Consultation: To begin the dental implant process, you will receive a consultation from an implant specialist. Your general dentist may not be the person to perform this consultation. Be sure to ask whether or not they have experience in this process. There are some dentists that perform the entire procedure including surgery. While it may seem easier to go to a “one-stop-shop” dentist who does it all him or herself but this is not advisable unless you have thoroughly vetted their professional experience with not only dentistry but also the oral surgery component necessary to perform a successful implant.
Preparation of the Implant Site – Tooth Extraction and Bone Grafting: The ultimate success of a dental implant depends in large part on the health of the patient and their jawbone prior to placement of the dental implant posts. A sufficient amount of healthy bone is needed for the implant post to fully integrate into the jawbone. Some patients, specifically those who have been missing teeth for many years, may not have enough healthy bone to support an implant. In such cases an experienced professional can perform a bone grafting procedure to build up the bone at the implant site. During this procedure, he will take healthy bone from another part of the body and place it into the jawbone. If taking bone from another part of the body is not an option, some other options include using cadaver bone or bovine bone. Dependent upon your particular case, it may also be necessary to extract an existing non-performing, rotted or otherwise compromised tooth or teeth to make room for the implants.
Placement of Dental Implants and the Replacement Teeth: Once prepared, an incision in the gum will be made and the implant will be surgically implanted into the jawbone. The oral surgery is usually a quick and relatively painless procedure. It is done under a local anesthetic. It will usually take several months for the jawbone and gum to fully heal while your living bone fuses with the implant, a process called osseointegration. Once healing is complete, you will return to your general or cosmetic dentist to have a natural-looking replacement tooth affixed on the implant post.
After the entire dental implant procedure is completed you should be the beneficiary of a permanent tooth or teeth. The longevity of the implant prosthetic will vary dependent upon many factors, including age, general health, oral health and how you care for your teeth.