The dental implant process is generally considered in two stages: the placement of the implant followed by the restoration of the implant. The process generally involves the following steps:
- Preparing the Site for the Dental Implant
Depending on the clinical situation the jaw is made ready for an implant. If there is a damaged tooth in the site, it must be removed and free of infection. If the site has insufficient height or thickness of bone it will be grafted with bone minerals to increase the bone volume. A bone graft helps create a stronger base for your implant.
- Placing the Dental Implant
During the procedure to place the implant, your dentist will make an incision to open your gum to expose the bone. The incision can be done with a scalpel or a laser, either way, has similar result and healing. The dentist will create a small pilot hole in the bone and place the dental implant in the same pilot hole. Most often the procedure is sutured closed at this point and allowed to heal prior to attaching a tooth to the implant. If the area is in the front of the mouth your dentist can make you a temporary tooth to wear which is commonly called an Essix retainer, a flipper, or a Maryland bridge.You may be wondering how large a dental implant is. Cosmetic dental implants on average are between 8mm to 12mm in length which mimics the natural length of the roots of most teeth.
- Waiting on Bone Growth
Once the dentist places the implant post in your jawbone, the body begins a process called osseointegration. During osseointegration, your body essentially accepts the dental implant and attaches bone to it. The process takes a minimum of 8-12 weeks and creates a solid foundation for your future teeth.
- Placing the Abutment
Sometimes when a dentist places an implant, they cover the implant with the gums during osseointegration and sometimes they are able to leave an abutment exposed at the same time of placement. If your bone required your implant to be covered during osseointegration you will require a small secondary surgery where the dentist makes a small incision and attaches an abutment to the implant to allow the gums to shape around the abutment. The second procedure is a minor surgery performed in an outpatient setting, requiring only local anesthesia, and it can often be avoided in many cases. During the process of placing the abutment:
– The dentist will reopen your gum, exposing the implant.
– They’ll attach the abutment to the implant.
– They’ll close the gum tissue around the abutment, but not over it.
- Attaching the Artificial Tooth
After they place the abutment, you’ll have to wait a couple of weeks for your gums to heal before the dentist can attach the artificial tooth.