Dental implant or tooth implant is a procedure done to replace tooth roots with screw-like metal posts and replace missing or damaged teeth with artificial teeth designed to look and function like the natural ones.
Nowadays, tooth implant surgery is considered a great alternative to bridgework or dentures. How the procedure is done will depend on several factors including the condition of the patient’s jawbone as well as the type of implant used.
While tooth implant offers many enticing benefits, one of its notable benefits is it offers solid support for new teeth. However, since the process will require that the bone will heal tightly around the implant, the entire process may take several months.
If you’re a candidate for tooth implant, it is important that you know more than just the basics like how much the tooth implant cost is or how the procedure is done. You also need to know other basics like how to prepare for the procedure and what to expect, among others.
Preparing for the Procedure
The tooth implant planning process may require the involvement of several specialists including doctors who specialise in the conditions of the face, jaw, and mouth (oral and maxillofacial surgeons), a dentist that specialises in the treatment of structures that support the teeth (periodontist), and a dentist who fits and designs artificial teeth (prosthodontist).
Since tooth implants will sometimes require one or more procedures, a thorough evaluation needs to be done to prepare for the procedure. Typically, the preparation process will include:
Thorough dental exam. At this stage, dental 3D images and X-rays may be taken as well as models for the teeth and jaw.
Review of the medical history. As a general rule of thumb, consider it best to inform your dentist about medications you are currently taking (this includes over-the-counter supplements and drugs) and medical conditions you have. Patients with orthopaedic implants or certain heart conditions may be given antibiotics before the surgery is done to help ward off any infections.
Treatment plan. Tailored to the patient’s situation, the plan will take into consideration key factors like the number of teeth to be replaced as well as the condition of the remaining teeth and jaw.
To manage pain, anaesthesia will be given. Depending on what is best for the patient, the dentist will either give local or general anaesthesia. You will also be given instructions on what to eat and drink prior to surgery, depending on the type of anaesthesia you will be given. If you will be given general anaesthesia, make sure you have someone who can take you home after the procedure. You are also expected to rest for the remainder of the day.
What to Expect
Tooth implant surgery is typically an outpatient surgery done in stages, with healing time in between procedures. The process involves multiple steps, including:
- Removal of damaged tooth
- Jawbone grafting (when needed)
- Placement of the implant
- Bone growth and healing
- Placement of the abutment
- Placement of artificial tooth
The whole process can take several months from start to finish. Time will be devoted to healing as well as waiting for the new bone in the jaw to grow.