A dental implant is a restorative dentistry option that can help patients replace a missing tooth (or teeth) with one that are similar to natural teeth — looking, feeling, and even performing the same way as your real, natural teeth. If you are a good candidate for dental implants, here is what you need to know about the procedure and the recovery process.
From the ages of 20-64, you are likely to experience three or more missing or decayed teeth. If you are missing a tooth or two, it’s important to consider your replacement options. The American Dental Association explains on their MouthHealthy blog that having a large space between your teeth, like that which comes along with a missing tooth, the way you eat and talk will be affected. Even if the space isn’t noticeable when you smile, missing a tooth can be causing harm for your smile. In some cases, it can even cause remaining teeth to shift and bone loss.
One of the best options for replacing missing teeth is dental implants. They are natural looking, strong, and stay put. For many patients, the dental implant is even stronger than what their original tooth was. Since dental implants are realistic and durable, once they are in place you won’t have to worry about them for years, as they can last upwards of 20 years if you take good care of your teeth. Benefits of dental implants include:
The procedure includes placing a titanium post into the jawbone. This will secure the tooth in your mouth. After this, a prosthetic tooth will be put into the post where it will stay. Depending on your own oral health, the dental post may be done in one appointment and the dental crown (the tooth) will be placed in a separate appointment to allow the post to securely set in the jawbone. Mayo Clinic provides an overview on the different aspects of the procedure, and what you can expect recovery to be like:
A few parts of the implant procedure will require a certain amount of recovery time. If your jawbone isn’t able to support the implant, you may need bone grafting before you can have the full procedure done. The bone graft will help rebuild your jaw bone. For some patients, it may take several months for the graft to grow enough new bone to support the dental implant. However, some patients might only require a minor bone graft. This can happen at the same time as the implant surgery. This is all dependent on your individual jawbone.
During the implant surgery, your gums will be cut open to expose the bone. From there, holes are drilled into the bone where the implant metal will be placed. This post will serve as the tooth root, which is why it’s implanted deep into the bone. After this, you will still have a whole where you are missing the tooth. Sometimes, a temporary denture can be placed for appearance.
Once the implant is placed into the jawbone, you will then have to wait for bone growth. During this process, the jawbone will grow into the dental implant, which can take several months. When it unites with your jawbone, it becomes a solid base for your new artificial tooth, acting like roots do for your natural teeth.
In this phase, you might need further surgery to place the abutment, which is the piece that your artificial tooth will eventually attach to. The minor surgery is typically an outpatient treatment. After the abutment is placed, your gums will have to heal for two weeks before your artificial tooth can be placed.
Once your gums are healed from the abutment, you will then get impressions made of your mouth. These impressions will be used to make the crown, which is your artificial tooth. The crown cannot be put in until the jaw is strong enough to support a new tooth.
Once the implant surgery is complete, whether at once or in multiple stages, Mayo Clinic explains that there are typical discomforts to expect. Those include:
Aftercare will also include needing to take pain medication and/or antibiotics, as well as sticking to a soft-food diet for the time being so your mouth can properly heal.
If you want to learn more about dental implants and recovery, make an appointment with Dr. Robert Berry and Mountain Aire Dentistry today. If implants are a good option for you, our team will carefully assess your condition and concerns to get you on the road to a full, beautiful smile.