Whether you're looking to restore lost teeth after an accident or repair an incomplete smile for cosmetic reasons, dental implants can provide the relief, look, and feel of a set of beautiful teeth. A lot goes into selecting the perfect implant for you, so be sure to do your research and consult a cosmetic or restorative dentist (depending on your need) before jumping into having the dental implant procedure.
Before going right into the procedure it is important to learn about:
There are options when it comes to dental implants
In the world of cosmetic and restorative dentistry, there are two main types of dental implants: Endosteal implants and subperiosteal.
Endosteal implants are a type of dental implant in which an artificial tooth is put into the jawbone of a patient. It acts as an artificial root to stabilize the tooth and ensure that it will not fall out. Typically made of titanium or steel, these screw-shaped implants penetrate the bone while protruding from the gums to hold the artificial tooth in place.
Subperiosteal implants are often used in place of endosteal when a patient's jawbone is not sturdy or healthy enough to support a dental implant. Instead, subperiosteal dental implants are placed on or above the jaw bone. From there they protrude from the gums to hold a replacement tooth.
Sometimes neither of these popular options are best for the patient, especially if more than one tooth is missing. In these instances, dentists refer to other dental implant techniques such as implant-supported bridges (in which one implant — either endosteal or subperiosteal — supports other artificial teeth in a bridge). Implant-retained dentures work in much the same way — opting to have one implanted tooth while other artificial teeth are held in a patient's mouth by dentures.
Preparing for the dental implant procedure
No matter what type of dental implant you and your dentist decide is best for your situation, you will need to undergo the dental implant procedure. And as with nearly everything, having correct and well rounded knowledge of what to expect will help to reduce stress during the procedure.
As endosteal implants are the most common type of dental implant, that will be the procedure outlined below.
The Dental Implant Process Explained in 3 Simple Steps
- After thoroughly numbing the area, the initial procedure will involve your dentist cutting the gum, exposing the jaw bone. Then, a small drill will be used to create a whole where the endosteal implant post will be fitted. The gum will be closed over the post.
- After a few months (2 to 6, usually) the jaw bone will grow around the post, securing it. This is called the ossification process. Once it is complete, your dentist or oral surgeon will re-open your gum above the post and attach the implant. Sometimes these two procedures are done at once. Talk to your dentist to see what option is best for you.
- Following the dental implant procedure, you may experience pain and facial swelling, but once the healing process is complete a mold can be taken for a crown and the final artificial tooth can be secured in either a removable or fixed fashion, depending on preference.
Choosing the best dental implants for you
Choosing the right type of dental implant for you starts and ends with a conversation between you and your dentist. You will most likely need a few appointments before your dental implant procedure, so prepare for that. In these appointments your dentist will determine if you are a strong candidate for an endosteal implant, subperiosteal implant, or if you would be best suited to get an implant-supported bridge or dentures to replace multiple missing teeth.
If your smile has some gaps in it that are causing you pain or limiting how much you smile, you won't want to wait to get the dental implant process started.