If you have one or several missing teeth, it can significantly affect your self-esteem. It can also make it hard to eat your favorite foods. Instead of dentures, the doctor may recommend dental implants since they are durable and more convenient. During the procedure, the dentist will drill the jawbone and place screw-like posts that act as new teeth root. Artificial teeth that function, feel, and look like natural ones are then placed on the implants.
Dental implant surgery involves several procedures. Normally, it takes approximately 6 months for the process to complete.
The following are the four main steps involved when undergoing the procedure:
1. Comprehensive Dental Exam
A dental surgeon will initially conduct a thorough dental exam to assess if you qualify for a dental implant procedure. Mainly, the doctor requests an x-ray to get a 3D view of the gum and jawbone. Some of the qualifications of dental implant surgery include:
- Having healthy oral tissues
- Having adequate bone
- Having a jawbone that has reached full growth
2. Collecting and Reviewing Medical History
Besides the physical examination, the doctor may ask you many questions about your medical history to ascertain if your body is ready for a dental implant procedure. The dentist may ask about past and current medication.
They may also ask if you smoke since tobacco prevents the implant from fusing with the bone. More importantly, you will be asked about any underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes, as that can substantially slow the healing process.
3. Dental Implant Placement
The doctor will first make an incision on the gum. If you don't have enough tissues on the bone, the surgeon may recommend bone grafting. Titanium screws are then placed in the drilled holes in the jawbone, and the gum tissue is stitched back.
The bone is given a few months to heal before the abutment is placed. Once the abutment is placed, the wound may take up to two weeks to heal, and the artificial teeth are finally attached.
After the dental implants have been placed, they may take a few months to fully heal. Here are the best practices during recovery:
- Eat the right diet —Avoid hard and crunchy foods.
- Rest and relax — Take up to three days before resuming work.
- Always practice good oral hygiene — When the implant is completely healed, brush and floss regularly.
If missing teeth are affecting eating and your self-esteem, talk to a dentist about a dental implant procedure. You can have artificial teeth that feel, look, and act like natural teeth. The implants preserve the authenticity of your smile while maintaining the overall structure of your mouth.