What are dental implants?

Dental implants take the place of missing teeth. These replacements are comprised of three parts:

  • Crown: The tooth-like part of the implant, usually made of ceramic material, designed to look like a natural tooth.
  • Connector: Sometimes called an “abutment,” the connector is used to secure the tooth-like crown of the implant to its base, and is often hexagonal or octagonal in shape.
  • Base: A titanium screw that fuses with natural bone to provide a safe, stable base.

Basically, the point of dental implant surgery is to replace missing or damaged teeth and roots with artificial teeth and roots. Implants can be a more comfortable alternative to the traditional full-mouth dentures.

Dental implants are the closest you can get to healthy, natural teeth. They allow you to live the way you want to – confidently eating, smiling, laughing, talking, kissing and enjoying all of your everyday activities without worrying about your teeth.

Who Are Good Candidates For Dental Implant Surgery?

The best type of candidate for an implant surgery is someone who has the following attributes:

  • Missing one or more teeth
  • Damaged tooth
  • Good oral hygiene
  • Sufficient bone in the jaw to support implants
  • Overall decent physical health

These are things you can discuss with your dentist to see if implant surgery is the right option for you.

If you’re missing or have damaged one or more teeth, you could be a candidate for dental implants.

Dental implant procedure stages and timeline

How long does a dental implant procedure take in all its stages? Let’s break it down step-by-step.

♦ Initial Consultation

The very first thing you will need to do is meet with your dental implant dentist for an initial consultation. During this appointment, they will do a comprehensive dental exam, take an X-ray of your mouth, and then take impressions of  your teeth.

After this, your dentist will talk with you about the recommended treatment plan, going over the steps of the procedure, the timeframe for everything, and what to do during recovery. You may also discuss whether or not you need a bone graft.

During this consultation, you’ll schedule the first stage of the procedure.

♦ Bone Grafting And Teeth Removal

If you’ve had a bone graft, it can take 4-12 months before your jaw is ready for the first implant. This time allows your bone to heal properly.

♦ Implant Placement

Next, you’ll be ready for getting the implant, which is the metal screw that goes into your bone and acts as the anchor for the whole prosthesis. This procedure can take 1-2 hours.

After you’ve had the implant placed in your jawbone, the healing process can take up to five months for the lower jaw and up to seven months for the upper jaw. Once your mouth is healed, you’ll be ready for the next stage.

♦ Placing The Healing Collar And/Or Temporary Crown

After the implants have fused with your jawbone, you’re ready for the next stage, which is getting a healing collar and possibly a temporary crown.

The dentist will place the healing collar (also called a healing cap) on the head of the implant — this helps guide the gum tissue in the proper way to heal. It’s a round piece of metal that keeps the gums away from the implant. This collar will stay on for 10-14 days.

After this time, in which your tissue should have healed, the dentist will remove it and move onto the next step.

♦ Placing The Abutment

Next comes the abutment, which is the part that screws into the implant and will support the crown. Once the abutment is placed, your dentist will take another impression of the abutment for each replacement tooth.

Then you’ll get a temporary crown while your tissues continue to heal and form around the artificial tooth as with your natural teeth. You will wear the temporary crown for four to six weeks. During this time, your permanent crown will be made.

♦ Placing The Permanent Crown

Now for the final stage of the procedures — placing the crown. Crowns, which are the tooth-looking part, can either be screwed into the abutment or cemented in place. The latter option typically looks better and more natural as there is no screw hole, which can be visible at certain angles.

As far as crowns go, there are two main types you and your dentist can choose.

Removable Crown

Removable artificial teeth are white with pink plastic material to simulate a natural tooth and the surrounding gum tissue. It’s typically mounted on a metal frame, which snaps into the abutment. This means you can remove it for daily cleaning.

Fixed Crown

With a fixed crown, the artificial tooth either screws into the abutment or is cemented on, and this is permanent. You will not be able to remove a fixed crown for cleaning. Most of the time, this type of crown is much stronger and stable than a removable crown.

The dental implant procedure happens over multiple office visits with weeks or months in between each, depending on what your dentist needs to do.

(source: Authority Dental)