What to expect during your first dental implant procedure

Dental implant surgery is the process by which metal posts are inserted into your jawbone in order to replace missing (or damaged) teeth. This process allows artificial teeth to be anchored, which function like your real teeth. The procedure itself can be take a great deal of time depending on your jawbone density, the health of your gums, and the type of implant you need.

Why do it?

Dental implants are used because they best imitate the roots of teeth and allow for artificial teeth that are unlikely to slip, cause damage, or fall out during use. Dentures and bridges are other procedures with similar outcomes, but that don’t provide nearly the support that dental implants do. Some common reasons why dental implants might be right for you include:

* Missing teeth

* Healthy jawbone

* Don’t require a bone graft

* Healthy gums

* Lack of health conditions that would interfere with healing

Are there risks?

All surgery has risks. Dental implant surgery is no different. Some risks that have been associated with this kind of procedure include:

* Infection

* Injury (or damage) to other teeth or blood vessels

* Nerve damage

* Sinus problems

How do I prepare myself?

Getting dental implants means that your jawbone density is sufficient to support the procedure, and that you have healthy gums. However, there are some things that need to be completed prior to the procedure, such as:

* A comprehensive dental exam, including x-rays

* A treatment plan

* Inform the dentist of medical conditions and prescriptions

* Decide on the type of pain relief used during the procedure

What can I expect?

The process might entail removing a potentially damaged tooth, if that was the reason for the dental implant surgery. In addition, a bone graft may be necessary if your jawbone is not ready to support the procedure. Expect the entire procedure to take several months, including periods of healing between the insertion of the implant, the abutment, and then the tooth and crown.

The Dental Implant

During the procedure, your gums are cut open, holes are drilled into the bone, and the post for the dental implant is placed. Once the implant is inserted, osseointegration begins. This is the process by which the jawbone grows into the dental implant. Once osseointegration has finished, another surgery is required for the placement of the abutment, which is where the crown and artificial tooth will be placed.

What can I expect post-procedure?

Once the dental implant surgery is complete and you have healed, you can expect to experience some pain and discomfort. Some common issues that arise include:

* Swelling

* Bruising

* Pain

* Bleeding

If these symptoms persist, you should contact the surgeon and alert them to what is happening. Continued pain may necessitate medication for pain and antibiotics for infections. Throughout the surgery phases, you should limit yourself to soft foods until the surgery site heals completely.

Take-home message

Dental implant surgery has a very high success rate, though an implant sometimes fails to fuse correctly. Things like smoking and failing to maintain proper oral hygiene can result in problems with the implant and potential complications. Unfortunately, in that scenario, the implant would need to be removed, the bone cleaned, and the procedure repeated (if desired) in a few months. There are a few things you can do to ensure that the implant is successful, such as:

* Daily oral health. Just like brushing and flossing daily is important, doing so with an implant and artificial tooth lowers the probability of complications. Keeping the gum tissue clear of particulates is important to make sure the implant site is not infected. An electric toothbrush is helpful to get between the teeth, gums, and the implant itself.

* Schedule regular dental visits. It is important to make sure you have dental check-ups in order to ensure that the implants are functioning properly and that your gums are healthy.

* Avoid chewing hard objects that can break the artificial tooth and its crown. Additionally, stay clear of tobacco products, as they can increase the risk of a periodontal disease. If you grind your teeth, alert your dentist in order to get treatment.

Dental implant surgery can help improve your quality of life. Be certain to appropriately research oral surgeons and prepare yourself for a long procedure and recovery.

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