A dental implant procedure replaces a missing tooth with an artificial one. In addition to having a high success rate, a dental implant will feel just like a regular tooth.
Read about everything you can expect from this popular procedure with this guide from Flossy.
Who Needs a Dental Implant Procedure?
Anyone that loses a tooth may wish to replace it with a dental implant. While there are other options for mending a lost tooth—such as a dental bridge—a dental implant has many advantages that make it a more desirable option.
There are many reasons why a person may lose a tooth. Although we most commonly associate it with aging, almost three-quarters of young adults have at least one missing tooth. There are many reasons why someone may lose a tooth (at any age). Some of the most common reasons include:
- Physical Trauma: Unfortunately, our teeth are not indestructible. As such, common accidents such as walking into a wall, playing rough contact sports, and even opening a package with your teeth can cause it to break. Even if your tooth doesn’t fall out immediately, your dentist may still recommend removing it if the damage is irreparable.
- Tooth Decay: This is perhaps the most easily preventable cause of tooth loss. However, many people still fail to properly brush and floss their teeth, which leads to small openings in the tooth known as cavities—a prime way for bacteria to enter and lead to tooth loss. In addition, many people don’t see their dentist for regular check-ups, which can make many tooth decays go unnoticed.
- Gum Disease: Gum disease is closely linked to tooth decay. When the bacteria from your teeth invade your gums, they can cause swelling, pain, and inflammation. If it progresses for too long, it can destroy the gum tissue that holds your teeth in place and cause certain teeth to fall out.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are structures that replace a missing tooth. Essentially, an implant functions as a type of “screw” that is inserted into the jawbone. Once it is inserted, your dentist will place an artificial tooth (a “crown) on top of it.
A dental implant feels and functions just like a regular tooth. As such, it will allow you to do everything you were able to do with your regular teeth—albeit with a bit more precaution this time around.
Because a dental implant involves surgery, you will likely need to take off a day or two for the procedure. In addition, you will likely need to take painkillers and antibiotics for at least several days after the procedure.
Dental implants are an incredibly popular procedure despite the discomfort you may feel because they feel natural, comfortable, and have all the functions of a regular tooth. In addition, they have an incredibly high success rate, which means that you’re very unlikely to experience complications after the procedure.
What Are the Different Types of Dental Implants?
Your dentist may consider using two types of dental implants: endosteal and subperiosteal. Which type of implant you receive will be determined after consulting with your dentist. Here are some of the differences between the two types of implants:
- Endosteal implant: This is the most common type of implant. Essentially, it is a small screw that is made of titanium. It is inserted directly into the jawbone after an incision is made in the gums, and a space into which to insert the implant is created in the jawbone. Over the course of several months, your jawbone will grow into the implant through a process called osseointegration.
- Subperiosteal implant: Some people may not be candidates for an endosteal implant due to excessive bone loss. In this case, a subperiosteal implant procedure may be performed. This type of implant is placed on top of the jawbone using a metal frame (which does not get drilled into the jawbone). Through osseointegration, this type of implant will eventually integrate with the jawbone.
What To Expect During a Dental Implant Procedure?
A dental implant procedure is usually performed over two days. In addition, your dentist might recommend some care tips before and after the procedure. Here is what you should expect throughout the entire process:
Before the Procedure
Before getting a dental implant, you will meet with your dentist for an initial consultation. You’ll receive a comprehensive examination that includes X-rays in order to ensure that you are a candidate for a dental implant. If you’re a candidate, then your dentist will schedule an appointment for dental implant surgery.
Although I.V. sedation is not required, some people may prefer to be sedated during the entire procedure. In this case, your dentist will recommend that someone picks you up after the procedure to escort you home.
In addition, your dentist may recommend not eating the night before or the morning of your procedure. Ideally, your stomach should be empty during sedation. You should also avoid drinking alcohol or taking sedative medications the night before the procedure.
If you do not require sedation, you will only need to receive local anesthesia on the day of your procedure. In this case, you may be able to eat a light meal several hours before the procedure. In addition, you would be able to drive or take public transport; as such, you will not need to have somebody pick you up to take you home.
Finally, your dentist may prescribe an antibiotic that you will take several days before the procedure. This is to prevent the chances of your body rejecting the implant—which is known as implant failure. That said, the chances of this occurring are very low and may only concern those with a compromised immune system.
During the Procedure
The procedure will likely be split up into two parts. During the first part of the procedure, your dentist will insert the implant into the jawbone and send you home to heal for several months. Afterward, they will place a crown on top of the implant.
When you are getting the implant inserted, you will usually have local anesthesia injected directly into the missing tooth site. For many people, this can be quite painful. Thankfully, it only lasts several seconds and is the most uncomfortable part of the procedure. You should not feel anything in the region where you received the injection.
Next, your dentist will make an incision in your gums and drill a small canal in it. This will form the space into which the implant will be inserted. Once the implant is placed, your dentist will close the gums over it to speed up healing. The implant will fuse with the jawline during the healing stage—a process called osseointegration. This will ensure that the implant stays firmly in the jawbone.
After you heal (which should take several months), you will come back for the second part of the procedure, which involves putting the crown over the implant. Your dentist will place a connecting piece—called an abutment—over the implant.
Then, they will take impressions of your teeth and create a crown, which will be placed over the implant. Once that is done, you can use your new tooth as your regular teeth.
After the Procedure
Immediately after the procedure, the side of your mouth where you had the procedure done may be completely numb. Make sure to avoid eating on this side to avoid accidentally biting your cheek. Fortunately, the anesthesia should subside within just a few hours.
After the anesthesia wears off, you may feel some pain and tenderness. Your dentist will likely prescribe you painkillers to help with any discomfort. In addition, you will be prescribed a course of antibiotics to ensure that your body doesn’t reject the implant while you heal.
It might take several days to help after the implant was inserted. You may experience pain, bleeding, and other discomforts for several days after the procedure. However, that should subside fairly quickly.
There’s a lot you can do to speed up healing. This includes eating healthy, avoiding smoking, and following a consistent oral hygiene routine. In addition, it’s a good idea to avoid eating on the side where you had the implant inserted for at least a few days.
How Long Do Dental Implants Last?
A dental implant procedure can be slightly time-intensive. Luckily, your dental implant should last you for the rest of your life. This is, of course, if you don’t experience any complications. However, the risks are very low—which is one of the main reasons dental implants are so popular. In the case of complications, your dentist can easily remove the implant and even replace it with a new one.
In addition, the dental implant will feel just like a normal tooth. Once the implant bonds with the surrounding bone and gum tissue, you won’t be able to feel it. Plus, the crown that is placed on top will allow you to do anything that you can do with a regular tooth.
The one thing to keep in mind is that the crown on top of the implant may not last a lifetime. With normal wear and tear, you might need to go back to your dentist to replace it. However, your dental crown can last you decades with good oral hygiene practices.
Getting a Dental Implant With Flossy
If you lost a tooth due to physical trauma, tooth decay, or gum disease, then you can easily replace it with a dental implant. Schedule a consultation with one of Flossy’s dentists today to see if you are a candidate for this procedure—at a fraction of the cost of most dentists.