Before receiving dental implant surgery, patients will want to go in for a full consultation. It is highly recommended that you see an implant specialist for the consultation, as they will be the most highly qualified. Your dentist may specialize in implants, be sure to ask before making the appointment. During the consultation, you will be examined to be sure dental implants are the right choice for you, and some x-rays or prep steps may be made.
This step is not necessary for most patients. In order to place the implants, a healthy jawbone is necessary to fully integrate the implant. If the patient has lost many teeth and their jawbone is less healthy than it should be, a bone graft may be required. During the bone graft process, a specialized professional will take bone from another part of the body and add it to the jawbone. Other bone alternatives could also be used.
If the patient has any non-performing or compromised teeth, they will need to be pulled before the procedure. A regular dentist, or the doctor performing the surgery can do this.
Once you are ready to have your implants placed, the first step will most likely be sedation. Once sedated or given intravenous medication, local anesthetic will be placed in the areas your jaw will receive implants. After assuring that the patient is comfortable, the dentist will then make a small incision into the gum tissue, just enough to reveal the bone where the implants will be placed.
The doctor will then use specialized tools to make what is called a “socket,” to hold the implant and assure that the bone is never damaged. Once the socket is in place, the implants can be inserted to the gum. The doctor will then secure the incision if necessary.
The implants will remain beneath the gums for 3 to 6 months (temporary tooth replacements could be used during this period) to allow the jawbone to bond with the new implants. This process is called osseointegration.
Once the osseointegration has taken place, you will go back in to the doctor to have the implants uncovered. They will then attach special extensions, called abutments for your new teeth to be place on. After the abutments are in place, there will be a few weeks of healing time.
Once the abutments are healed, your new teeth will be placed in. Depending on how many teeth a patient is having replaced, this could take more than one fitting, and could take several weeks or months. When the process is complete, you will have a healthy beautiful smile to show off.