What are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is a screw- or cylinder-shaped replacement for a missing tooth. The implant is placed in the jaw bone under the gums and a tooth-like cap (or crown) is then fabricated and connected to the implant to replace the missing tooth.
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How do dental implants work?
The implants are surgically positioned into the jawbone just below your gum line. It allows your dentist to mount the replacement tooth or teeth into that area. As you begin to heal, the implant will fuse with your natural jawbone (the process is called osseointegration), allowing the two to grow together to form a stronger foundation for your replacement tooth.
Will I have a tooth immediately after the implantation?
If the dentist decides that the implant is stable enough immediately after he has placed it in the jaw bone, he can mount the cap on the implant at this time. This is called Immediate Loading of the implant.
However, if joining the cap to the implant immediately following the implantation might compromise the stability of the implant during the healing process (because of chewing forces destabilizing the implant), the dentist will stitch the gums over the implant without mounting the cap. This will allow the bone to heal undisturbed. When a sufficient period of time has passed, the implant can be connected to the tooth-shaped cap. This is called Delayed Loading.
Is the implantation painful?
The first stage of the implantation is local anesthesia, same as for a filling. Once the gums are numb, you don’t feel any discomfort during the procedure.
The dentist has to prepare the implantation site using a relatively slow drill. This may feel to some like an annoying tapping sensation but is quite painless.
How does the dentist place the implant?
After anesthetizing the area, the next step is to penetrate the gums to reach the bone beneath. This can be achieved with a scalpel incision, laser or elecrosurgery.
Using a series of specialized drills, the dentist then prepares an exact cavity in the jaw bone into which the dental implant fits tightly. Most implants today are screw-like, and are screwed into the prepared cavity either using a hand-held or a motor driven wrench.
What will I feel after the implantation?
When the anesthesia wears off, you may feel some discomfort at the implantation site. Some swelling may occur. Painkillers should be taken to alleviate any pain and steroids may be supplemented for swelling, although this is rarely required.
Your dentist may recommend antibiotics and mouth rinses for a few days after the procedure to prevent infection. An especially complex implantation may require a day or two of rest at home. Any recommendations your dentist makes should be followed.