The dental implants surgery will only begin after any required preliminary procedures are completed and the periodontist determines that the jawbone is ready to receive implants. In most cases, the dental implant procedure will be done over three stages:
- Surgically inserting the dental implant
- Attaching an abutment to the dental implant
- Attaching a crown to the abutment
By the time these three stages are complete the patient will have a brand new fully functioning tooth that feels just as real as any other tooth. In some cases the procedure can be completed in one or two stages, however, there is a higher risk of complications with the implant down the road as it is not given enough time to fuse with the jawbone.
First Stage – Surgically inserting the dental implant
This is the most important stage of the dental implant procedure. In order for the new tooth to function like a real tooth, it needs to have a root that is lodged into the jawbone, giving it the same strength as a natural tooth. In the majority of cases, the implant looks like a tiny screw or cylinder which is made out of titanium due to its superior ability to fuse with natural bone. It will usually take up to 2 hours to complete this procedure which consists of:
- Giving local anesthetic to the patient
- Making an incision into the gum tissue above the area where the implant will be placed
- Drilling a small hole into the area of the jawbone that will receive the implant
- Placing the titanium implant into the drilled hole
- Stitching the gum tissue to cover the titanium post
After this procedure is completed, it will take up to 6 months for the titanium post to completely osseointegrate with the bone, making it as strong as a natural tooth root. In the meantime, a removable prosthetic tooth may be supplied for aesthetic purposes and to eliminate any forces that can disrupt the osseointegration process.
Second Stage – Attaching the abutment
Once the titanium implant has fused with the surrounding jawbone and the dentist believes it is strong enough to support a new tooth, the patient will need to return for a second operation to attach an abutment to the implant.
An abutment is essentially a post that attached to the implant, protrudes through the gum tissue and ultimately connects the implant and the dental crown. This is a simple procedure which involves:
- Making an incision in the gum tissue once again to expose the implant
- Attaching the abutment to the implant
- Stitching the gum tissue around the abutment
It will take a few weeks for the gum tissue to completely heal before the final stage can be completed. During this waiting period, the crown will be custom made for that perfect fit.
Final Stage – Attaching the crown
To finalize the procedure and give the patient a new prosthetic tooth that not only looks real but feels natural as well, one more visit to the dentist is required where the dentist will attach the dental crown to the abutment, restoring the damaged smile once and for all. This crown must be cared for in the same way that a natural tooth would be taken care of.