At least 99.7% of all people in the United States think a good looking smile is important for their social lives, according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). Despite this, the average time people put between dental visits is far greater than what is recommended by most dentists. Dental experts recommend people have dental cleanings and check ups every six months. That makes the three years people wait to see a dentist a very long time. One the consequences is that millions of Americans have lost teeth to dental decay and gum disease. For many of these people, dental implats are a good option. If you are considering implats to replace missing teeth, this is what you can expect.
- Your mouth needs to be evaluated. Your family dentist should recommend an oral surgeon to do this. An oral surgeon will take some x-rays of your mouth. The reason for this is that they need to make sure you have enough bone in your jaw to support the implats. During your consultation, the surgeon will go over a detailed course of action to follow to get your the dental implants. If your jaw does not have the needed bone, they will talk to you about a bone graft to make the area ready for the implant. If your oral surgeon determines that you need a bone graft, this will elongate the process by at least a few months.
- If any of your missing teeth are still there, they have to go. The next step in the process is to remove any remnants of the tooth. Often there is a large chunk of at least the root. This may be both diseased and damaged. After the broken tooth or teeth have been removed, you will have to recover. Depending on the extent of the damage to your mouth, recovery from this surgery can take just a few weeks or up to three months. When you have this done, the oral surgeon can go over the recovery time with you. Some of this will depend on your general health.
- The implant will need to be inserted. After your gums have healed from all of the surgery, the tooth extraction and/or bone graft, you will go back to the oral surgeon to have the implats inserted in your jaw. This is often done under general anesthesia. The surgeon creates a hole in your jaw that is a similar size to the root the implant will be replacing. They then screw in the implant. A healing cap or temporary screw cover is placed over the implant. For times when the tooth in question is a front tooth, most people are given what is called a “flipper” tooth to act like a placeholder in that spot so that there is no gap.
- The oral surgeon attaches your abutment. After your mouth has fully healed from the implant surgery, this can take up to five months, the surgeon will attach the abutment. This is a much more minor procedure. They remove the healing cap or cover screw and attach your abutment. Often a temporary crown will be attached to the abutment but some dentists and oral surgeons think this presents another set of stability problems.
- Your crown is added. The healing process from the abutment attachment usually lasts about a week. After your mouth is healed, your dentist will attach the crown. This is the last step in the process of putting in dental implats. The crown should look and feel just like your other teeth. The process is complete and you have the closest thing to a natural tooth replacing your lost tooth or teeth.
- Take care of your implants. Once your implants have been inserted and the crown has been attached, you need to maintain a healthy mouth. The implants are impervious to decay but they can be covered in plaque and bacteria. You should brush after each meal, use a good mouthwash several times a day and floss at least once a day, preferably just before you go to bed.
Losing teeth is a terrible experience. Having dental implants put in is the best way to replace lost or broken teeth.