What To Expect: Dental Implants -
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Are you missing a tooth? This is a common problem among Americans, but there’s still some mystery surrounding the dental procedure that fixes the problem. It’s normal to feel a bit nervous when your dentist recommends an implant. Here’s what you can expect from the procedure.
Before you can move ahead with the implant surgery, your dentist will put you through an examination process. This is to ensure that you’re a good candidate for the procedure.
The examination process will include an x-ray of your jaw. Your dentist needs to make sure that you have enough bone in your jaw to support the implant. Sometimes, you’ll be able to get these x-rays done at the dentist’s office, but in other cases, the dentist will need higher quality images. If that happens, you’ll be sent to a radiologist to get a CT scan. CT scans provide a 3D image of your teeth and jaw, but expose you to more radiation than regular x-ray machines do.
A dental implant is a significant surgery, so it can’t usually be done in one appointment. Most dentists will perform the surgery in three separate appointments. Some dentists will do the procedure in one appointment, but the dental implant is more likely to fail.
In the first appointment, the base of the implant will be installed. This base is attached to your jawbone, since it is replacing your old tooth root. It is then buried underneath the gums, which keeps the base safe until your next appointment. You’ll be sent home to heal, which can take a couple of months, since bone doesn’t heal quickly.
When you go back to the dentist, your gums will be cut back to expose the base. The dentist will check to make sure it was successfully attached. If the dentist is satisfied with the base, he or she will attach a post to the base. This post sticks up through your gums, and will later be used to attach your replacement tooth. Again, you’ll be sent home to heal.
Finally, it will be time for your third and last appointment. In this appointment, the dentist will check to make sure the base and post are completely healed. If they are, a prosthetic tooth will be attached to the post.
Dental implants take a long time to heal. The procedure is invasive, so expect your recovery to take between two and four months. During this time, expect pain and swelling in the area around your new implant. Good dental hygiene and regular visits to your dentist can make your recovery easier. It’s also important to not smoke during your recovery period, since this will make your implant more likely to fail.
The procedure and healing process may sound unpleasant, but they’re worth it. Dental implants can last a long time, so you won’t have to go through this again anytime soon. 96.8% of implants are still in place after 5 years.
After about 10 years, they will probably need some maintenance. Your prosthetic tooth is made of porcelain, so over time, it will get discolored or even crack. Fortunately, this can be easily fixed. The dentist won’t have to repeat the entire surgical procedure, since the base and post should still be in good shape. The prosthetic tooth can be replaced with a new one in one appointment.
Now that you know what to expect, make an appointment with your dentist to get the process started. Once the dental implant is installed, it will last a long time, making any temporary discomfort worth it.
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