Dental implant procedures are separated into multiple steps, depending on the number of implants a patient needs:
Step 1 — Remove the Tooth
If the damaged tooth is still in your mouth, Dr. Nathan Eberle MD, DDS, FACS will extract the tooth. This step is not necessary if your tooth is already missing.
Step 2 — Grafting and Jawbone Preparation
Many patients who undergo implant surgery have thin or soft jawbones. Bone grafting, which improves the quantity of bone, ensures the procedure doesn’t fail. Options include a synthetic bone graft, such as a bone substitute, or a natural graft, which means bone is taken from another area of the patient’s body. The healing process for bone grafts takes a few months before a dental implant can be placed. Fortunately, grafts are not always necessary.
Step 3 — Implant Placement
During the actual procedure, the oral surgeon exposes the bone by cutting the gums with small instruments. An oral surgeon or periodontist drills holes into the bone. Then they position the implant (a post) deep into the bone, which functions as the tooth’s root. If a front tooth is being restored, the dentist will fill in the empty space with a temporary removable solution while the implant heals below the gums. If it is a back tooth, they will not place anything over it.
Step 4 — Healing and Growth
Oseo integration begins after the metal implant is placed in your jawbone. This is when the supporting bone begins to bond with the implant. This process can take several months to complete and ensures the base is sturdy enough to support an artificial tooth (dental crown).
Step 5 — Abutment Placement (Crown Preparation)
After the healing process is complete, your dentist will place an abutment on top of the implant post. The abutment extends the implant above the soft tissue (gums). This step allows for easy placement of the dental crown.
Step 6 — Crown Placement (Artificial Tooth)
Once the implant grows into the bone, and it is strong enough to support chewing, new impressions of your mouth will be made. Then, a custom dental crown will be created. This artificial dental crown looks similar to your natural teeth. The crown sits on top of the abutment (connector) and becomes the only visible part of the implant.
Step 7 — Aftercare
Pain medications and antibiotics are usually prescribed post-op. During the healing process, it is also important to only eat soft foods and practice excellent oral care habits. Restricting the intake of alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco is also essential to see the best results.