Dental implant surgery is used to replace one or more missing teeth. The procedure is necessary when the entire tooth structure has been removed or is congenitally missing.
The procedure takes several months and multiple dental visits to complete. The first step is to determine the health of the jaw bone. This can be determined through examination and dental x-rays. The dentist will evaluate the width and the strength of the bone before deciding on when to begin the dental implant process. If necessary, bone grafting can be completed to aid in the success of the dental implant. When the bone has completed healed from the bone grafting procedure, the dental implant can be placed.
The first phase of the implant surgery involves the placement of the titanium cylinder that will act as the root structure. The gum tissue will be opened and the implant will be placed drilled into the jaw bone. The tissue will then be closed using sutures and a period of three to six months will pass while the bone and titanium implant fuse.
When the bone has completely healed the abutment will be placed. To place the abutment the dentist will open the gum tissue to expose the implant. The abutment will be screwed into the implant and the gum tissue will be closed around, but not on top of, the abutment. It is sometimes possible to place the implant and the abutment in the same visit, eliminating this step in the process. After this procedure the metal rod onto which the artificial tooth will be placed will be visible.
The gum tissue and the bone must be allowed to heal prior to the placement of the artificial tooth. It is because of this that many people prefer to complete this procedure in two phases, which reduces the amount of time that the abutment is visible. When the gum tissue and bone have completely healed and can withstand biting force, the crown will be placed.
The dentist will obtain impressions of area and the crown will be fabricated to match the existing teeth and space. At the final visit, the crown will be permanently cemented to the abutment. Regular dental visits and routine dental care will ensure that the bone and tissue surrounding the implant remain healthy.