How Does Dental Implant Surgery Work?

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Happy woman smiling looking in the mirror after dental checkup

Dental implants are small, screw-like posts, often made of titanium, that are surgically placed in the jaw bone under the gums. Once the implants are in place, they provide a solid foundation for artificial replacement teeth. Dental implant surgery is a multi-step process that can take several months to complete.

This blog post will discuss the different steps involved in this dental treatment and how the dental procedure is performed.

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How Does Dental Implant Surgery Work?

Here’s a summary of the dental implant process:

Implant Consultation

On your first visit, your implant dentist or oral surgeon will thoroughly examine your mouth and take X-rays and other imaging tests to determine if you are a good candidate for dental implants. If you are, your dentist will create a treatment plan tailored to your needs. Sometimes, you need more than one visit to complete the implant consultation process.

Implant Placement Surgery

After your consultation, the next step is to have surgery to place the implants. This is a minor outpatient procedure that is usually performed under local anaesthesia. Sedation anaesthesia may be used if a patient has a complex medical history or is anxious about the procedure.

The dental implant surgery usually takes one to two hours, and patients can usually go home the same day.

Below is the surgical process during the implant placement:

  • Your dentist will numb the area by giving you anaesthesia.
  • They will make small incisions in your gum tissue to expose the jawbone. They will drill holes into the jawbone where the implant will be placed. Then, they will put the implant into the drilled hole and secure it with screws. Your dentist is careful during this process to avoid damaging the nearby nerves or blood vessels.
  • After the implant is in place, your dentist will close the incisions with stitches. They may put a temporary tooth on the implant to protect it while it heals.
  • Before you go home, your dentist will give you prescriptions for pain management and instructions on how to care for your mouth and what to expect during the healing process.

Healing and Osseointegration

After dental implant surgery, you must give your mouth time to heal. This process is called osseointegration, and it can take anywhere from four to eight months for the implant to fuse with your jawbone. Some people can go back to work the next day after the procedure, but it’s essential to listen to your body and take time off for a day or two if necessary.

Here’s what to expect and tips on how to care for your mouth during your recovery time:

  • You will likely experience some swelling and bruising around your mouth for a few days, which is normal. You can use ice packs to help reduce the swelling.
  • You may also have mild pain and discomfort, gradually fading after a few days. You can take pain medications as needed.
  • Keep your mouth clean to avoid infection. You can brush your teeth carefully but avoid the surgical site.
  • A day after the procedure, you may start rinsing your mouth with salt water several times a day.
  • For the first few days, eat soft foods and avoid using the implant site when you chew. Examples of soft foods include yogurt, pudding, soup, eggs, and mashed potatoes. Hard and chewy foods can dislodge the implant before it has healed. After a few weeks, you can slowly resume your normal diet.
  • Avoid strenuous activity for the first few days to allow your body to heal.
  • You should also avoid smoking and drinking alcohol for at least two weeks to allow the area to heal properly. It’s important to note that smoking can impede your healing, so consider quitting consuming tobacco products and alcohol to speed up your recovery period and avoid dental implant failure.

Follow-Up Appointments

After you’ve had time to heal, you need to return for a follow-up appointment. Your dentist will check to see how well the implant has fused with your jawbone and whether you’re ready to move on to the next stage of treatment.

Placement of Abutment

The next phase of treatment involves the placement of an abutment which is a connector piece joining the prostheses to the implant. Your dentist will use local anesthesia to numb the implant site, incise the gums to expose the implant and attach the abutment over the implant.

Placement of Replacement Teeth

If everything looks good, your dentist will take impressions of your teeth and create a model of your bite. This will be used to make your new tooth or teeth. Your dentist will fabricate a dental crown if you’re missing a single tooth. If you’re missing multiple teeth, a dental bridge or denture will be fabricated.

You have to wait for at least two weeks until your new teeth are made. In the meantime, they may place a temporary crown on the implant post. When your new teeth are ready, you will return for another appointment to have them placed.

Your replacement or artificial teeth are designed to look like your real teeth, so you can have a natural-looking smile.

