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Your dental implant procedure – a step-by-step guide

Your dental implant procedure – a step-by-step guide

Implant dentistry is one of the fastest-growing areas of dentistry today as more and more patients realise the benefits of dental implants far outweigh their cost.

Dental implants can replace a single missing tooth, or can be used as an anchor for a bridge to replace multiple missing teeth. Because the implant is secured deep into your jawbone, the final tooth replacement usually lasts longer and is more solid and secure than traditional dentures. Not only that – dental implants offer a wide-range of other benefits too.

In this post, we provide a step-by-step guide to the dental implant procedure.

Step 1: assessing and preparing the dental implant site

Because dental implants are fitted into your jawbone, your dentist will need to check the condition of the bone site and make sure there’s enough bone to hold the implant securely. Your dentist will also use x-rays to check for nearby blood vessels and nerves.

If you don’t have enough bone in your jaw to accommodate the implant successfully, your dentist will discuss options with you. This may involve bone-grafting, using synthetic bone, or a process called ‘bone distraction’ – a special procedure which will help your body create new bone on the implant site. If this is necessary, it will simply take a little longer before your new implant can be fitted.

At your first surgical visit, your dentist will anaesthetise the implant site before removing gum tissue to expose the bone underneath. This may be done either with a scalpel, or, in some cases, a special ‘punch’ which is a less invasive way of accessing the bone.

Step 2: positioning the implant

Your dentist will make a pilot hole in the bone of the implant site. The hole will initially be drilled just half-way, and an alignment pin will be used to make sure the hole is at the right depth and angle to accommodate the new dental implant. Once the dentist is satisfied with the alignment, a series of increasingly larger drills will be used to widen the hole to the correct size.

During this stage, the drilling will be slow and the implant site will be flushed regularly with either water or saline solution. This is to prevent the bone from overheating during the drilling process, which can affect the fusion of the implant to the bone.

Step 3: placing the implant

Because the implant is screwed into the bone, a special instrument will be used to create a ‘thread’ in the bone which matches the thread on the implant. Some implants are ‘self-threading’, which means they create their own thread as the implant is inserted.

Once the implant is screwed into place, a special collar, or ‘implant cap’ is used to seal the implant site from the rest of the mouth. This will protect the implant site and help the gum to heal around the new implant safely.

Healing times can vary, depending on the position of the implant site and the techniques used to access the bone. Any stitches used to help position the gum around the implant cap are usually ready to be removed between 7 and 10 days, although it may take several months before the implant is ready to receive its final prosthetic tooth. This is because the bone and the implant must completely ‘osseointegrate’ before the final work – otherwise pressure and movement could disrupt the healing of the new implant.

Step 4: creating your new tooth

The final step is split into two parts. After osseointegration, (fusion) has occurred, the implant cap will be removed and an ‘abutment’ will be attached to the top of the implant.

Then, depending on whether you’re replacing a single tooth or multiple teeth, either a crown or bridge will be fitted on top of the abutment. The crown or bridge will be carefully prepared to match the colour, shape and size of your natural teeth. These stages may be carried out either together or separately, depending on the complexity of your treatment, but your dentist will be able to advise.

Your dentist will also explain exactly how to care for your implant, and will schedule future appointments to monitor your new implant regularly.

Dental implants are a reliable, long-lasting solution for missing teeth which bring a range of benefits. The procedure is offered by our sister practice in Glastonbury.

If you would like to speak to us about any aspect of your dental care, please contact us today.