Dental implants are a treatment option to replace one or more missing teeth. Implants are a permanent option to replace single or multiple missing teeth since they are anchored into the jaw bone. Dental implants can enhance the way you chew and the appearance of your smile, boosting your confidence.
The dental implant process
Dental implants are a team effort by dentists and dental technicians, and thus the following process will be followed:
Your dentist at All Smiles Dentist will conduct an examination of your mouth and take x-rays do evaluate the health and strength of the jawbone.
A local anaesthetic will then be administered so that the area is numbed for the abutment part of the implant. Your dentist will then make a small incision and place the implant screw into the jawbone. Healing may take approximately 6 – 12 weeks. Your dentist will also then take impressions of your mouth and choose the shade, shape and size of the crown, denture or bridge that will be made by the dental technicians in the meantime.
While we wait for your implant's abutment to heal the dental technicians will make your prosthetic tooth. After this a healing abutment will be placed to protect the abutment and prepare the gum for a prosthetic tooth. The abutment may take a few months to bond with the jawbone (osseointegrate).
Once the dental technicians have made your crown the healing abutment is removed and the tooth replacement or prosthesis - be it a crown, bridge or denture - is secured onto the implant's abutment that is now fixed into the jawbone.
When is bone augmentation needed for dental implants?
Since they are anchored into the jaw bone, for them to hold successfully, a health jawbone is an important deciding factor on whether or not you are a candidate for dental implants. Your dentist will evaluate your mouth and jawbone with x-rays, and if the bone density is found to be insufficient, bone augmentation may be done to strengthen the bone structure before placing implants. By placing a bone graft material into the existing bone to allow new bone tissue to develop.
How is bone augmentation done?
In most cases, your dentist would prefer to do bone augmentation immediately after extracting the tooth since the bone is already exposed. In cases where time has passed since losing the tooth, bone grafting would be done under general anaesthetic by your specialist dentist at All Smiles Dentist. By making an incision into the gum and exposing the bone beneath it, a bone graft containing collagen and proteins that encourage bone growth is attached, and the gum is closed with stitches.
This may involve one of two types of bone grafts:
- A sinus lift – this bone grafting procedure is done to increase the height of the bone in the upper jaw.
- An alveolar ridge expansion – by widening the bone in the upper jaw with a graft the upper jaw can support an implant.
Depending on the condition of the existing bone, the new bone may take up to 9 months to grow and develop enough to support an implant. This process is called osseodensification.