When you have lost a tooth due to disease, decay, or an accident that knocked it out, you most likely want to get the gap in your mouth filled. You may consider a false tooth or partial bridge, but more and more people are turning to dental implants. A dental implant is permanent, and having a dental implant can help prevent bone loss in your jaw after a natural tooth is removed. If you're planning to get a dental implant, you can expect the following:
Prior to dental implant surgery, your dentist will do a full examination of your mouth and gums. X-rays will be taken to determine the state of your jaw. If your jaw bone has become soft or lost bone density, you may need a bone graft before the dental implant can be placed.
Placement of the Implant
If you do not need a bone graft, your first surgery will involve having the implant placed in your jaw. Your jaw will be drilled, and a post, typically made of titanium, will be placed in the hole. After the implant is placed, there will be a few months between surgeries while your jaw bone fuses and grows around the titanium implant.
Healing Collar and Temporary Crown
After your dentist determines that the implant has firmly fused into place, you will return to the office to have a healing collar placed. A healing collar is a small piece of metal that attaches to the implant and prevents your gums from growing over the top of the implant. Your dentist will monitor the healing of the gums after the healing collar is placed, and when the gums are completely healed an abutment will be connected to the implant.
An abutment is often made of gold, titanium, or porcelain, and the crown is attached to the abutment. After the abutment is placed, your dentist will most likely attach a temporary crown while your permanent crown is being made.
Placement of Permanent Crown
Your permanent crown, which will look just like a natural tooth, will either be cemented or screwed on to the abutment. After the permanent crown is placed, your implant process will be complete and it should not need any extra maintenance-- just make sure to brush and floss like normal, and see your dentist on a regular basis for cleanings. Depending on the state of your jaw bone and how fast your gum heals, you can expect the who dental implant process to take several months.