Dental implant surgery is a procedure that replaces damaged or missing teeth with artificial teeth that look and function much like real ones. Dental implant surgery can offer a welcome alternative to ill-fitting dentures or bridgework.
How dental implant surgery is performed depends on the type of implant and the condition of your jawbone. All dental implant surgery occurs in stages and involves several procedures. The major benefit from implants is solid support for your new teeth—a process that requires the bone to heal tightly around the implant. Because this healing requires time, the process can take a few months.
Why Dental Implants Are Used
Dental implants are surgically placed in your jawbone, where they serve as the roots of missing teeth. Because the titanium in the implants fuses with your jawbone, the implants won’t slip, make noise, or cause bone damage the way fixed bridgework or dentures might. Also, the materials used can’t decay like your own teeth can when supporting regular bridgework. replace-single
In general, dental implants may be right for you if you:
- Have one or more missing teeth
- Have a jawbone that’s reached full growth
- Have adequate bone to secure the implants, or are able to have a bone graft
- Have healthy oral tissues
- Don’t have health conditions that will affect bone healing
- Are unable or unwilling to wear dentures
- Want to improve your speech
- Are willing to commit several months to the process
Because dental implants require one or more surgical procedures, you must have a thorough evaluation in preparation for the process. The process involves:
- Having a comprehensive dental exam. This may include dental X-rays and having models made of your mouth.
- Getting a treatment plan. Tailored to your situation, this plan takes into account factors such as how many teeth you need to have replaced and the condition of your jawbone.
Placement of dental implants and artificial teeth involves surgical procedures usually done in several stages. The entire process takes three to nine months—sometimes longer. Much of that time is devoted to healing and waiting for the growth of new bone in your jaw.
Typically, the dental implant cylinder is first implanted in your jawbone. This is followed by a healing period that may last several months. After that, the abutment is placed, followed by your new artificial tooth (also called an implant prosthesis or crown).