There are a number of steps involved in receiving dental implants. There are also a number of different types of dental implant procedures, including single tooth dental implants, all-on -four-dental-implants and dental implants as part of full mouth reconstruction.
For simplicity lets begin with a damaged tooth due to infection or failed root canal.
Firstly the tooth is removed. If there is not enough bone to place a dental implant then a bone graft may be undertaken. Normally there is time left to heal but some dentists will do an immediate placement of a dental implant if there is sufficient bone existing and no bone loss with the patient being in good health.
Before placement of the implant takes place x-rays are taken and a CT scan.
During the procedure anesthesia is given. An incision is performed on the patients gum where the implant will be placed. A small hole will be made in the bone where the implants will be placed. Most dentists will screw in manually the implant itself. On top of the implant goes the abutment and on top of the abutment goes the crown also known as the restoration.
Time frame between getting the actual implant placed and having the restoration placed is normally 5 months if bone grafting is needed but could be as long as a year to allow bone to build up. A standard rule of thumb in dentistry is to wait 4 or 5 months for the lower jaw and 6 to 8 months for the upper.
Once the implant has been placed a cap is added and the tissue is stitched over. The bone and the implant eventually become fused in a process called osseointegration.
Once the dentist has determined that the bone and implant are fused, he will cut the gum and expose the implant. A healing cap is placed. This assists in the healing process for the surrounding gum tissue. After 2 -4 weeks the healing cap is removed and the abutment is screwed into the implant. The abutment supports the crown.
When the crown is placed the dentist will make sure that the color is the same as surrounding teeth and will also test the 'bite' making adjustments to ensure that the crown does not get damaged.
The process of receiving an implant may be performed by an oral surgeon, a periodontist or a dentist that is proficient and has undergone specialized training in implant dentistry.
There are more complicated ways in which a patient can receive dental implant such as, multiple tooth dental implants, full mouth reconstruction or all-on-4 dental implants.
Patients must do their research thoroughly when looking for a surgeon to place implants.
The above explanation is one scenario of many possible scenarios. It must be noted that this procedure for other patients may be more complicated.
M. Mark Liechtung, DMD