Dental implants are prosthetic tooth roots that attach to the jawbone to replace a missing tooth or teeth. The tooth implant process is not a quick-fix solution, and it can take many months to complete the procedure from start to finish. If you’re considering the dental implant procedure, read on to find out what’s involved and whether you are a suitable candidate. Then, get a consultation at your local dental clinic to find out more.
What is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant has three parts:
- The titanium post – This is inserted into the jawbone to replace the missing tooth root
- The abutment – A small component that connects the restoration to the implant post.
- A custom dental crown – A natural-looking replacement tooth that is placed on the abutment to complete the restoration
Dental implants can replace one tooth, several adjacent or all the teeth in the upper or lower arch.
How Does the Tooth Implant Process Work?
There are three distinct stages of the dental implant procedure. These include extensive planning, dental implant surgery, and artificial teeth or tooth attachment to complete the process. Typically, the process takes four to six months, but if a bone graft is required to augment the jawbone, it may take up to a year.
1. Consultation & Planning
Dental implants have a high success rate, mainly due to the extensive planning that is a crucial part of the dental implant procedure. In the initial consultation, the dentist will review your medical history and conduct a thorough oral examination to assess your current condition. X-rays and 3D scans help evaluate the jawbone’s health and the position of nerves, blood vessels and sinuses. Having been cleared for treatment, the next step is to take impressions of the teeth to send to a dental lab that makes the custom artificial teeth. Additionally, dental implant surgery will be scheduled.
2. Dental Implant Surgery
Dental implant surgery is carried out in the dental clinic under local anaesthesia, although nervous patients can also request conscious sedation. During the surgery, a small flap is made in the top of the gum to access the jawbone. Next, a small hole is drilled into the bone, and the implant is inserted. The gum flap is stitched closed, covering the implant and the area left to heal.
During the healing time, the implant fuses with the bone to become a secure platform to support the replacement teeth.
3. Attachment of Artificial Tooth
3-4 months after the dental implant surgery, the artificial tooth is attached in a minor procedure at the dental clinic, which completes the dental implant procedure.
Am I A Suitable Candidate for Dental Implants?
For various reasons, the tooth implant process is not for everyone. Some people are unsuitable for dental implants due to medical or lifestyle factors. However, it is worth bearing in mind that every case is considered on its own merits, so it’s worth seeing a dentist that offers consultation appointments for an expert opinion. Some factors that may be cause for concern if you want a dental implant procedure include:
Chronic Medical Conditions
Some chronic medical conditions may make it difficult to have dental implants.
- Diabetes — For example, uncontrolled blood sugars for people with diabetes may impede the healing process after your implant surgery, which can ultimately lead to infection and implant failure. Furthermore, people with diabetes are more prone to gum disease because the condition affects saliva production, which can also affect the implant’s health.
- Heart Disease — Healing after surgery requires good blood flow, and heart disease can be a problem due to complications arising from a combination of medication and precautions.
- Osteoporosis — Weak bones or osteoporosis could mean that the jawbone and implant do not fuse properly. It may be that a patient needs to have a bone graft before the implant surgery, which will delay the completion of the procedure.
- Autoimmune diseases — Although dental implants are typically made from titanium (a biocompatible metal), autoimmune disorders can cause the body to reject them. This can lead to infection; ultimately, an implant may fail and have to be removed.
Smokers are not good candidates for dental implant procedures. Smoking affects blood flow by constricting blood vessels. Blood is responsible for transporting infection-fighting cells and nutrients around the body to where they are required. If blood is impeded, there is a risk of infection after the surgery.
Furthermore, smokers are more susceptible to gum disease. This may be because it is harder to keep the mouth cleaner as smokers tend to have increased plaque build-up and gum disease. These factors can contribute to peri-implantitis, a gum infection similar to gum disease that affects the tissues surrounding dental implants, which can lead to implant failure.
Find Out More
Get a dental consultation near you in Carindale to learn more about the tooth implant process and whether it’s for you. Call Carindale Family Dental today.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
Int. Journal of Implant Dentistry: Systematic review on diabetes mellitus and dental implants: an update
Evidence-Based Dentistry: How do different levels of smoking affect dental implants
American Academy of Periodontology: Peri-implant diseases
Austalian Dental Association – Queensland