Despite the many improvements in modern dental care and hygiene, millions of people still suffer from tooth loss, usually caused by untreated decay, gum disease, or injury. Formerly, the only solutions for a missing tooth or teeth were bridges and dentures. But now, dental implants can effectively replace that missing tooth and, if properly cared for, can last the rest of the patient’s life.
At New Smiles, we help people regain a great looking, functional smile with implants. The process may take some time depending on your condition, but is absolutely worth it in the end. Here’s how a dental implant is placed.
What happens during an implant procedure?
The first step is developing a treatment plan just for you. Your tooth may already be missing, or may be so damaged that it needs to be extracted. We’ll also ascertain if you have sufficient bone volume to hold an implant. If a patient has been missing a tooth or teeth for a period of time, the jawbone can deteriorate and lose bone mass. If you lack bone mass to sufficiently support the implant, bone grafting will be required.
This entire implant procedure, which can take from three months to a year depending on your condition, has the following stages:
- The severely decayed or damaged tooth is removed.
- The jawbone is prepared, which may involve bone grafting. Bone grafts heal at different rates, usually requiring from three to nine months.
- Once the bone graft has healed, the dentist places a titanium post into the bone at the location of the missing tooth.
- This post is allowed to be become integrate into the jawbone as it heals, taking from 3 to 6 months.
- Once the implanted post has incorporated into the jawbone, a small connector post, called an abutment, is attached to it. The new tooth will attach to this connector post.
- Impressions of your teeth are made and the new tooth is constructed. This artificial tooth is called a crown. Once completed, the crown is attached to the abutment and the process is complete.
When is bone grafting required?
If during the initial examination the patient is deemed to have insufficient bone volume to anchor an implant, the dentist will recommend bone grafting to increase the bone volume. Without it, the jawbone may not be able to, first, have enough depth to adequately anchor the implant, and second, to withstand the force exerted by chewing. A bone graft procedure may be essential to create a solid base for the dental implant.
How does bone grafting work?
The dentist will first prepare the area to receive the graft. Then an allograft, zenograft or autograft of particulate or block bone is prepared for the site. This material is then placed into the area of the jawbone needing more volume and overlayed with a collagen membrane or secured in place with one or two tiny screws. Anywhere from four to nine months later, depending on your body’s bone-building prowess, the jawbone will have accepted the graft and grown more bone around it. It is now ready to support the implant.
What can I expect after surgery?
Surprisingly, dental implant surgery is not painful. In fact, many people think the tooth extraction is more tender than the implant procedure. There will be some soreness, but that can usually be addressed with over-the-counter pain relievers.
Caring for your dental implants is the same as your natural teeth: brushing, flossing, and getting twice yearly dental check-ups.
Schedule A Consultation
If you are interested in Oral Surgery, and would like to see if you are a good candidate, call (503) 925-9595 to schedule a consultation at our office in Sherwood, OR.