What to Expect When You’re Getting Dental Implants
Today, more and more people are getting dental implants. Not only do dental implants offer a long-term solution for missing teeth, but they also provide natural results, leaving you with a flawless smile.
Dental implants can fix your smile and replace any missing teeth — and 98 percent of dental implant surgeries are successful, WebMD¹ reports. If you’re wondering what getting implants entails, here’s a step-by-step guide so you know what to expect.
Step 1: An Initial Consultation
The first step of the dental implants process is meeting with your oral surgeon for an initial consultation. During this consultation, your surgeon will take an X-ray of your month and jaw. The x-ray will help determine any problems present with your teeth, like impacted teeth or bone loss. This ensures that your surgeon is prepared for the procedure and can effectively handle any unique situations that might affect your implants.
After examining the x-rays, your oral surgeon will develop a plan designed just for you. Together, you and your surgeon will discuss the plan for your dental implants and any other oral care or procedures needed to perfect your smile.
Step 2: Molds and Impressions
To make sure your implants are correctly placed, a mold – or impression – will be made of your teeth as they stand right now. This step is simple. A liquid substance will be placed onto a U-shaped impression tray, and that tray will be placed onto your teeth. You’ll bite down for just a few seconds while the impression substance sets.
Once it’s removed from your mouth, the mold will harden completely to form an impression of your upper or lower jaw. A mold or impression will let your surgeon create implants that match your teeth in size, shape, and fit along your jawline.
Step 3: Pre-Implant Preparation
To prepare your jaw for surgery and implant placement, you may need to simply sit back and wait.
However, if you’re getting implants in order to replace a cracked or otherwise problematic tooth, you may need to have an extraction done beforehand. This is commonly done if your dental implants will be replacing rotten, cracked, or infected teeth.
The area around the tooth meant to be extracted will be numbed with local anesthetic. Then, your oral surgeon will begin the extraction. The tooth or teeth will be gently loosened until the surgeon can fully extract it from your mouth.
In most cases you’ll need just a few weeks or months to heal from the extraction before getting your implant and finishing the process for your perfect smile.
Step 4: Implants Are Placed
Now, you’re ready for your permanent implants! Typically, dental implant surgery is done under local or general anesthesia, meaning you don’t need to be fully awake during the procedure.
Before the procedure, you’ll need to follow your surgeon’s instructions and avoid eating and drinking beforehand if you’ll be placed under any kind of anesthesia. You’ll also need to bring someone with you who can help you get home safely.
Once you’re comfortably sedated, the oral surgeon will start the procedure. They’ll place each dental implant metal post or frame that you need, and ensure your jaw is prepared for the caps, or permanent teeth, that will replace what’s currently missing.
You’ll still have a gap where your tooth is missing when you wake up, but know that’s only temporary. When your crown, or realistic-looking replacement tooth, is ready, it’ll be placed over that post and close the gap you see.
Step 5: Final Stages – Placing the Abutment
You’ll experience tenderness for several months after the procedure. Your jawbone needs time to heal around the implant and it needs to unite with the surface of the dental implant before you’re 100 percent back to normal.
And your jaw must be fully healed before moving on to the final stage: filling in your missing tooth with an abutment and crown. This is the step where your oral surgeon will attach your new, permanent teeth to the implants themselves.
This step, like surgery, is usually done under local anesthesia so you’re as comfortable as possible. To place the abutment, your surgeon will attach the abutment to the implant. You may need some time to heal before your implants look perfect, but once the anesthesia wears off, you’ll likely notice your smile is already in better shape.
After the Procedure
It’s important that you take several days off in order to recover after your dental implants are complete. It’s common to experience swelling in gums and face, bruising of skin around the implant area, pain at the implant site, and minor bleeds. As your body heals and adjusts to the implant, you’ll begin to return to normal – complete with a permanent, perfect-looking tooth replacement.
If you’ve noticed that the swelling, discomfort, or bleeding doesn’t subside within a few days, make sure to contact your oral surgeon.
Most dental implants are successful and patients adjust with ease. However, you can ensure your dental implant recovery is as effortless as can be by following these tips:
- Watch what you eat. It’s best to avoid hard and crunchy foods right after surgery.
- Rest and recover. It’s important to take a few days off work to fully recover from your dental implant surgery. Rest is very important, especially on the first day after your surgery – plan to stay in bed.
- Keep the implant site clean. To prevent infections, your surgeon will likely recommend tips for keeping the surgery site clean. You can do a saltwater rinse, along with other actions, to help the implant site heal.
Once the dental implant area is completed healed, it’s important to take all the steps you can to ensure your implant last as long as it can. Stick to a healthy oral care routine with habits including brushing twice per day, flossing, and visiting your dentist regularly for checkups. With these in practice, you’ll keep your smile perfect for years to come.