Dental Implant Procedure | How Does it Work?

woman getting teeth checked

Dental Implants Work

Dental implants are an increasingly popular way to replace missing or damaged teeth, and for good reason. They’re stronger than crowns or bridges, they fit better than dentures, and they look and perform like real teeth. Plus, dental implants can prevent jawbone deterioration, which is an unfortunate but natural consequence of missing teeth.

If you’re not familiar with dental implant surgery, it essentially involves inserting metal posts into the jawbone and fitting them with prosthetic teeth. Depending on the type of implant and condition of your jawbone, dental implants may require a few different steps. Read on for a brief guideline on how the surgery works.

First step: pre-surgery evaluation

The first step in any dental implant procedure is a comprehensive evaluation to ensure you’re a good candidate for the surgery. A dental specialist will take X-rays, make models of your teeth and mouth, and determine whether bone grafting is necessary. If your jawbone isn’t thick enough or strong enough to hold an implant, you may need to have a piece of bone from elsewhere in your body transplanted into your jaw. This might take several months to heal fully and provide enough new bone growth to proceed with implants.

Stage 1: Dental implant surgery

In the first stage of your surgery, any damaged teeth to be replaced will be removed. Next, the oral surgeon will insert the implant into the jawbone and cover it with gum tissue to allow time for osseointegration.

Stage 2: Osseointegration

Osseointegration is the process of your jawbone fusing with the surface of the implant to provide a solid base for the prosthetic tooth. This can take several months, during which you will have a gap in your teeth unless you request a temporary crown.

Stage 3: Installing the abutment

Once the osseointegration process is complete, the oral surgeon will reopen your gums to expose the dental implant and attach the post, which will eventually hold your new prosthetic tooth. After the abutment is attached to the implant, it requires another few weeks for the gum tissue to grow around the post before you’re ready for the next stage.

Stage 4: Installing the new tooth

Using several impressions of your mouth and remaining teeth, your dental specialist will make a realistic-looking artificial tooth that will blend perfectly into your smile. Additionally, you’ll have the option of a removable or fixed tooth. Removable teeth snap onto the abutment for daily cleaning and easy repair, while fixed teeth are permanently screwed or cemented onto the abutment.

Recovery from dental implant surgery

During each surgical stage of the dental implant process, you may experience swelling or bruising in your gums or face, pain at the implant site, or minor bleeding. Your oral surgeon will prescribe medication to manage the pain, and if symptoms persist, you might need antibiotics as well to fend off an infection.

Dental implant maintenance

Once your dental implant is completely healed, it’s important to maintain good oral hygiene, including daily brushing and flossing. For the best results, use a specially designed toothbrush for implants, such as an interdental brush that slides between teeth to clean hard-to-reach areas around the gums and metal posts. It’s also important to see your dentist for regular checkups and deep cleanings, to ensure your implants are healthy and functioning properly. Lastly, you should avoid chewing hard items such as ice and hard candy, which can damage or break your prosthetic tooth.

Looking for dental implants in San Diego?

If you have missing or damaged teeth, dental implants are a great way to restore your smile. At San Diego Dental Specialty Center, we offer dental implants and range of other dental specialty services. If you have more questions about dental implant surgery, give us a call at (619) 263-6683 or fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation today.