Dental implants replace your tooth roots and offer a number of advantages. The implants provide a strong and solid foundation for replacement teeth and improve the appearance of your teeth. The most common method of dental implant placement is a three-step process. If your doctor is going to use this method, it helps to know what to expect at each stage.
Stage One - Implant Placement
During the first stage of the three-step dental implant procedure, your oral surgeon buries the implant into your gums. To do this he makes an incision in your gums to expose the bone and then drills a hole in the bone where the implant post will fit. The post replaces your tooth root so the hole makes it possible to bury it deeply and securely into the bone. During healing you're allowing the bone of your jaw to grow in and unite with the placement of the implant. This process is known as osseointegration and can take 3 to 6 months. It's typical for the surgeon to put a temporary denture in place to improve the appearance while you heal. You'll clean the temporary denture as you would your regular teeth and you'll remove it overnight while you sleep so you can leave it soaking in a denture solution.
Stage Two - Abutment Placement
Once the osseointegration process is complete, your surgeon will place the piece where the crown will attach, known as an abutment. This process is a minor surgical procedure where your oral surgeon reopens your gums so that the dental implant is exposed. Then he uses tools to attach the connecting element to the implant before closing the gums. The abutment acts as a bridge that follows along your gum line. As with the first stage, healing time is required after placement of the abutment. The healing time for this portion varies, but you can expect to wait anywhere from two to four weeks before moving on to the next stage.
Stage Three - Prosthetic Tooth / Crown
The final stage of the process is to have your artificial tooth placed. Your doctor will make impressions so that your prosthetic tooth looks realistic and aesthetically pleasing. You and your doctor will decide whether to go with a removable implant or a fixed one. A removable prosthesis is fixed on a metal frame that snaps into place, while a permanent prosthesis is cemented onto the implant. Once your surgeon deems your jawbone strong enough, he will place the prosthetic tooth. Contact a dental provider, like Dental Images, for more information.