Caring for Your Tooth Implants

You should take care of your dental implants like your natural teeth to achieve their optimum lifespan. Here are some tips:

  • Brush twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush, and use interdental brushes or floss daily to clean between your teeth. Do not use toothpaste with abrasives to prevent scratching the implant.
  • Use an antibacterial mouthwash to help reduce plaque accumulation.
  • See your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. Avoid tobacco products, as they can lead to implant failure. If you have any concerns or problems with your implants, see your dentist immediately.
  • If you have a habit of grinding or clenching your teeth at night (bruxism), your dentist may recommend wearing a nightguard to protect your implants.

What Is the Ideal Way to Prepare for a Dental Implant Procedure?

Here are some helpful tips to prepare for your surgery:

  • If you smoke and drink, try to quit at least two weeks before your procedure.
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in vitamins A and C to boost your immune system.
  • Make sure to clean your teeth thoroughly before surgery.
  • Arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure, even if you will receive local anaesthesia.
  • Get plenty of rest a few days before your procedure.
  • If you’re going to be sedated, do not eat or drink anything for at least six hours before your surgery. If you need to take medications, sip only a small amount of water. This is to avoid aspiration vomit while you are unconscious.

Will You Be Put to Sleep During the Procedure?

As mentioned, if you have dental anxiety or your surgery is complex, you may be put to sleep using general anaesthesia or sedatives. General anaesthesia is uncommon but may be used in certain cases. You will be completely asleep and not feel any pain during your surgical procedure.

Sedation is a common way to help people relax during dental implants. There are different types of sedation, including:

  • Oral sedation
    Your dentist will give you a pill to be taken orally at least an hour before surgery. It will make you drowsy, but you will still be awake.
  • Inhalation sedation (nitrous oxide)
    This gas is inhaled through a mask over your nose. It will help you relax, but you will still be awake and conscious of what’s happening around you.
  • Intravenous (IV) sedation
    This is a liquid given through a small needle in your arm. It will help you relax and may make you drowsy. You may not remember much of the procedure, but you will still be aware of what’s going on.

Final Thoughts

Dental implants are a common type of dental restoration to replace missing or damaged teeth. They act as artificial roots for your replacement teeth, designed to look and feel like your natural teeth. They can last for more than two decades with proper care. However, it’s important to follow certain measures to achieve their maximum lifespan or avoid implant failure.

Contact us to book a consultation if you plan on getting this oral surgery. One of our clinic’s dentists will assess your oral health to see if you are a good candidate for the treatment.

Smiles in Currambine is a modern clinic equipped with state-of-the-art dental equipment to allow us to provide efficient dental implant procedures. The professional dentists at our clinic have years of experience performing this surgery. On your appointment, you can ask them about any concerns you have so that we can address them before your surgery.

Frequently Asked Questions

Dental implant cost varies depending on the number and type of implant chosen, the difficulty of the procedure, your dentist and location, whether you have insurance, and whether you need additional treatments, such as bone graft or sinus lift. Generally, it can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $6,000 per tooth. If additional treatments like bone grafting or a sinus lift are necessary, a single dental implant may cost up to $11,500.

This treatment can benefit you by restoring your teeth’s functions, allowing you to chew and speak properly. Additionally, dental implants can give you a boost in confidence by making you look good and feel better about yourself. Dental implants can replace missing teeth and prevent sunken facial features and premature aging by preventing bone loss and supporting your cheeks and lips. They can also encourage bone growth. As a whole, this procedure can improve your quality of life.

This varies from person to person, but it can take 3 to 8 months for your gum tissue to heal completely after the surgery. This is dependent on your oral hygiene, lifestyle, and habits.

The best time to get dental implants is after all your adult teeth have come in. This is usually around the age of 18. If you have lost a tooth or teeth due to an accident, disease, or injury, you may be able to get dental implants at any age.

Dr. Saket Rai

Dr Saket Rai

Dr. Saket Rai is a passionate dentist with over 15 years of experience in general dentistry. He specializes in dental implants, wisdom teeth removal, laser dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, and Digital Smile Design. With a Bachelor of Dental Surgery degree and a Masters in Forensic Odontology, he stays updated with the latest dental technology and techniques. Dr. Rai has extensive training in dental implants and believes in continuous professional development to provide the highest standard of care. Outside of dentistry, he enjoys spending time with his two boys and has interests in reading, documentaries, and cricket.