After a consultation with your dentist, you’ve decided to get dental implants in San Diego. But while you’re definitely looking forward to having a complete smile again, you’re also feeling nervous about the procedure. For any kind of surgery, knowing exactly what to expect can help you feel at ease. Keep reading to learn more about the 5 stages of the implant process and how they ultimately lead to a new and improved smile.
1. Preparing for the Surgery
Once your mouth is ready to receive dental implants, your dentist will schedule the surgery to place the titanium posts to your mouth. You’ll receive a number of instructions to help you get ready in order to ensure everything goes smoothly. For example, if you have a high risk of infection, you might be prescribed to antibiotics to take for a few days to lower the chances of a post-operative complication. Depending on a type of sedation used, you may either be asked to eat a good breakfast before the surgery, or you might be told not to eat anything after midnight the night before.
2. Implant Placement
A local anesthesia will numb the mouth so that you won’t feel any pain. After an incision is made in the gums, a space in your jawbone will be created, and the implant post will be inserted using a special tool. Once it’s firmly in place, the gums will be closed over the implant.
The initial discomfort of implant placement will fade after a few days, but it will take a few months for your mouth to fully heal. During this time, osseointegration occurs, causing the implant and bone to fuse together. This step is absolutely crucial; the implant will stimulate the jaw to help it maintain its density, which in turn keeps the implant secure.
4. Abutment Placement
Once osseointegration is complete, the gums will be reopened so that an extension called an abutment can be placed on the implant post. The abutment is the part that the prosthetic tooth is attached to.
5. Prosthetic Design and Placement
The final step is creating and placing the crown, dental bridge, or dentures that will serve as your new teeth. This may require several appointments, and it could take a dental lab a few weeks to make the restoration. Once it’s ready, you’ll come in for one last appointment to have it anchored to your implant posts.
It’s important to remember that every patient is different. Your procedure may have a couple of extra steps (such as periodontal therapy) depending on your needs. Luckily, there’s no need to worry; a skilled dentist will be there to guide you each and every step of the way!
About the Author
Dr. Peter F. Johnson has served in the US Naval Dental Corps and was the Officer-in-Charge of all prosthetic dental laboratories at the San Diego naval bases. Today, he serves his community as a board-certified prosthodontist, providing high-quality, long-lasting dental implants. To schedule an appointment at his practice, San Diego Denture and Implant Specialists, visit his website or call (619) 463-3737.