If you've had to have one or more teeth extracted, you may be unhappy with the gap left in your teeth. Rest assured — there are permanent solutions that can replace your missing teeth. Dental implants are perhaps the most stable form of replacement; they can even prevent bone erosion due to missing teeth. The dental implant procedure is a process with several steps, so it's beneficial for you to understand what will happen. This is what you should expect from your dental implant treatment:
1. You may need a bone graft.
First, your dentist will assess the underlying structures in your jaw and mouth. They will check your jawbone to ensure that there is enough bone mass for the dental implant to attach to. This is important since the implant itself is a metal bar that will be placed directly into your jawbone. If you don't have enough bone available, you may first need to have a bone graft performed. During this part of the procedure, a surgeon will remove a small piece of bone from somewhere else in your body, and they'll graft it onto your jaw bone. You will need time to heal after the bone graft.
2. Your procedure may be done in two stages.
Once the metal implant is placed, your dentist will wait until it's fully healed before attaching the screw and crown that will make up your final implant. This can take up to six months, according to Colgate. During this time, you won't have any metal protruding from your gum; at this point, your whole implant is beneath your gum line. After the healing period, your dentist will make a cut in your gum to expose the implant, and they'll attach a small piece of metal called an abutment to your implant. Your crown will be attached over this abutment.
3. You will be given a temporary crown if you opt for a single procedure implant.
Some dentists offer the option of completing the implant procedure in a single visit. In this case, they will place the metal rod in your jawbone and attach the abutment at the same time. Your jawbone will still need time to heal around the implant, and your gums will need time to recover. In the meantime, your dentist will attach a temporary crown to the abutment, and a permanent crown will be molded and put in place at a later time.
To learn more, contact a dentist who offers dental implant services.