What to expect during a dental implant
If you need a dental implant, it’s normal to be nervous. However, dental implants are common, safe and can greatly improve your smile and more. This article covers everything you need to know about what to expect before, during, and after a dental implant procedure.
- Dental implants are a multi-step process that usually take months to complete.
- Dental implants may require multiple surgeries. It’s important to follow care instructions before and after.
- Dental implants can greatly improve a patient’s smile and more.
Reasons to have a dental implant
The most common reason to have a dental implant is the loss of a permanent tooth due to disease or injury. The loss of a tooth can result in negative side effects, including:
- Trouble talking
- Difficulty chewing
- Low self-confidence
Talking to your dentist before moving forward with a dental implant is important. They will help you determine if dental implants are a good choice for you or if another option, such as a dental bridge, would be a better fit.
What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is normally a two-part procedure. The first part is the surgical placement of the dental implant into the jaw bone where the tooth is missing. After healing and the bone growing around the implant, a crown or bridge can be connected to that dental implant. The dental implant serves a similar role as the root of a natural tooth.
What to expect during a dental implant
A dental implant procedure is completed in two or more appointments. A comprehensive exam is part of the initial consultation, which includes taking x-rays of your jaw to develop a plan for the implant or implants.
After a plan has been developed and it has been determined that you are healthy enough for the surgery, a date will be set.
Before a dental implant:
You will receive instructions to follow to make sure the surgery is safe and successful. It’s important to follow the directions you are given ahead of the surgery. Be sure to talk about:
- Food and water limitations on the day of the surgery
- Medications you should take before and after the surgery
- Any pre-operation lifestyle changes that need to occur
- Any other questions or concerns you have
What to expect during the first dental implant surgery
Before the surgery begins, you will be given anesthesia or sedation that prevents you from feeling pain or discomfort. Depending on which type of medication you receive, you may not be able to drive after the surgery, so it’s important to plan ahead if you’ll need a driver. Once the medication has taken effect, the surgery begins.
The first step is to open the gums to expose the jawbone. When the bone is exposed, small holes will be drilled where metal dental implants will be placed. These metal implants will act as the “root” of your new artificial tooth or teeth. It’s important to note that after your first surgery, you will still have a gap in your teeth.
After the initial surgery, it’s important to let the jawbone grow around the metal implants in a process called osseointegration. This process ensures that the new “root” of the tooth has a solid foundation before adding the artificial tooth or teeth. This process usually takes a few months.
What to expect during the second dental implant surgery
After the jawbone fully supports the metal implants, it’s time to add the next piece of the implant.
Like in the first surgery, anesthesia will be used to prevent pain. The gums will be reopened to expose the metal implants. Then, the abutment, or the piece that the artificial tooth will eventually attach to, is screwed onto the implants. Then the gum tissue will be closed around the abutment.
After the abutment has been inserted, the artificial teeth are ready to be placed. Sometimes this can take place immediately, while other times it takes around two weeks for the gum tissue to heal before the final piece is added.
What to expect during the final step
When the gum tissue has fully healed, it’s time to place the artificial teeth and finally close the gap.
This process starts by taking impressions of the teeth surrounding the gap. The impressions help create an artificial tooth, called a crown, that looks natural. Next, your dental team will help you decide whether a removable or fixed crown is the best option for you.
Quick fact: Removable crowns are easy to insert and remove from the abutment for fast repairs and daily cleaning. Fixed crowns are permanently attached to the abutment and cannot be removed from the mouth.
After the dental crown has been placed, your dental implant procedure is complete!
After a dental implant surgery
Recovering from a dental implant surgery generally takes a week or two. During this time, it’s normal to experience the following symptoms:
- Minor bleeding
- Swelling around the implant site
- Swelling of the face
- Pain at the implant site
- Bruising in the mouth
If you develop symptoms such as a fever or blisters around the implant site, contact your dental team immediately, as these could be signs of infection.
You will often be prescribed pain medications and antibiotics to take after the surgery. These medications will help control any discomfort and prevent infection. You will also likely be put on a soft food diet until you are fully healed and stitches are removed or dissolved.
Benefits of dental implants
Although receiving dental implants can be a process, the result can greatly improve a patient’s quality of life. Dental implants help:
- Improve speech
- Make chewing easier
- Increase self-confidence
- Fix cosmetic deformations of the mouth and jaw
- Prevent surrounding teeth from becoming loose
Nearly 90 percent of patients with dental implants are highly satisfied with them, even after 10 years of use.
Dental implants require a lot of time and patience. However, once the procedure is complete, the positive effect on your quality of life can be significant.
For more information about common dental procedures click here.