So the time has come to replace or fill in that missing tooth. Dentists use a procedure called Dental Implants, in which titanium fixtures and crowns take the place of natural teeth.
Seems pretty basic – just fill in that empty space with a tooth, right? Well there is a lot more involved. Lets take a look at a step by step procedure for your new tooth.
Planning for Dental Implants
Before the surgery takes place, there has to be careful planning to make sure the tooth fits just right and what conditions are needed so that it is happy with the rest of your teeth. To plan precisely for dental implants, radiographs are often taken as well as a CT scan.
Sometimes dentists will use 3D software to generate a computer image of your mouth. After these tests, a stent may be used to temporarily fill in the gap. A stent is basically a plastic wafer that sits over the gap or gaps with pre-drilled holes to determine where the new tooth or teeth will be placed. These stents are usually created from the 3D version of your mouth which could be expensive.
Procedure for Placing Dental Implants
To make sure the placement of a new tooth is just right, high speed precision drills are used to prepare the bone. These drills are high speed to prevent burning and pressure. After a time period to let the bone grow onto the surface of the implant, the crown can be mounted. The amount of time for this varies depending on the surgeon, the difficulty of the position and the quality of the bone.
Most of the time a slice or incision is made on the spot of the new tooth. This can be referred to as the flap. Sometimes the procedures are “flapless,” which basically means that instead of a cut, a hole is punched in the site. Some believe that flapless surgery has better recovery time while others believe it can have more complications down the road due to not being able to see the tooth under the gum unlike the flap method. Computer imagery is used more often than not during flapless to see that hidden part.
Healing Time from Dental Implant Placement
After your new implant is inserted, dentists wait for the tooth to be whats called osseointegrated. It varies how much time this takes so that it is ready for placing the restoration.
Two to six months is the general amount of healing time allowed although sometimes it may not take that long. If the new tooth is placed too soon, there is the chance that it can move which is considered an implant failure. For most implants which involves the whole process of healing, possible grafting and new implant may take up to 18 months. It’s not wise to speed the healing.
Remember that getting a new tooth or teeth placed in your mouth is not a simple task and requires much planning and healing. “Talk to your dentist about all of the issues involved that need addressing such as pricing, quality and your personal mouth situation,” says Dr. Travis Agee, DMD, a Portland, OR dentist.