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A Guide to The Dental Implant Procedure Step by Step
When a dentist recommends a dental implant procedure, patients often wonder what the procedure involves and how long the process is. Implants can be an option for people who have lost one or many teeth and are looking for a replacement option other than removable dentures. The goal of the procedure is to leave the patient with a tooth that looks and feels as natural as possible.
Knowing the steps for how an implant is placed can help the patient decide if it is an option they should pursue.
Steps in the dental implant procedure
The following is a list of steps, from preparing for the procedure to the final crown.
1. Preparation for the procedure
At a consultation appointment, the doctor decides if an adequate bone level is available to place an implant in the area of a missing tooth or teeth. After the dentist gives the approval for a dental implant, the appointment for initial placement can be scheduled.
Before the doctor begins the implant procedure, a local anesthetic is given to the area the implant will be placed. Some oral surgeons may use sedation as well.
2. Accessing bone
Once the area receiving the implant is sufficiently anesthetized, the doctor makes a small incision in the gums to access the bone that will anchor the implant.
3. Preparing bone for implant
After the incision, the doctor can see the bone and uses a special guide to drill a small hole into this area. This hole is meticulously measured so that the implant fits securely inside it.
4. Implant Placement
The doctor carefully places the implant inside the bone, and the implant fills the hole made by the guide.
5. Closing the incision
After initial implant placement, the dentist places stitches in the area of the incision to promote gum healing in the following weeks.
6. Healing period
The average time between implant placement and the next step of placing the healing cap is about six months. This waiting period is typically needed for the implant to fully integrate into the bone.
7. Re-exposing the implant
Once the jawbone has healed for an appropriate amount of time, the doctor makes another small incision in the implant area and attaches a healing cap to the implant. This cap helps the gums sufficiently heal around the area where the permanent crown will be seated. The healing cap, or abutment, usually remains in place for two to three weeks.
8. Placing the final abutment and crown
When the healing abutment is removed, the final abutment can be placed and impressions can be made for the permanent crown. A temporary crown is placed on the final abutment and the permanent crown is usually fabricated in a dental lab, where it will be ready for placement in three to four weeks.
Dental implant procedures are widely misunderstood and feared because of inaccurate knowledge of the procedure. When patients know more about each step in the operation, it can help them feel more at ease and more open to an implant as a restorative option.
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