Dental implants restore natural function and aesthetics. Whether you are missing one, multiple, or all of your teeth, dental implants can provide the foundation to smile and eat with confidence.
Implants consist of three components:
- the implant body, which replaces the tooth root
- an abutment, which acts as a connector between the implant and the crown
- the crown, which is the visible and functional part of the tooth
The time needed get an implant depends on the health of your teeth, how many teeth are involved, the teeth that will be replaced, and if you will need to have teeth pulled before the implant is placed. The entire process can take a half year or longer.
Sometimes, tooth removal and implant placement can be performed simultaneously, saving about three months and minimizing the number of surgical procedures.
The Dental Implant Process: Before the Surgery
We will review your health history and any habits which could affect the success of your implants — such as smoking — so you are fully informed about the risks and benefits.
We will then provide instructions for before the operation such as:
- Using an anti-bacterial mouthwash
- Taking an antibiotic for a day or two prior to surgery
- Eating a hearty breakfast on Surgery Day, unless you have requested IV sedation, in which case you will fast starting at midnight on the day of your surgery
- Arranging for someone to transport you to and from our office if you elect oral or IV sedation
The Dental Implant Process: The surgery
The initial surgery is removing the involved tooth or teeth. Frequently bone grafting is performed at this time to prepare the site(s) for upcoming implant placement, and to preserve bone volume.
Here’s what happens in this step:
- The area where the implant will go will be numbed, usually with local anesthesia, or you will be prepared for oral or IV sedation.
- A gum incision is made to expose the bone where the implant will go.
- A specialized drill will create a place for the implant within the bone.
Next, the implant is placed, either at the same time or a later date`:
- The implant is screwed in with a hand tool or the drill used in the above step.
- Once the implant is placed, the abutment is screwed in and will remain during healing.
- The gums are put back together and, if needed, the cut is stitched closed.
The Dental Implant Process: Pain and Recovery
As with any surgery, there can be some discomfort. Local anesthesia and/or IV or oral sedation are used to eliminate any discomfort. As implant technologies have become more sophisticated, the pain involved has been greatly reduced.
Today, computer-assisted planning results in more efficient implant placement, less patient discomfort, a reduced or eliminated need for bone grafting, and an easier recovery.
After surgery, patients typically have some bruising and swelling. Discomfort is addressed with a common painkiller like ibuprofen, hydrocodone, or codeine.
Most patients report they were much more comfortable following the procedure than anticipated. With proper sedation and adherence to home instructions, many patients return to work and regular activities the following day.
The process: Getting the crown
During the next few months after surgery, the implant becomes securely attached to the bone.
Meanwhile, Dr. Puckett will coordinate the crown (restorative phase) with your dentist. Our office now uses digital 3-D impressions to make the crown. This 3-D impression is sent to the lab and to your dentist for final confirmation before the crown is made.
A seamless experience
Dental implants demand a team approach. We coordinate the plan with your dentist and maintain communication throughout the process.
Our implant coordinator makes the implant experience seamless. Each patient receives a personalized treatment plan with written diagram of the steps involved. Your dentist will receive a copy of the diagram and the clinical notes from the initial consultation. As the process proceeds, your dentist receives written updates at each step.
Maintaining the Dental Implant
This is part of the beauty of implants: they are as easy to care for as your natural teeth! Most of our patients even forget they have implants after healing is complete. All you do is brush, floss, and visit your dentist for regular cleanings and check-ups.