31 Aug Dental Implant Surgery: What to Expect Before the Procedure
The dental implant procedure that we know today was first introduced in 1952 by Per-Ingvar Brånemark, a Swedish orthopaedic surgeon. Today, dental implants are deemed the standard care when it comes to replacing missing teeth.
Simply put, a dental implant is a surgical fixture that’s placed into the jawbone. It is allowed to fuse with the bone over a few months. Dental implants also act as replacement tooth roots.
Fusing the dental implant to the jawbone is the closest thing to mimicking the natural tooth because it stands on its own, is really stable, and does not affect any of the teeth nearby.
The fusion process between the jawbone and the dental implant is called osseointegration. Most dental implants nowadays are made of titanium. Titanium is considered ideal as it integrates with the bone without being recognised as a foreign object.
Over the years, science and technology has progressed and has greatly improved the outcome of dental implant replacement. In fact, the success rate of dental implants is a whopping 98 percent!
Who Needs Dental Implants
As mentioned earlier, dental implants can be used to replace one (or more) teeth. The goal of using dental implants is to restore function as well as aesthetics. When it comes to tooth replacement, there are generally three options available at your disposal.
- Removable dental appliance (partial denture or complete denture)
- Fixed dental bridge
- Dental implant
While dentures are considered the most affordable option to replace missing teeth, it’s also considered by many to be the least desirable because of the inconvenience of having a removable appliance in the mouth. In addition, dentures can also affect one’s sensory experience with food.
Prior to dental implant treatment, dental bridgework is considered one of the most prevalent restorative options. The primary downside of bridgework however is dependence on the existing natural teeth for support.
What to Expect Before a Dental Implant Procedure
During the consult and the planning stage, your dental surgeon will visually examine the site where your dental implant will be placed. Your dentist will also look at dental imaging studies like CT scans, panoramic films, or X-rays.
During the visual examination, your dentist will also assess the quality and quantity of your jawbone. This is done to assess if more bone is needed at the site to hold the dental implant in place.
Once your dentist can establish that a dental implant can be placed on the location examined, you will be scheduled to return for the surgical procedure.
During the procedure, you will be given a local anaesthetic to numb the surgical area. Other sedatives might also be given (when needed) to ease your anxiety. The first stage of the dental implant procedure will often involve tooth (or teeth) extraction.
To prepare for dental implant placement, the tooth needs to be extracted. In some cases, an ‘alveolar bone graft’ is done to create a solid base for the implant. The site will then be allowed to heal for two to six months.
If the site has no tooth but there is bone loss, a different bone graft will be placed on top of the existing jawbone. This is called onlay bone graft. The procedure will often involve six (or more) months to heal.
The dental implant (titanium post) is placed in the bone using special tools and drills. A ‘healing cap’ is then placed over the implant. Once the gum is all stitched up, the healing phase begins.
During the healing phase, a temporary denture might be placed to replace the missing teeth. This is also done for aesthetic purposes. Follow-up appointments will also be required to check the surgical site and ensure no infection is taking place.