What does dental implant procedure placement involve? This common dental procedure includes four (sometimes five) separate steps: tooth removal, implant/anchor placement, abutment placement, and prosthetic tooth placement. Some patients may also need a jawbone grafting step. If this is your first experience with implants, take a look at what to expect from each part of the process.
The Tooth Removal
Have you already lost the tooth you want to replace with the implant? If your answer to this question is "yes," you can skip this step. But if the damaged or infected tooth is still in your mouth, the dentist will need to extract it.
This part of the procedure requires the use of a local anesthetic to numb your mouth. Dental sedation is an option for patients who are anxious about the extraction. Follow the dentist's instructions for post-extraction care. You may need to ice your cheek, change gauze (over the extraction site), and rest in the first few hours after the procedure. Your dentist may also recommend that you don't smoke, don't use a straw to drink, or avoid chewy/sticky foods for the next 24 hours.
The Jaw Bone Grafting
Patients without substantial jaw bone material may need to have a grafting procedure before the implant placement. The dentist may use your own natural bone or a synthetic graft to build up the jawline before implant surgery. This pre-procedure process creates a base for the implant and will help to anchor the restoration.
Major bone grafting is not an immediate repair and won't form a solid base for the implant right away. It could take months for the new bone to grow. This means you will need to wait until the grafted area can support the implant's anchor.
The Implant Placement
The dentist will place the implant when your jaw is ready. The implant takes the place of the original tooth's natural root. To securely place the implant, the dentist will need to surgically cut the gum. The metal post will go beneath the visible surface of the gumline and into the jawbone. Gradually the bone will heal around the post, holding it in place.
The Abutment Placement
An abutment is a connector that fits between the implant post and the prosthetic tooth (crown). As the jawbone fuses with the post, it stabilizes the implant. When this happens, the dentist can move to the next step and place the abutment. Your gums will need to heal before the dentist adds the prosthetic tooth.
The Prosthetic Placement
This is the final step of the dental implant process. Your dentist will choose a prosthetic tooth, or crown, that matches your existing smile. If you have a fixed implant (versus a removable option), the dentist will need to screw or cement the tooth onto the abutment. This creates a permanent restoration that looks, feels, and acts like a real tooth.
For more information on a dental implant procedure, contact your dentist today.