As the top choice among dentists and patients alike to replace missing teeth, dental implants showcase a wide range of benefits over other forms of artificial tooth replacement. However, there is often a lot of misconceptions associated with the dental implant procedure, since it is the only form of tooth replacement option that primarily incorporates a surgical procedure. Knowing what to expect in dental implant surgery can help patients make an informed decision about the procedure.
Steps in a Dental Implant Procedure-
The first step in a dental implant procedure is the oral and general health evaluation. The dental surgeon will usually advise multiple X-rays, blood tests, and occasionally even a CT scan. The patient receiving the dental implant needs to be in good health with adequate bone capacity and quality for the procedure to be successful. Medical conditions like diabetes, heart conditions, bone diseases, etc. are taken into consideration before moving ahead with the dental implant procedure.
Once the patient has been declared fit for receiving dental implants, they can be scheduled for the surgical procedure. Most dental implant surgeries are an outpatient procedure and are done under local anesthesia. Occasionally, the surgery may be done in a hospital under general anesthesia, depending on the patient’s general and dental health conditions.
If there are any decayed or damaged teeth, the dentist will first perform the extraction of such teeth. The surgery begins with small intraoral incisions made in the region the dental implant has to be placed in. The dentist drills the dental implant into the jawbone and then sutures the incisions. If the bone quality is not adequate, the dental surgeon may do a bone graft surgery to enhance the quality and quantity of bone. Either natural bone is taken from other regions in the body or synthetic graft can be used to augment the jawbone. The dentist may choose to allow the bone to heal first after the graft surgery or perform the dental implant placement and the bone graft at the same time.
Once the dental implant surgery is complete, the wound is then allowed to heal completely before moving on to the next step. The patient is sent home with a temporary denture until healing is complete.
It is essential to strictly follow the dental surgeon’s post-operative instructions with regards to taking care of the surgical site. Like with any other form of surgery, there may be some amount of pain and discomfort after the dental implant procedure, which can be abated with the help of painkillers. Some amount of swelling, bruising, and bleeding is also normal. Good oral hygiene needs to be maintained to avoid infections at the surgical site. The dentist will also recommend an appropriate diet to be consumed according to the different healing stages of the surgical wound.
If any of the post-operative symptoms like pain, swelling, or bleeding persist for an extended period of time or get worse, it is advised to seek medical attention immediately.
Placement of Abutment:
Once the wound has healed completely, and the dental implant has integrated into the jawbone, which is a necessary step for the success of the dental implant, the abutment can be screwed onto the implant. The abutment serves as the connector between the dental implant and the dental crown. A minor outpatient procedure, the placement of the abutment, requires the wound to be incised again, which is done under local anesthesia. The dental implant is exposed, the abutment is screwed onto it, and the wound is sutured again and left to heal for another couple of weeks.
Delivery of Dental Crown/Denture:
The dentist makes impressions of the regions that require placement of the denture or dental crowns. Once the prosthetic teeth have been fabricated at the dental laboratory, they can be delivered to the patient. Depending on the patient’s choice, the artificial teeth may be fixed or removable in nature. Although dental implants are usually the top choice among patients who prefer a fixed and permanent solution to their missing teeth.
How Long Does a Dental Implant Procedure Take?
Dental implants are a significant investment in terms of both money and time. The surgical procedure can take a few to several hours, based on the number of dental implants to be placed in the jawbone. The most prolonged duration in the entire procedure is spent on the process of osseointegration, wherein the dental implant fuses into the surrounding jawbone and imparts stability to the entire restoration. This is the most crucial part of the dental implant procedure and is the deciding factor in the success or failure of the dental implant. The process of osseointegration can take anywhere from 3-6 months. Once the dental implant has successfully integrated into the jawbone, it behaves like the roots of the tooth, and the dental crown can then be screwed onto the implant.