Is a dental implant right for you? If you have missing teeth, the problem goes deeper than just the insecurity of having gaps in your smile. Over time, a space between your teeth will cause shifting of teeth, and even potential evaporation of jaw bone that can lead to shifts in facial structure.
That’s why you need a dental implant. When it comes to tooth replacement, there are typically three options: removable dental appliances, fixed dental bridges, and dental implants. Because they are not permanently affixed, removable dental appliances tend to be a more cumbersome solution. Dental bridges required that the teeth on either side of the gap be treated and drilled. Compared to the other solutions, a dental implant is the most natural, long-lasting solution for your dental care.
What is a Dental Implant?
Dental implants are considered to be the standard for replacing one or more missing teeth, and are intended to last a lifetime if properly cared for. Implants replace the tooth root that’s missing from your mouth. A titanium base is installed in place of the root, bonding with the jawbone to create a strong base for your crown.
Dental implants are made up of three main components: the screw-like implant that’s inserted into the gum and jawbone, the abutment placed on the dental implant as a connecting device, and an implant crown, which will be acting as your new tooth. Your implant is designed to function as a natural tooth or teeth, and are the only dental restoration options that can actually preserve the natural bone in your jaw.
How Long Does it Take to Get an Implant?
The amount of time it takes to get a dental implant varies depending on the patient. Generally, the process should take about six to eight months, and goes in three separate phases.
- Implant Placement. During this first phase, the implant is surgically placed into the bone. Essentially, the original root is being replaced with a titanium post. For the next three to six months, your body will process the implant and allow it to integrate into your jaw. This process is called osseointegration. While the implant site is healing, the implant will lie underneath the gum tissue.
- Abutment Placement. After three to six months have passed to allow osseointegration to take place, your dentist will determine whether it’s time to place an abutment onto your implant. An abutment is the connecting link between your implant and your crown. To install the abutment, a small incision is made into the gum tissue in order to expose the implant. In most cases, a healing abutment is first placed temporarily onto the implant. After four to six weeks, this abutment is replaced with a permanent installment of a final abutment.
- Prosthetic Tooth Placement. The final phase of the process is installing the tooth, or the crown into your dental implant. Your dentist will take a model of your mouth to make sure your prosthesis has a custom, comfortable fit. This will include impressions of your jaws, teeth, and abutment. You’ll also use bite registrations to mark how your teeth come together in order to place a natural fit for the prosthesis.
After the impressions and bite registrations are taken, your dentist will create the final crown. From there, you’ll go through fittings where the prosthesis is tested in your mouth to fit for bite and comfort. The crown is then attached to the implant, and the procedure is finished. This stage may take anywhere from several weeks to a few months.
Usually, taking time off isn’t required for a dental implant surgery. Certain patients might require a bone graft in the area of the jaw where the tooth is being placed if the bone is too narrow for an implant. Adding in bone grafting increases the timeline by about three to four months, and would be conducted before phase one.
Caring for Your Implant
When you’re going through the various stages of the dental implant procedure, always contact your dentist if you have concerns. Dental implants are one of the most common procedures performed throughout the industry. However, not cleaning or caring for your implant throughout the process can delay the timeline of getting your new tooth.
While you’re in the process of receiving your implant, follow the dentist’s instructions on what foods to eat and how to clean the area. Brush with a soft-bristled brush twice a day, and consider using a water flosser or dental tape.
Things to watch for:
- If your implants or abutments feel loose inside your gum tissue
- Increasing pain in your jaw as the days go by
- If your bite feels incorrect after placement of prosthesis
- Chipping, loosening, or breaking of prosthesis
- Bleeding around the implant site
- Signs of a sinus infection – stuffiness, congestion, strong headaches
When you’re considering getting a dental implant, you have a lot of questions. At NU Dental, we’re ready to give you all the information you need regarding your procedure. Is it finally time for your new smile? Book a free consultation today.