Dental Implant Surgery: What to Expect, Start to Finish
If you’re considering dental implant surgery, congratulations – you’re on your way to a better smile. Here’s what to expect before, during and after surgery.
You’ve been cleared for dental implant surgery, making you one step closer to getting your smile back!
So what can you expect moving forward?
For starters, dental implants isn’t a one-time surgery. It’s actually a multi-step process that can require anywhere from several weeks to nine months to complete, depending on what your needs are.
But why would a dentist or oral surgeon need months to complete dental implants? Can’t they just implant the tooth and call it a day?
If that were the case, dental implants wouldn’t have the 98% success rate it has today. The process is long because your mouth and jawbone must be prepared to withstand your implants over a long period of time. That’s why dentists require you to have an adequate bone density in your jawbone before moving forward with the procedure.
Your Dental Implant Surgery May Require Bone Grafting
If your dentist determines that your jawbone is not thick enough for the surgery, you will likely undergo bone grafting to strengthen your jaw.
A soft jawbone will not withstand or support implants for long periods of time, so a surgeon will need to borrow bone from another source in your body. Your hip bone, for example.
Depending on how much jawbone support you need, bone grafting can take anywhere from days to months to complete, as your jaw will need time to regrow bone mass. Your dentist may also choose to use an artificial bone material instead.
If you require very little bone grafting, the procedure could even take place on the day of your tooth implant surgery.
Either way, your dentist will keep you up to date on the logistics of your surgery.
How To Prepare For Your Surgery
How you treat your oral health before dental implant surgery is just as important as any other step in the process.
Your dentist will give you comprehensive pre-surgery instructions to follow. Your instructions may include the following:
- Eat a healthy breakfast on surgery day. However, if you are receiving a sedative for your surgery, your dentist will ask you to not eat food the evening before your surgery.
- You may be asked to use a special antibacterial mouthwash in the days leading up to your surgery.
- Secure a reliable transportation to and from your surgery.
Of course, you should maintain excellent oral care before your surgery to ensure your gums are ready to withstand implants.
Preparing and Implanting Your Tooth
It’s surgery time, so here’s what you need to know.
One of the first questions patients ask is, “is it painful?”
It’s important to note that any surgical procedure comes with some degree of discomfort. However, your oral surgeon will use either a local anesthesia or another type of sedative to ensure that you don’t feel any pain during the procedure.
After administering anesthesia, your surgeon will proceed with the following steps:
- Your surgeon will make small incisions in your mouth, creating small “flaps” that expose the bone needed to fuse implants in place.
- Using a drill, your surgeon will carefully create the room needed to implant your new tooth.
- Dental implants are comprised of a crown, abutment, and titanium screw. Next, your dentist will fix the titanium screw in the empty space.
- With the metal based fixed firmly in place, your jawbone will need time to grow and naturally fuse with the metal post.
- After the bone regrowth process is complete, your dentist will combine the abutment with the titanium screw. The abutment is what keeps your crown in place.
- Your gums will need a few weeks to heal and strengthen before adding the crown.
- After your gums heal, your dentist may take teeth impressions to make sure your implants fit securely and naturally.
- The final step is fixing your natural-looing tooth crown onto the abutment.
Depending on how many teeth you’re replacing, the process can take weeks to several months to complete. By that time, your jawbone should be successfully fused and unified with the implant.
Recovering After Your Surgery
As noted earlier, you will likely experience some degree of discomfort after your surgery. Common symptoms may include the following:
- Minor bruising
- Pain from the implant site itself
- Gum and face swelling
- Slight bleeding
Your dentist or surgeon may prescribe or recommend a pain medication to relieve your discomfort. However, if your pain stays or worsens over time, contact your dentist as soon as possible.
To ensure a healthy recovery, your dentist will provide an aftercare guide to follow. Aftercare instructions may include the following:
- Avoid hard and crunchy foods, opting for soft foods instead.
- Continue regular brushing and flossing daily.
- Have regular check-ups
- Use antibacterial mouth rinse.
It’s important to stay diligent with your aftercare as well. If not, you may experience the following problems:
- Gums around the implant site may become infected.
- Possible bone loss around the surgical site.
- The implant itself may not completely fuse to the bone.
- Your body may reject your dental implants altogether.
Most importantly, treat your new teeth as you would your natural teeth. Dental implants have a high success rate, but that mostly depends on how you care for them.
Long-Term Implant Care
Over time, your implants may need periodic replacing or other maintenance procedures. That’s why it’s crucial to keep your teeth, gums, and jawbone strong. Moreover, that’s less money coming out of your pocket!
Dental implants last a lifetime with proper care, so do your best to avoid the following bad habits:
- Poor overall oral hygiene
- Using sharp objects between teeth
- Teeth grinding and jaw clenching. This is known to fracture teeth.
- Drinking coffee
Remember to drink plenty of water and to maintain a good health profile overall. If you’re healthy inside and out, your body won’t reject your dental implants. Moreover, certain health conditions, like diabetes or heart conditions, can lead to poor oral health.
You’re now another step closer to smiling confidently again!
Remember to maintain excellent pre and post surgery care to maintain your brilliant new smile for years to come. Talk to your dentist today to make sure you have everything you need to ensure a successful dental implant surgery.