In this post I would like to take a little time to explain the different stages in the dental implant procedure. Sometimes friends and family ask me questions about different dental procedures and as the words get bigger and the procedure more complicated, it seems like their eyes glaze over, and before long I’m pretty sure they aren’t listening anymore. I know I can get pretty techie, and lots of dental procedures, even basic ones, often involve lots of steps and lots of technical terms. So this time I want to pay extra special attention to speaking in clear, non-technical language, so that even someone who has never heard of dental implants before, might be able to understand the basics of the procedure, the different options involved, and what to expect in the long term. To do this, I will explain the process in two parts. First, I want to discuss the steps and timeline. Second, I’ll explain the different parts of the actual implant (most people do not realize that the actual implant is only one piece of the larger puzzle!).
Regarding the implant steps and timeline, I want to talk about four main steps. The first is a consultation and an examination of the health of your gums and jawbone. This is the time when I will make sure you are a good candidate for dental implants, and it is also the perfect time for you to voice any concerns, worries, or general questions regarding your health and also the associated costs of the procedure.
Once we have determined that you are a good fit, the next step is the dental surgery. You will be placed under anesthesia so there shouldn’t be any discomfort during the surgery. The implant will be anchored into your jawbone and gum tissue, and a temporary denture, kind
of like a retainer, will be fitted. You will use this temporary restorative until the implant has “taken”. What happens is, in the next three to six months, the implant will fuse with your bone and gum tissue. This is called osseointegration, and once it happens, your implants are ready to be fitted with your dental restoration. Which leads us to the second part of this blog, what is a dental restoration, and what are the other parts of the dental implant process?
Implants basically have three parts: the fixture, the abutment, and the prosthesis (also known as the dental restoration). The fixture is the actual implant, which is something no one will ever see. The fixture is basically a titanium or titanium alloy screw that is fitted through the gum tissue, into the bone. The living bone tissue then fuses with this screw over the next few months. The second part of the implant is the abutment. This is screwed onto the fixture, at the gum line, once the fixture is fused with the jawbone. The abutment is made to hold the third part of the implant, which is the prosthesis. For most patients, this is really the most important part. This is the part that makes chewing comfortable, and this is the part that makes your smile look nice and healthy.
When it comes to the prosthesis there are a number of options from which the patient can choose, depending on what they would like to spend and what works best for their situation. For patients that have lost a number of teeth, the most cost-effective option is to have your dentist implant fixtures on each side of the jaw, and then have a denture that attaches to these implants. This is much more stable than regular dentures, and doesn’t slide on the gums. The downside is, you still have to take them out and clean them, and you shouldn’t sleep with it.
Paul L. Caputo, DDS3490 E Lake Rd S Suite A