You might hear the word surgery and feel nervous, but we assure you that there’s nothing to be nervous about when it comes to dental implant surgery. Dental implants have become a very common and routine dental procedure supported by modern dental treatment techniques. Dental implants can be an option for those who want to avoid dentures or extensive bridgework, providing all the advantages of natural teeth. However, you may be curious about the details of the procedure and the actual process!
In today’s NK Family Dental blog, we’re walking you through what happens before, during and after dental implant surgery. Keep reading to learn more!
The Basics of Dental Implant Procedures
A dental implant procedure is considered outpatient surgery, which means the procedure will take place at your dentist’s office. The implant screw itself is made of titanium to act as an artificial tooth root that will permanently fuse with your supporting jawbone. Once the implant is in place, a crown will be placed on top and sealed to the implant. The result is a sturdy artificial tooth that looks, acts and feels very real!
Another material that can be used for dental implants is zirconia — a crystal material that is also biocompatible with the human body. It is a strong substance used for various dental procedures, including fillings and crowns. The advantage of zirconia is that it allows for the implant screw and crown to be constructed in one piece and embedded in a single procedure.
Dental implant surgery is often recommended by a dentist if you have lost a permanent tooth or if a tooth is severely damaged due to decay, gum disease, infection or injury. However, your personal oral condition and history will influence your dentist’s recommended course of action. For example, your dentist could recommend such options as dental bridges or dentures if they are better suited for your situation. Bone grafting could also be required before dental implant surgery if you have experienced significant jawbone deterioration in the space where a tooth has been absent for a long period of time.
The benefits of getting dental implants include improving your smile, being a long-lasting treatment option, renewing your self-esteem, giving you a stronger bite, and protecting your other teeth from damage and decay. You can read more about these benefits in our other blog post, “5 Benefits of Dental Implants.”
Risks of and Preparation for Dental Implants
Even the safest surgeries come with some risks, and dental implants are no exception. However, complications from dental implant surgery are rare, being typically minor complications and easily treatable when they do occur.
- Infection at the site of the implant
- Damage or injury to neighboring structures, such as blood vessels or nearby teeth
- Nerve damage, leading to potential pain, tingling or numbness in remaining natural teeth, gums, chin or lips
- Sinus issues, sometimes caused by dental implants in the upper jawbone that can irritate sinus cavities
Once again, these risks are rare, but it’s important to be aware of them before your dental implant procedure takes place. The benefits we mentioned above are equally as important to consider when facing tooth loss due to injury, disease or decay.
Aside from education on the risks and benefits of dental implant surgery, there are a few other preparation steps to take with your dentist:
- Receive a comprehensive oral exam, including dental X-rays. You might also have 3D images taken of your jaw and teeth, as well as real models made.
- Review your medical history with your dentist. This includes conditions and all medications, as this information can affect your eligibility of receiving dental implant surgery. You may be prescribed antibiotics before surgery to prevent infection if you have certain heart conditions or orthopedic implants.
- Discuss your full treatment plan with your dentist. Treatment details should include the current condition of your jawbone and remaining teeth, how they will be affected in the treatment process, the details of the dental implant surgery, and your long-term dental treatment. For the procedure itself, your dentist may provide a variety of different sedation and anesthesia options, which you will also discuss before your surgery.
During and After Dental Implant Surgery
Dental implant surgery is a multi-stage process, generally occurring over the period of a few months. The waiting time in between procedure appointments is necessary for proper jaw bone growth around the implant. A little bit of time can be cut down when some dental steps are able to be performed in one visit, depending on your condition, the type of dental implant procedure or the implant materials used by the dentist.
Before your dental implant surgery, you might need a bone graft for your jawbone. The jawbone is the supporting bone for your teeth, and a strong bone is essential for holding your teeth and dental implants in place. If your jawbone has some deterioration where a dental implant will go, your dentist will recommend a bone graft first. Bone grafts can be from using natural bone from elsewhere in your body or synthetic bone-like material to encourage new bone growth. Minor bone grafts can be done during the same procedure as your dental implant, but more significant bone grafts will require you to wait up to a few months after the grafting procedure to then receive dental implants.
Finally, the dental implant surgery can begin! These are the typical steps you can expect to go through:
- Anesthesia or Sedation — Before the surgery begins, you will receive a local anesthetic and also potentially IV sedation, which your dentist will discuss with you before the procedure. This step is to help avoid any discomfort or pain during the surgery.
- Implant Placement — To begin the dental implant surgery, your dentist will make an incision into your gum to expose the underlying jawbone. Then, holes will be drilled into the bone using small dental drills, followed by the placement of the metal implant post through the holes in the jawbone. The gum is then closed up so that the bone can grow around and fuse to the implant. A temporary partial denture may be placed on top of the implant site.
- Bone Growth — The bone growth process is known as osseointegration, and it’s the most time-consuming part of getting dental implants. Your jawbone can potentially take up to several months to grow and attach itself to the dental implant for strong and natural support, just like natural tooth roots.
- Adding the Abutment — Once your dentist confirms that enough bone growth has occurred and that the implant has securely fused with the jawbone, the final procedural step can be made in another outpatient appointment. Your dentist will reopen your gum and attach a piece known as an abutment to the dental implant (if unable to place the abutment during the first procedure), followed by closing the gum tissue around the implant and abutment. Then, you will need to wait about two weeks for your gums to heal.
- Dental Crown — Your dentist will take impressions of your mouth and teeth to create a natural-looking crown, which will attach to the abutment. You may have the choice between a removable or permanent crown.
Those are the basic steps of dental implant surgery. After every procedure, you may experience some mild discomfort as your mouth heals. Normal symptoms can include swollen gums or face, bruised gums or nearby skin, minor pain at the site of the implant and minor bleeding. You may be prescribed pain medications or antibiotics to take after surgery. Symptoms worsening or lasting longer than a few days could be serious, so contact your dentist immediately if this occurs.
You’ll also need to be easy on your mouth after surgery and eat soft foods. Oral stitches typically dissolve over time, but your dentist could need to remove them if they aren’t dissolving on their own.
The good news about recovery is that according to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, most dental implant patients experience less discomfort or pain than expected when recovering from surgery, and they are often able to return to work the following day.
In the long-term, you will need to visit your dental implant surgeon for regular checkups in addition to your regular dental checkups. Maintaining proper oral hygiene with dental implants as you would with your natural teeth will be crucial to their success and your long-term oral health. If the bone does not properly grow around the implant, the dental implant can be removed and the bone cleaned, and you can try implant surgery again in a few months once your bone has healed.
Dental Implants Near Bucktown, Chicago
Are you in need of dental implants near Bucktown, Logan Square, Wicker Park or Humboldt Park in Chicago, IL? NK Family Dental is here for you! Our dental implant specialist, Dr. Amir Danesh, is a board-certified periodontist and has extensive education and experience performing successful dental implants.
NK Family Dental is pleased to offer All-On-Four Implants and Teeth-in-a-Day procedures. For patients who need to replace an entire top or bottom row of teeth, all-on-four implants provide outstanding function using just four strategically placed implants. Once installed, an entire row of new teeth can be applied directly to the implants, keeping them steady and secure at all times.
Our Teeth-in-a-Day procedure allows you to receive dental implants and a custom restoration in just one day. While many other types of dental implants require multiple operations and lengthy healing periods, the Teeth-in-a-Day procedure allows for a crown, bridge or denture to be installed immediately.
We understand that a main concern you may have is dental surgery cost, which is why we accept all major PPO plans for dental insurance and also offer our in-house dental plan. Please see our financing page for more information.
We look forward to treating you soon and improving your smile!