeth do.

What is the Dental Implant Procedure?

Often implant surgery is performed in various steps because the jawbone has to fully heal around the new implant before any more work can take place. The stages are typically as follows:

  • Removal of the damaged tooth if it has not already been lost or extracted
  • Prepping of the jawbone for surgery; which can include bone grafting
  • Implant insertion into the gum-line (once the jawbone has healed completely)
  • Abutment placement by surgeon (after the jawbone has healed completely again) : note the abutment is simply the piece that screws directly into an implant
  • Attachment of the artificial tooth to abutment

The full implant procedure process can take up to several month to enable complete healing of the jaw before the final implant installation.

How and Why is Bone Grafting used in Dental Implant Procedure?

As jawbones get prepped for surgery, the structure of a patient’s jaw and jawbone are carefully examined to make sure there is enough bone to offer a strong enough foundation for a dental implant. During chewing a lot of pressure is exerted on the jaw, so the bone has to be very strong to support and protect a dental implant. If extra bone is needed to help support the implant site the bone grafting process will be used. In this process a small piece of bone is taken from another area of the jawbone (or another part of the body) and transplanted into the part of the jaw where it is needed. Depending on the condition of the patient’s jaw it will be determined if the bone grafting can happen (which is ideal) at the same time as the implant placement. After the implant is able to be placed, osseointegration begins to happen, in which bone starts to grow and unite with the implant surface, becoming part of the natural and actual gum-line. This process can take anywhere from 3-9 months, during which a temporary denture can be used.

Abutment Placement

When osseointegration and healing have finalized an abutment can then be placed. The abutment is the small piece that connects the dental implant to the eventual artificial tooth. Abutment placement procedure is a minor outpatient treatment and usually only local anesthesia is needed.

Choosing Your Artificial Teeth

Once gums have healed around the abutment, impressions of the mouth (as well as the remaining teeth) are made. These impressions will be used in the construction of the new artificial teeth or tooth (or crown) to complete the dental implant. In this final part of the process you will have the choice of a fixed implant prosthesis or a removable implant prosthesis. The removable implants still function securely, but can be removed for cleaning and/or replacement if necessary. Removable implants are also less expensive. The fixed implants are permanently fixed to the abutment and are incredibly stable (which many people really appreciate) but cannot be easily removed for cleaning or replacement.

After surgery there is often natural discomfort, as with any surgery. But generally complications are few. Consult with your dentist or oral surgery for a complete overview if you are considering dental implants.

Dental Implants vs Dental Bridges