The Dental Implant Procedure
By Dr. Anasinski
If you have decided that dental implants may be a good option for you, the first step is a consultation at our office. During this visit, we will determine whether or not you are a good candidate for a dental implant.
A good implant candidate typically has the following:
- Is in good over-all health
- Their gums are healthy with no existing periodontal disease
- Their jawbone has enough density to hold the implant
- They are committed to good oral hygiene
- They get regular dental checkups
If you have all of these characteristics but are unsure of your bone density because you lost your tooth (or teeth) several years ago, implants may still be a viable option. In some cases, we may recommend bone grafting where an incision is made in your gum, a bone substitute product is inserted in the area that needs to be rebuilt, it is then covered with a special healing cover and your gum is sutured. After several months, the bone substitute product is absorbed and replaced with natural bone. When the healing process is complete, the implant procedure can be done.
A dental implant which replaces one tooth has three parts:
- A titanium screw that is imbedded in your jawbone
- An abutment which protrudes above the gum line to hold the artificial tooth
- The crown which looks, feels and functions like a normal tooth
If dental implants are being used to secure a bridge, partial dentures or full dentures, these structures are secured to the abutment as well. Depending on the bridge or partial, more than one implant may be needed to secure the prosthesis and when a full denture is involved, four or more implants are usually required.
To begin the implant process, an incision is made in your gum tissue to expose the bone where the implant will be placed, and a small hole is drilled into your bone at the place where the screw will be inserted. This procedure is done in our office with local anesthetic. Once the hole is drilled, it is carefully widened to the appropriate size for holding the implant screw. The screw is then placed into your jawbone and over time, the bone will grow into the grooves of the screw. An abutment which pokes up through the gum tissue is placed at the time that the screw is implanted and a temporary tooth that will allow you to eat and chew normally will be placed on the abutment.
When the titanium screw has been placed in your bone, a process called osseointegration begins where the implant actually becomes a part of your jawbone. This process can take from three to six months depending on your individual health and bone quality and density. When your bone and gum tissue are healed and the osseointegration has taken place, the temporary tooth will be replaced by a permanent ceramic crown that will last for your lifetime.
If you are replacing one tooth, the crown will be secured onto the abutment and will look, feel and function just like a normal tooth. If implants are being used to secure bridges, partials or dentures, the framework for the dental prosthesis will be designed with attachments that will fit securely onto the implant. Full and partial dentures that are implant-supported can be easily removed for cleaning.
While there is some discomfort as your jawbone heals, implant surgery in the process, is not painful. And the long-term benefits are many: good oral health, comfort, improved appearance, the integrity of your facial structure is not compromised from missing teeth and implanted teeth or implant-supported bridges, partials or dentures look, feel and function like natural teeth.