Dental implants can provide permanent replacements for missing teeth without the discomfort, ill fit, and maintenance often required by traditional dentures. Custom-made to become a permanent part of your mouth, dental implants are designed to look and feel natural – as though you never lost a tooth to begin with. The following step-by-step guide to the dental implants procedure can give you an idea of what to expect.
Step One: Dental Implant Evaluation
The first step in the dental implants process is the evaluation of your candidacy for the procedure. Patients who are good candidates for dental implants are often those who have strong bone density in the jaw, which can allow adequate support for the implant. For patients who do not have strong enough jawbone density, a bone graft placed in the area of the missing tooth is often an effective option to provide the support ultimately needed for the implant. Patients who are not candidates for dental implants may be eligible for alternative treatments, such as dentures or bridges.
Step Two: Placement of Dental Implant
The next step in the dental implants process is the placement of the implants. A thin titanium rod will be attached to the jawbone under the gumline in the area of the missing tooth. The rod will act as the tooth root. A period of several months after placement of the rod will be necessary for it to fuse itself to the jawbone. A temporary crown can be placed over the rod during this period. The process of fusion is referred to as osseointegration, and is ultimately what will make your dental implant a permanent fixture of your mouth, similar to your natural teeth.
Step Three: Placement of Implant Crown
The third and last step of the dental implants procedure is called implant restoration – the placement of a permanent dental crown. Once the dentist has determined that the titanium implant has properly fused to the jawbone, a dental crown – custom-designed to blend in with your natural teeth – will be affixed to the top of the implant.
Dental implants can be used to replace one or two missing teeth or an entire set of top and bottom teeth. They can also be effective as bridge and denture supports to provide a better fit for artificial teeth.