Most of us understand that dental implants are a realistic replacement tooth option for people missing one or more of their natural teeth.
Dental implants don’t just look natural; they function like real teeth too. They allow you to eat and drink normally while cleaning your implants the same way you clean and care for your natural teeth.
But when it comes to understanding what the dental implant procedure involves, there are often many questions. We answer some of the most commonly asked ones below.
How are dental implants done? What are the steps?
First, let’s explore what dental implants consist of.
The actual dental implant is a titanium screw-like post embedded into your jaw. Prosthetic teeth – generally made up of a crown, bridge or denture, are attached to this post. Dental implants can replace one, many or all of your teeth.
Because dental implants effectively become part of your bone structure, the dental implant procedure consists of multiple steps, generally spaced over a few months.
While the dental implant procedure is lengthy and all surgical procedures have risks, many patients think getting dental implants are worth it. They are the longest-lasting, most durable and most natural artificial tooth option available.
Getting dental implants – The steps involved
Step 1: You will need a comprehensive examination with a dentist or dental surgeon to assess whether you are a candidate for dental implants. Some people cannot have dental implants because of the condition of their mouth or jaw or surgery risks.
Step 2: There is usually some preparatory dental work required before the dental implant procedure takes place. This can be as simple as removing an existing tooth or as complex as requiring a sinus surgery or bone graft. Any additional work needed depends on several factors, including how you lost your tooth/teeth, your bone health, facial structure and more. Your dentist will explain any additional procedures required to you during the consultation process.
Step 3: The dental implant procedure is a surgical operation during which your dentist will insert the implant into your jawbone. If your dental clinic uses digital technology to place your implants, the procedure could take less than half an hour.
Healing time is hard to predict because it’s not just a matter of waiting until the wound heals or your mouth “feels” better. The healing period can take several months as your bone and gum tissue fuses to the implant, and the implant becomes strong enough to house your new tooth.
Step 4: There is an attachment known as an “abutment”, which needs to be fitted to your dental implants once the bone and gum healing process is over. This is the device that connects your dental implants to your prosthetic tooth.
Step 5: Artificial tooth placement. Once the implant and abutment are fully stabilised, it’s time to fit the artificial crown.
How are dental implants done? What are the risks?
It is essential to be aware that there are risks associated with any surgical or invasive procedure. Your surgeon will outline these, along with any other considerations you should be aware of based on your health before commencing your dental implant procedure.
Some of the more common risks associated with dental implants include:
- Infection, which generally occurs in the gums. Gums may appear red or swollen, bleed or excrete pus – similar to the signs of infection in other wounds. In rare cases, the infection may be in the bones.
- Damage to surrounding teeth, roots or blood vessels.
- Nerve damage when the implant is placed in the jaw.
- Sinus complications if your implant is going into your upper jaw.
The good news is that reputable and experienced dentists can usually identify if you are at greater risk of complications than usual and plan for this in your dental implant procedure.
There are also things you can do to reduce the risks of complications after having dental implants, including:
- Choose an experienced dentist who is thoroughly trained and skilled in performing the dental implant procedure.
- Following the dentist’s instructions carefully, for example, ensuring you take the entire course if they prescribe antibiotics.
- Avoid touching the treatment site as much as possible. It’s normal to want to run your tongue around the area of your dental implant, but this can put you at increased risk of irritation and infection.
- Maintain a good oral health routine by following recommendations such as mouth wash or warm salt rinses. Even though you may experience mild discomfort brushing your teeth after the procedure, an excellent oral health routine is usually your best defence at keeping bacteria away.
- Make sure you keep any follow-up appointments and discuss any concerns with your dentist, no matter how minor they may seem.
- Early intervention is always better when it comes to complications. Ensure you notify your dentist immediately if you are experiencing pain or swelling, especially if it doesn’t subside within the first few days after the procedure. Dentists would rather you err on the side of caution, so don’t feel like you need to “tough it out” if something doesn’t feel right.
While dental implants can take longer than other restorative dentistry options, most patients feel they are worth it. Especially when they end up with such realistic, natural-looking, feeling and functioning prosthetic teeth to replace their natural teeth.
Curious to know more about how are dental implants done? Our experienced team will happily talk you through the dental implant procedure at your complimentary dental implants consultation. Book yours today.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.