139 Dental Implants – What is the Dental Implant Procedure? (2 of 5)
A dental implant is an artificial tooth which is secured into the jaw. Implants are an increasingly popular option for patients who are missing one or more teeth. Dental implants are specially designed to appear and function just like the natural teeth. Because the implant also stimulates the jaw bone, it also helps to maintain the patient’s bone structure and facial appearance. Implants also help to prevent the adjacent teeth from moving.
Dental implants have three main components which include a metal post, a connecting abutment, and a crown or artificial tooth. The implant device is placed directly below the gumline. This helps to maintain the structure of the remaining teeth and offers an incredibly strong based for daily functions such as eating and talking.
The first step of dental implant surgery begins with placing a metal, screw-like post in the jaw where the tooth was previously located. After a period of healing, the artificial tooth is attached to the implant post with the abutment. Due to the natural function and appearance of implants, they are an excellent alternative to dentures or bridges.
Based on various factors such as the type of implant being used and health of the bone, multiple steps may be required to complete the implant procedure. For the first step of the process, the implant needs to fuse to the jawbone. This can take a few weeks or up to a few months to occur. Implants are typically made from titanium or zirconium because these materials are durable and does not easily decay.
Risks & Complications
As with any surgical procedure, there are some possible risks associated with dental implants. Although it is not common, there is a risk of infection. Other complications include potential damage to the surrounding teeth, nerve damage to adjacent teeth, and damage to the lips or gums. When discussing dental implant surgery, the dental professional will review the potential risks and complications.
Prior to the implant procedure, the dentist will complete a thorough evaluation of the mouth and gums. The evaluation typically includes obtaining X-rays and models of the teeth to ensure the dental implants fit perfectly.
In most cases, implant surgery is completed in multiple phases. During the first step of the process, the implant needs to completely fuse to the jawbone and heal. A brief summary of the entire dental implant process is outlined below:
1. When the damaged tooth is still present, the tooth is removed
2. The jawbone is prepared for surgery and bone grafting is performed as needed
3. The implant is then placed into the gum
4. Once the jaw is completely healed and the implant fuses to the bone, an abutment is attached and the crown or artificial tooth is placed on top of the abutment
Once the implant is placed and has healed, the abutment is then installed. The abutment is a piece which connects the dental implant to the artificial tooth. This procedure is relatively minor and typically completed using a local anesthetic.
Once the gums have healed around the implant, additional impressions will be taken in order to create the artificial tooth or crown. The two types of artificial teeth which are typically used for an implant include a removable implant prosthesis and a fixed implant prosthesis.