No one likes the thought of losing their teeth, but sadly for some of us this is a reality. You can lose a tooth through decay, damage, trauma or just age, leaving you with gaps in your smile. But instead of leaving these gaps as they are, which can result in your other teeth shifting to fill the gap and leaving more gaps along the jawline, you can get it filled with an artificial tooth known as an implant.
An implant can help restore your smile and protect the teeth around it, but it can take some time to do. Your average dental implant takes between 3-6 months from start to finish with 4-5 visits to the dentist throughout. To help you understand your implant journey, we’ve put together this little guide on how implants are made and fitted.
Appointment 1 – Consultation
Before you have any work done you will first need to see your dentist in order to decide if an implant is right for you. Your dentist will perform a thorough examination of the gap and the teeth around it, as well as a full jaw exam to asses if there is any further damage. They will then review your medical history, take X-Rays and make impressions of your teeth and gums so that the implants can start to be made. In some cases, where they see potential problems they may also perform a computed tomography (CT) scan of your mouth to assess how much jawbone is available to hold the implants in place. It will also show them where your sinuses and nerves are so that they can avoid them during surgery. If this scan shows that your jawbone is eroded or damaged enough to cause problems, they will discuss ways in which they can build up the bone. This process is called bone grafting, which involves adding processed bone or synthetic materials onto your jawbone to build a strong surface, and this will add some time on to your procedure. If you need bone grafting it could take between 4 to 12 months before your jawbone is ready to receive the implant.
Appointment 2 – Implant Placement
The placement of the actual implant can be done as soon as month 1 if no extra procedures are needed, or between month 5 and 12 if you have needed bone grafting surgery. The placement of the implant is fairly simple. The dentist will use a personalised guide over the gap to show them where the implant will need to be placed before drilling a small hole into the jawbone. From there they will use a sequence of slightly bigger drills in order to create a hole for the implant to sit in. The physical implant is then placed in the hole and screwed in place. This is then left to heal for a few months to allow the bone to fuse with the implants, creating a solid base. You will not be able to see any difference in your teeth yet, as the implant sits below your gum line.
Appointment 3- Healing Collar/Temporary Crown
Once the implants have successfully fused with the bones and healed, you are ready for your second surgery. This involves making an incision in your gums around the implant in order to expose it. A healing collar or a temporary crown is then placed on the head of the implant. This procedure is done to encourage the gum tissue to heal correctly around the collar and hold the gum away from the implant itself, allowing for easy placement of the final crown. A healing collar will be left in place for 10-14 days, while a temporary crown will need to be in place for 4-6 weeks.
Appointment 4 – Placement Of Permanent Crown
This is the final stage of the process, and is usually done between 5-11 months after your initial consultation. Soon after your collar or temporary crown is placed, the dentist will get to work creating the permanent crown for you. This process takes between 2-3 weeks, allowing time for your mouth to heal. The final crown can be fitted to your implant in 2 ways, it can be cemented or it can be screwed in. Cemented crowns will often look better because there is no screw hole in the crown that could be visible, but a screw crown can be easier for your dentist to remove in case of problems. This decision is something you should discuss with your dentist to figure out what’s best for you. Once your permanent crown is in place you will need to care for your implant the same way you care for your natural teeth, and remember to contact your dentist if you are experiencing any problems.
Appointment 5 – Check Up
Around 6 months after your permanent crown is fitted you will need to see your dentist for a check-up. During this visit your dentist will perform a routine exam and ask how you are finding your crown. If you are experiencing any discomfort or your crown is wobbling, cracking or loose, your dentist will be able to fix this. These complications are very rare, and 99% of implant check-ups are uneventful.
Overall your implant procedure should be painless, and you will only need anaesthetic for appointments 2 and 3. If there are no complications you will be enjoying your complete smile in no time. For more information about dental implants or to book in your consultation, get in touch with Dentist in Fleet today.