If you need a dental implant procedure, it’s normal to be nervous. However, dental implant procedures are perfectly safe and can greatly improve a patient’s quality of life. In this article, we will cover 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 takes months to complete
- Dental implants require surgeries. It’s important to follow care instructions before and after the procedure.
- Dental implants can greatly improve a patient’s quality of life.
Reasons to have a dental implant procedure
The most common reason to have a dental implant procedure is permanent tooth loss due to disease or injury. Permanent tooth loss can result in negative side effects including:
- Trouble talking
- Difficulties chewing
- Low self-confidence
- Deformation of the face or jaw
It’s important to talk to your dentist before moving forward with a dental implant procedure. Your dentist will help you determine if dental implants are a good choice for you or if other options, such as a dental crown, will be a better fit. Your dentist can also help refer you to an oral surgeon.
What to expect during a dental implant procedure
A dental implant procedure is usually completed in two or more surgeries. During the initial consultation, an oral surgeon will do a comprehensive exam and take x-rays of your jaw to develop a plan for the implant or implants.
After your oral surgeon has developed a plan and determined that you are healthy enough for the surgery, a date will be set for the procedure.
Before a dental implant:
Before a dental implant procedure, steps will need to be taken to make sure the surgery is safe and successful. It’s important to follow directions that your oral surgeon gives you ahead of the surgery. Be sure to talk with them about:
- Food and water limitations on the day of the surgery
- Medications that should be taken 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
On the day of your surgery, it’s important that someone drives you to and from the appointment. You will not be able to drive once the surgery is finished. Before the dental implant procedure, your oral surgeon will give you anesthesia or sedation that minimizes or prevents pain or discomfort. Once the medication has taken effect, the surgery begins.
The first step of the dental implant procedure is to cut the gums open to expose the jawbone. When the bone is exposed, the oral surgeon will use special tools to drill small holes where metal dental implants will be placed. These metal implants will act as the “root” of your new artificial tooth or teeth. After the metal implants are placed the first step of the procedure is done. It’s important to note that you will still have a gap in your teeth after this surgery because no artificial teeth are installed.
After the initial surgery, it’s important to let the jawbone grow around the metal implants in a process called osseointegration. This 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 metal implants are fully supported by the jawbone it’s time to add the next piece of the implant.
Like the first surgery, anesthesia is used to address pain. The oral surgeon will then reopen the gums and expose the metal implants. Then, the abutment, or the piece that the artificial tooth will eventually attach to, is screwed onto the implants. The surgeon will then close the gum tissue around the abutment.
Once the abutment is inserted it will generally take around two weeks for the gum tissue to heal. Then it’s time to add the final piece of the dental implant.
What to expect during the final dental implant procedure
When the gum tissue has fully healed it’s time to place the artificial teeth and finally close the gap.
This process starts with your dental specialist taking impressions of the teeth surrounding the gap. This helps them create an artificial tooth, called a crown, that looks natural. Your dental team will help you decide whether a removable or fixed crown is the best option for you.
Quick fact: Removable crowns can be easily inserted and removed from the abutment for quick 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 procedure
Recovering from a dental implant procedure 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, it’s important to contact the oral surgeon immediately as these could be signs of infection.
Often your oral surgeon will prescribe pain medications and antibiotics that need to be taken after the surgery. These will help control any discomfort and prevent infection. You will also likely be put on a soft food diet until the implant site is fully healed and the stitches are removed or dissolved.
Benefits of dental implants
Although the process of receiving dental implants can be tedious, 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 who have dental implants are highly satisfied with them, even after 10 years of use.
To conclude, 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.