Implanting a dental implant is a surgical procedure involving three visits: one to prepare the site in your jawbone, one to put the implant post in your jaw, and a third visit for the final adjustment and bite. Implants are made of titanium with an organic coating that mimics healthy bone. The patient’s bone fuses with the implant when it’s placed, just as our bones grow over damaged or missing surfaces without even being aware of it. They are durable and will not corrode or deteriorate but they can loosen later in life due to tissue changes around them, so regular maintenance may be needed every few years.
What are Implants?
Implants are used to replace missing teeth and improve the patient’s appearance and ability to chew food after losing an entire tooth or several teeth. It also allows patients facing a difficult healing period due to gum disease or other problems, a much-needed solution for permanent dental restoration.
How does the surgery work?
The surgery to implant a dental implant is usually an inpatient procedure. The patient must refrain from eating or drinking anything for several hours before the procedure begins. Once the patient arrives at the office, he/she will be given general anesthesia and remain asleep throughout much of the process. A local anesthetic may be used for minor discomfort during the procedure. Your periodontist will numb your gum tissue with a local anesthetic and place the implant guideposts in your jawbone. After that, they will place the dental titanium post in the proper position and fit it tightly to both the gum and bone. This can take up to two hours, though it’s usually over fairly quickly.
While you’re under general anesthesia, we’ll remove as much of the old tooth that remains on your jaw as possible so it doesn’t interfere with your new dental implant. We’ll then cover the surface of your jawbone where you’ve had a tooth removed with a special gauze dressing that helps preserve its structure.
After the procedure, we’ll remove your dressings and wake you up. You’ll be able to eat right away, though it might take a couple of days for the area to heal.
What happens when it’s over?
Your in-office visit will conclude with a brief examination of your new implant, taking care to measure the distance between your jawbone and implant. We’ll then adjust any remaining parts of the implant to be as close together as they should form an attractive appearance and a stable fit. We may also offer you an exam and cleaning to remove any remaining bits of tooth or bone fragments that may have been lost during the procedure. If you’re concerned about the position of your dental implant, we can make minor adjustments while you’re under general anesthesia.
How often do dental implants have to be checked?
Once you have a completed dental implant, it will remain stable for many years, no matter how much your face changes. You’ll need to visit every few years to make minor adjustments to keep it securely in place, but none are required more often than once every 12 months or so.