You’ve lost a tooth and now you need a dental implant. It’s not a procedure you’re familiar with—thankfully, you don’t lose teeth very often! Nevertheless, you’re probably a little intimidated by the concept. How, exactly, does your dentist implant a new tooth to replace the missing one?
Dental implants aren’t as complex as you might expect them to be. In fact, an experienced Marietta dentist like Dr. Caceres can install a dental implant over the course of just a few visits, each just an hour or two! The process is incremental, minimally invasive and pain-free. For patients who need dental implants, Dr. Caceres will walk you through everything one step at a time, so you have complete confidence along the way.
Want a step-by-step breakdown of exactly what you can expect? Here’s what’s involved in getting dental implants at your Marietta dentist.
First, do you need a jawbone graft?
Some patients need a jawbone graft before they can get a dental implant; others don’t. Your Marietta dentist will assess the health of your jawbone and determine whether a bone graft is necessary. They’ll recommend a bone graft if the jawbone is too soft or weak to support the dental implant. If this is the case, a jawbone graft will take place prior to the implant procedure.
How exactly does a jawbone graft work? Surgical dentists complete a bone graft in one of two ways. The preferred method is to remove a bone sample from elsewhere in the body and transplant it to the implant site. Another option is to insert a synthetic, bone-like material that supports new bone growth. Jawbone grafts require several months of healing before your dentist can proceed with the dental implant.
Most patients need a bone graft because the socket has been empty for too long. The longer you leave your missing tooth, the weaker the jawbone becomes at the site of the gap. Most patients who choose to get a dental implant soon after losing their tooth won’t need a bone graft.
Step 1: Installing the dental implant
At your first appointment, the dentist will secure the dental implant into the jawbone. Before the procedure begins, they’ll give you local anesthesia so you won’t feel a thing. Next, they’ll will prepare the implant site by hollowing out a pocket either in your natural jawbone or the bone graft.
Your dentist will finish up by securing the dental implant inside that pocket. The implant is a tiny rod of metal that’s threaded like a screw. These grooves allow the implant to stay firmly in place. The dental implant is a substitute for the root system that was part of the now-missing tooth.
Pause: your jaw needs time to heal
You’ll have to wait awhile before your dentist can top off the implant with an abutment and crown. Your jawbone just went through a lot and needs to heal properly first! During this recovery period, new bone growth will surround and adhere to your new dental implant, so it’s permanently fixed into the jawbone. Most dentists allow somewhere between five to seven months for the jawbone to fully recover.
Step 2: Placing the abutment
An abutment is a small piece that attaches to the top of the implant and is visible above the gum line. It serves as the base that will later hold the crown. If your dentist covered the implant with a temporary tooth, they’ll remove it and secure the abutment in place. Your gums will heal around the abutment for a few weeks before you can move on to the final procedure.
Step 3: Placing the permanent crown
The last procedure involves affixing the crown to the top of your abutment. The crown is a synthetic tooth that’s custom made for your mouth. Restorative dentists take great care to mold a crown with grooves that will line up perfectly with the surrounding teeth. Once the final procedure is complete, your dentist will send you home with tips on how to care for your dental implant. After months of waiting, you finally get to enjoy your new tooth!
Smile with a full set of pearly whites again!
While the process of drilling into your jawbone and cementing a permanent crown might sound a little intimidating, modern dentistry makes it quick, simple and pain-free. Best of all, when you’re working with a seasoned Marietta dentist like Dr. Caceres, you can expect results that look flawless! If you need dental implants to replace a missing tooth, don’t wait to schedule a consultation. Your perfect smile is only a few simple steps away.