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What Happens During a Dental Implant Procedure?

A dentist checking tooth implants.
An illustration of a dental implant with a titanium abutment.
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  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 20 April 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A dental implant procedure involves replacing a damaged or missing tooth with an artificial tooth that looks and works like a normal tooth. It requires surgically placing dental implants inside the jawbone. These implants function as roots of the missing teeth.

The jawbone fuses with the metal in the implants so that the implants remain secure, cause no damage to bones, and do not make noise. When the metal cylinder is placed inside the jawbone, a small metal post called an abutment is fastened on top of it. Finally, a crown or artificial tooth is placed on the abutment. This, in turn, creates the appearance of a natural tooth.

A dentist may recommend a dental implant procedure if the patient does not want to wear dentures and has one or more missing teeth. It may also be recommended for those who have difficulty speaking because of missing teeth. The surgery is beneficial to those who have a fully grown jawbone, have enough bone to support the implants, do not have health problems that will interfere with bone healing, and have healthy oral tissues. Patients must realize that the implant process requires several months.

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Anesthesia is given to patients in order to control the pain during a dental implant procedure. Forms of anesthesia may include local anesthesia, sedation, or general anesthesia. The dental surgeon then cuts open the gum in order to expose the bone. A drill is used to create holes inside the bone. Next, a dental implant cylinder is placed within the opening.

The cylinder functions as a root for the tooth, and a temporary denture or partial is placed inside the mouth. After the placement of the cylinder, the jawbone fuses with the dental implant, a process that requires two to six months. When enough time has passed, the gum is reopened in order to expose the implant so that an abutment may be attached to it. The surgeon then closes the gum tissue around the abutment.

Once the abutment is placed, the gums are allowed to heal for a couple of weeks. When the gums are healed, impressions are made from the mouth and any natural teeth. Artificial teeth or crowns are created from these impressions.

The artificial teeth are then attached to the abutment. Following surgery, patients may experience bruising, pain, bleeding, and swelling. If these problems worsen or persist, the surgeon should be notified as soon as possible.

As with any surgical procedure, a dental implant procedure comes with certain risks. For example, following dental implant surgery, a patient may get an infection at the site where the implant was placed. The surgery can sometimes cause nerve damage as well.

Nerve damage can cause numbness or pain in the gums, natural teeth, chin, or lips. Surrounding teeth or blood vessels can suffer damage following dental implant surgery. A person may even develop sinus problems if the implants placed in the jaw invade one of the sinus cavities.

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