An Overview Of Dental Implant Surgery
For decades, dentures have been the most common tooth replacement option. Recently, dental implants are being recommended by dentists more often due to their permanence and natural appearance. Here is an overview of dental implant surgery to help you decide if the procedure is right for you.
Installing the Implant
The base of a dental implant is a titanium rod that is inserted into the jawbone beneath the gums where a tooth is missing. Like the roots of your natural teeth, this rod will keep the artificial crown anchored to your jawbone. The titanium implant fuses to the jawbone through a process known as osseointegration. This stimulates the gum and jawbone to slow the rate at which they recede, making it less likely that you will lose additional teeth later in life.
In the first stage of dental implant surgery, the oral surgeon will apply local anesthetic and use a scalpel to create an incision in the gums where you are missing a tooth. The gum tissue is then folded back to expose the jawbone, and a small drill is used to make a hole in the bone large enough for the implant to be installed in. After the implant is placed, the surgeon folds the gums back over the bone and stitches them together.
Fitting the Abutment
Once the implant has had a few months to heal, you will return to the oral surgeon for the second stage of surgery. The surgeon will open the gums again and inspect the implant to make sure it has fused to the jawbone properly. If it has healed and fused as planned, it will be time to place an abutment on top of the implant.
The abutment is the portion of the implant that juts through the gums and holds the crown in place. Abutments can be made of titanium like the implant itself, or they can be made from other materials such as gold and porcelain. The abutment simply screws into the top of the implant, and then the gums are pushed against the base of the abutment to heal.
Molding and Placing the Temporary Crown
Usually during the same visit that the abutment is installed, the dentist will make a mold of one of your natural teeth to use as a template for both the temporary and permanent crown. The temporary crown is made first from a soft material such as aluminum or dental composite. Until your gums are fully healed, the temporary crown will be placed over the abutment to protect it from the forces of chewing.
A soft cement is used to attach the temporary crown to the abutment. When it is time to install the permanent crown, the oral surgeon can use a solvent to dissolve the cement and remove the temporary crown. Wearing a temporary crown while your gums heal will also help to protect them from bacteria and keep adjacent teeth in place so that there is room for the permanent crown.
Attaching the Permanent Crown
Within a few weeks of placing the abutment and temporary crown, your implant will be ready for its permanent crown. The permanent crown is made from a harder material such as porcelain or ceramic. These materials are excellent tooth replacements because they match the color and luster of dental enamel almost perfectly and are as strong as your natural teeth. The oral surgeon will attach the permanent crown using small screws or a permanent dental cement.
Dental implant surgery is a safe and relatively simple process. Consider dental implants if you want the most permanent and natural-looking tooth replacement option. For more information on dental implants, contact a dental office like Gordon Dental.