Dental implant procedure

The process of obtaining dental implants is a surgical treatment time-consuming and expensive. A patient considering this surgery should gather as much information as possible about the dental makeover procedure and about the dentist who will be performing this type of dental work. This procedure outline will introduce dental implants and common risks and benefits of the procedure, and can provide guidance as to more detailed questions to ask to us.

01. What are the most common benefits of dental implants?
02. What will happen at the initial consultation?
03. How are dental implant procedures performed?
04. How long does the surgery take?
05. Where will the procedure be performed?
06. How much pain is there?
07. What can I expect after dental implants?
08. What is the recovery period like?
09. What is the long-term outcome with dental implants?
10. Other important information
11. Risks and Limitations:
12. Questions to ask your dentist:
13. Be sure to:

What are the most common benefits of dental implants ?

Replacing a lost tooth is vital to maintaining the overall health and function of the surrounding teeth. It helps avoid tooth migration and loss of structure. It is necessary to avoid loss of bone from the jaw in that area. Dental implants are an effective means of counteracting these problems. Dental implants are also very strong and provide a feel as close to a natural tooth as can be currently achieved. Further, implants reduce the impact of the lost tooth on surrounding teeth, as traditional bridge structures often require reduction (filing down) of the two adjacent teeth to hold the bridge in place with crowns. Implanting avoids such alterations to the surrounding teeth when replacing a lost tooth.

Dental implants, when replacing dentures, provide even more benefits. Dentures are notorious for slipping at the worst possible moments. Poorly fitting dentures can even affect diet, restricting food selections to easily chewed foods. Implants eliminate the possibility of slipping or pinching, and allow food of almost all types to be eaten (other than extremely hard foods such as chewing on ice, pits, or popcorn kernels, which is very bad for the implants and not good for natural teeth, either). In short, dental implants are the closest way to surgically restore a natural tooth to its original condition.
Back to top...

What will happen at the initial consultation ?

At the first appointment, the dentist will examine your teeth and determine whether implants are the best solution to your dental problems. Often, x-rays are necessary to discover the state of the jawbone, particularly if the teeth have been lost for some time. This information can be used to determine if implants would work for you and, if so, what particular type of implant would be best for your situation.
Back to top...

How are dental implant procedures performed ?

Under local anesthesia, the first step for many implant procedures is the exposure of the bone where the implant is to be placed. This is followed by placement of the implant onto the exposed jawbone. Implants that are placed on the bone are called endosteal implants and are made of titanium, or a titanium alloy, because this metal does not adversely interact with biological tissue. After placement of the implant, a cover screw is put in and the wound is closed with stitches and allowed to heal. In general, placements in the lower jaw need to heal about three months, while placements in the upper jaw need to heal about six months.

After healing, in a second surgical procedure, the implant is uncovered, the cover screw is removed and a healing abutment or a temporary crown is placed in the implant. Temporary dental crowns are generally used for aesthetic reasons when the implant is in a place that is visible. Both healing abutments and temporary crowns allow the tissue around the implant to be trained to grow around the final prosthetics tooth. After about two months, the soft tissue will be healed to receive the final prosthetic tooth.

Impressions are taken to make a custom abutment that takes into account the shape of the neck of the implant. The prosthetic tooth is sometimes attached to a gold cylinder that can be screwed into the abutment or directly cemented onto the abutment. This multi-stage process, where the two surgical procedures are separated by a lengthy healing time, has proven to provide excellent stability in the final implant. Single step surgical implants are available, but skipping the healing step often loses some stability of the final implant.
Back to top...

How long does the surgery take ?

Surgery time will vary greatly depending on the number of dental implants. For each of the two visits, one implant, going very smoothly, will take a little over an hour. Time goes up proportionally from there.
Back to top...

Where will the procedure be performed?

The dental implant procedure generally occurs in the office of a dentist, oral surgeon, or periodontist.
Back to top...

How much pain is there?

Local anesthesia avoids the pain that would be involved in the surgical procedures during implantation and uncovering of the implant fixture. Most patients state that dental implant pain provides less discomfort than a tooth extraction.
Back to top...

What can I expect after dental implants?

Following surgery, there will probably be bleeding, controlled by biting down on some gauze. Swelling may be controlled using an ice pack. Gums are generally sore after both surgeries for seven to 10 days. You may be given antibiotics to take during the period immediately following dental implant surgery.
Back to top...

What is the recovery period like?

Many people have very mild soreness, bleeding, or swelling, which can be treated with first aid and over the counter medicines, and can return to work the day after surgery.

In between the first and second surgery, there is a recovery period of three to six months while the implants associate with the bone. This growth of the bones around the titanium posts may induce a few weeks of soreness. This discomfort can usually be controlled using over the counter medicine.

It is very important during your recovery to practice scrupulous oral hygiene. Poor care, resulting in chronic swelling of gum tissue, is a major contributor to implant failure. You may need to see your dentist about two times a year to keep track of the implant health.
Back to top...

What is the long-term outcome with dental implants?

For most people, dental implants last between 15 and 25 years. They may last significantly longer, but implantation is a new procedure and data has not been gathered. Between about five percent and 10 percent of implants fail, but they often can be replaced with another implant attempt..
Back to top...

Other important information

A further consideration as to the suitability of implants is the patient's general health, especially whether or not the patient smokes. Although the exact cause of the connection is not known, dentists hypothesize that the nicotine in the cigarettes, known to shut down blood vessels, interferes with the healing of the dental implants. Whatever the cause, heavy smokers are known to have a higher failure rate for implants than those who do not smoke. Other chronic conditions that affect healing, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and immunosuppressive conditions, can also increase the chance of implant rejection.
Back to top...

Risks and Limitations:

The greatest risk following the surgical procedures is that the dental implant will fail. For implants placed within the bone, most failures occur within the first year and then occur at a rate of less than one percent per year thereafter. Location of the implant can also predict the risk of failure. Implants in the back upper jaw fail most often, followed by the front upper jaw, and the back lower jaw. The most success seen is in implants of the front lower jaw. Overall, the success rate for all implants runs from 92 to 95 percent. Most failed implants can be replaced with a second attempt.
Back to top...

Questions to ask your dentist:

- What are the expected benefits of the dental implants procedure and what are the chances of me experiencing these benefits?
- What are the expected risks of this procedure and what are the chances of me suffering from these risks?
- What is your estimated cost of dental implants?
- Is there an alternative treatment that I should consider as well?
- How long will the procedure take and how many appointments are necessary?
- Will you repeat or correct procedures if it does not meet agreed upon goals? And if the procedure must be repeated/corrected, will I be charged again?
- What should I expect after the procedure, in terms of soreness, what to watch for, and any limitations?
- Do you offer patient financing?
Back to top...

Be sure to:

- Tell us about any allergies you have (to foods, drugs, environmental elements).
- Tell us about all medications you are taking (both prescription and non-prescription).
- Carefully follow any instructions we give you.
Back to top...