Dental implant surgery is typically performed in several visits over the course of several months. While this might seem like a lengthy procedure, the vast majority of patients find it well worth the time and cost because dental implants so closely resemble their natural teeth. A properly placed and cared for dental implant is virtually indistinguishable from a healthy natural tooth in fit, feel, stability and function! Let’s take a look at the typical 2-stage dental implant procedure:
To Begin (Stage 1):
After a patient has been deemed eligible for a dental implant, the first step is to place the implant. Your dentist will utilize x-rays and CT scans to carefully plot the ideal position for the implant, make an incision in the gums, place the implant deep within the jawbone, then suture (stitch) the surgery site closed.
A healing period follows, during which your jawbone fuses with the implant in a process called osseointegration. This creates a very strong and stable foundation for the artificial tooth, much like a natural tooth root. This period usually lasts three to six months.
To Complete (Stage 2):
After the healing period is finished, your dentist begins the second stage with a mini procedure: he makes an incision to expose the implant and places a healing cap on top of the implant to seal it from the oral environment and aid gum tissue healing. (This step can vary; sometimes the implant and healing cap are placed at the same time during stage 1.)
After a couple weeks, your dentist removes the healing cap and attaches the abutment. He makes an impression of your teeth and sends it to the dental lab to create your custom-made crown. Once this permanent crown is placed, the implant procedure is complete! With proper care, your dental implant will feel, fit and function just like natural healthy tooth and can last a lifetime!
Sometimes, a patient does not have sufficient jaw bone to support the implant, or their sinus floor is too low and will prevent implant success. For cases such as these, additional treatments such as bone grafting or sinus augmentation must be completed before the implant can be placed.