Do you have missing teeth that make it difficult to talk, chew, or smile confidently? Dental implants are a permanent, surgical method for replacing your natural teeth with crowns. However, instead of being cemented over your existing teeth, like dental crowns or veneers, dental implants are attached to a small post that is anchored into your jaw. The result is a completely natural-looking, comfortable, long-lasting tooth replacement.
From your first assessment to your last followup, we'll walk you through the process of getting dental implants.
Before you can have dental implants placed, periodontist Dr. Karl A. Rose will need to conduct an initial consultation. During this appointment, Dr. Rose will inspect the health of your teeth and jaw by taking a few different x-rays. You will also need to fill out a medical history form, because some medications and conditions can affect your body’s ability to heal after dental implant surgery. Dr. Rose will also talk with you about which teeth need to be replaced with dental implants, and give you a bid for the operation. If necessary, our practice administrator, Margaret, can also contact your dental insurance company to see what coverage your policy offers for implant procedures. Taking these first steps will help you to have a better idea of what to expect, and will help Dr. Rose to proceed safely.
Contrary to popular belief, most dental implant procedures are not conducted in a single visit. If you have been missing teeth for a while or are currently suffering from periodontitis or advanced periodontal disease, your teeth, gums, and jaw tissue may need time to heal before you undergo dental implant surgery. Depending on the current condition of your mouth, dental implants can take anywhere from one visit to eight months to install. During your initial dental implants consultation, Dr. Rose can give you a better idea of what to expect in regards to your dental implant procedure timeline.
As you talk and chew, your teeth move slightly in their sockets, providing much-needed stimulation to your jawbone. This stimulation helps to keep the bone healthy and strong. Unfortunately, if teeth go missing, your jawbone can start to melt away, changing your face shape and diminishing the area where dental implants can be placed. Before you can receive dental implant surgery, Dr. Rose will have to evaluate the height and width of your jawbone to determine if you have enough bone to anchor an implant. If you don’t, Dr. Rose may recommend a bone graft. Bone graft surgery involves stitching a small sliver of harvested bone in the area where the implant will be placed. Bone grafts can take as long as 2-3 months to heal.
After your jawbone is healthy and strong, Dr. Rose will place the post. After numbing the area with a local anesthetic, Dr. Rose will make a small incision to expose the healthy bone tissue. Next, a small titanium post will be placed under the gum tissue and into the bone. This post will act as the anchor for the abutment and crown. After the post has been successfully implanted, the area will need to heal so that it has time to fuse with your jawbone. This step, referred to as osseointegration, can take several months, but is crucial to the overall success of your dental implant.
When Dr. Rose determines that your abutment is secure and that your jaw has had time to heal, he will place the abutment and the final crown. The abutment acts as a connector between the post and the crown, and it is exposed above the gum tissue. After the abutment is in place, Dr. Rose will cement the final dental crown in place.