Steps in the Dental Implant Process
First, let’s start with an overview of the process of getting the best tooth replacement option, so you can get a feel for how it all fits together. This can also let you skip down to the part of the process that you’re most interested in. These steps are:
- Consultation and planning
- Gum disease treatment and tooth extraction (conditional)
- Bone graft (conditional)
- Dental implant placement
- Placement of temporary restoration (conditional)
- Abutment placement (conditional)
- Final restoration placement
The entire process will take months to complete. However, most people won’t ever need to be without a complete, beautiful smile.
What conditional steps are necessary in your procedure will depend on your oral health. In some cases, we will be able to tell you they are necessary during planning. However, other times we will have to add conditional steps in response to how things are going.
Step 1: Consultation and Planning
Your dental implant process begins when you schedule a consultation with a Wichita Falls implant dentist. In fact, we recommend that you schedule consultations with more than one dentist. The implant process is very important, so it’s a good idea to make sure you’re working with the best dentist for you.
During your consultation, we will evaluate your oral health. At a minimum, this will include a detailed examination of your mouth. However, it may also include one or more X-rays. Often, a CT scan is recommended to help plan your procedure. This 3D x-ray lets us look at your jawbone structure in detail to minimize surprises.
CT-guided dental implants let us decide on the precise placement of your dental implant or implants. We’ll also have a good idea of which conditional steps you might need in your implant procedure. We may also create custom surgical guides to help ensure accurate placement for your dental implants.
Step 2: Gum Disease Treatment and Tooth Extraction (Conditional)
Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults in America, and it’s also the leading cause of dental implant failure. If you lost (or are losing) teeth to gum disease, we want to make sure it’s treated before we place your dental implants.
Sometimes, treating gum disease requires that we extract compromised teeth. However, if you haven’t had your teeth extracted before, it’s often best to extract teeth at the time of your implant placement.
Step 3: Bone Graft (Conditional)
Dental implants need strong, healthy bone to support them. If you don’t have enough bone at the places where we want to put your dental implants, we might recommend a bone graft.
Although we can sometimes do a bone graft at the time of your dental implant placement, we may want to do it as a separate procedure. This is most often necessary for people who lost significant bone to gum disease and those who lost teeth a long time before getting dental implants. When we do a bone graft as a separate procedure, you may have to wait months for your grafts to heal before your Wichita Falls implant dentist will place your dental implant.
Step 4: Dental Implant Placement
Dental implant placement might start with the extraction of compromised natural teeth. Often, the implant can go right into the socket left by the extracted tooth, though it may require a little bone graft to fill in around it (implants are narrower than natural teeth roots).
If you do not have teeth to extract at this time, your implant dentist may start with small incisions to expose the bone where the implant will go. Sometimes, dental implants can go directly into the jawbone without any prior preparation.
The actual placement of dental implants is relatively simple for our well-trained and experienced implant dentists. Surgical guides and other advanced approaches make the procedure even easier. The procedure to place a single implant may not take much more than an hour. It’s possible to place an entire mouth of implants in a single day. However, we might want to space the procedure out, doing just one arch (top or bottom) at a time.
Step 5: Placement of Temporary Restoration (Conditional)
Once our Wichita Falls implant dentist places your implants, they will evaluate the implant’s stability. If the implants are stable enough, they will give you an immediate temporary restoration: the dental crown, bridge, or denture that replaces the visible part of your lost teeth.
If your implants aren’t stable enough for this, we may place a healing abutment. This small piece connects to the implant root and preserves space for your replacement tooth or teeth when it’s time to place them.
In a few cases, the implant might not be very stable and might need maximum protection while healing. When that happens, your implant dentist will cover the implant with your gums so it can heal without being affected by outside forces.
Step 6: Healing
Dental implant healing takes several months. In this process, your body is removing old bone and replacing it with new bone. When the implant goes in, it squeezes the bone to create mechanical stability–just like a screw in wood. The body will remove this pressured bone and replace it with new bone. The new bone will attach directly to the dental implant. When healing is complete, the implant will be essentially part of your jawbone.
Over the course of healing, your implant might become less stable before it becomes more stable. Although you should be able to bite and chew normally, we’ll let you know how to minimize stress on your implant during this transition.
Step 7: Abutment Placement (Conditional)
If you didn’t get a temporary restoration or a healing abutment immediately after implant placement, your dentist will need to place an abutment when your implant finishes healing. This requires minor surgery.
Your dentist will open your gums to expose the implant and verify that it’s stable now. Then they will place a healing abutment on the implant. This allows the gums to heal and preserves space for your final restoration.
Step 8: Final Restoration Placement
Once healing is complete, it’s time to get your final implant restoration. The new crown, bridge, or denture will fit precisely in your mouth, creating a healthy bite with your natural teeth or other implants.
The final restorations utilize the latest developments in cosmetic dentistry to give a natural-looking smile that can be indistinguishable from natural teeth.
This restoration is also made to last. Depending on the quality of the restoration you choose and how well you care for it, this restoration can last from 10-30 years or more.
Start the Dental Implant Process in Wichita Falls
If you are ready to see for yourself the difference dental implants can make, you should start the dental implant process today. All it takes is a consultation.
Please contact StarImage Dentistry today by calling 940-322-2252 to schedule your consultation with our Wichita Falls implant dentists.