Oral surgery is rarely an anxiety-free event, and this stress can often make an appearance for those anticipating dental implant surgery. By conducting a bit of background research in advance, however, it is easy to diminish these feelings of unease about your upcoming dental implant procedure. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the three stages of receiving a dental implant, including what happens before, during, and after the procedure. After reading, we hope you’ll feel more confident in your decision to opt into a dental prosthetic. If you have further questions or concerns about dental implants or dental care in general, please feel free to contact Federal Hill Smiles in Baltimore today! 

Before the Dental Implant Surgery

You may be interested in a dental implant for any number of reasons, whether it’s to correct the aftermath of a jaw injury or to improve the appearance of your smile. Regardless of the motivating factor behind your interest, every dental implant surgery will be preceded by stages of consultation and planning. 

You’ll first meet with a dental surgeon to receive a visual examination of your mouth and teeth. X-rays and panoramic images will be taken, as this gives your doctor a better understanding of your dental architecture and how an implant can accommodate the structure. In the majority of cases, patients do not run into major issues (e.g. insufficient bone mass or poor quality of dental health), but if any problems do arise, your dental surgeon will likely have a variety of options and viable alternatives. 

The next stage of dental implant surgery typically requires your surgeon to extract one or more teeth. Prior to any surgical procedure, you’ll receive localized anesthesia to the targeted site, and you may receive a mild sedative to reduce anxiety and help you feel more relaxed. If you do need to have a tooth or multiple teeth extracted, your dental surgeon may perform an alveolar bone graft after the removal. This “synthetic bone” acts as a sturdy base that mimics your natural teeth and provides a foundation to which the implant can connect. Depending on the condition of your teeth at the time of the procedure, an alternative procedure called an onlay bone graft may be necessary; this graft is placed on top of the jawbone rather than onto a tooth socket.

Alveolar bone grafts generally take about two to six months to heal. Onlay bone grafts have a longer recovery time, usually lasting for no less than a minimum of six months. In some situations where a patient has sufficient bone present, an extraction and an “immediate implant” may be conducted during the same appointment.

After a sufficient amount of time has elapsed, you’ll revisit your dental surgeon so they can determine whether the graft has produced adequately durable bone. If this is the case, the dental implant surgery will soon follow.

During the Dental Implant Surgery 

Following appropriate application of anesthetics and (if applicable) sedatives, your dental surgeon will drill a titanium post into the site of the implant. Titanium is used because the metal fuses with your natural bone over time, creating a natural and sustainable connection between body and implant. 

After the titanium implant has been installed, a cap will be placed over the post to facilitate healing. Surrounding gum tissue will also be stitched up, most likely with dissolvable thread that naturally breaks down over the course of several weeks. Following the surgery, you can anticipate a recovery phase of approximately two to six months before the implant is fully healed. Your dental surgeon will schedule follow-up appointments during this period to ensure that the implant is healing, free of infection, and fusing correctly with your teeth and jawbone.

After the Dental Implant Surgery

When the recovery phase ends, you will revisit your oral surgeon to see whether the dental implant has successfully fused with the underlying bone. The penultimate step of the surgery is the placement of a prosthetic called an “abutment.” This is screwed into the dental implant and acts as a holding component for the final phase, during which a replacement tooth or crown is affixed to the top of the other implants. Your surgeon will take molds of your mouth and the abutment in order to make sure everything fits properly and the implant crown is ready to be secured to the prosthetic beneath it.

Considering Risks and Complications

Any surgery carries certain potential risk factors, and dental implants are no exception. Bleeding disorders and infections can occur but are not common. Those with pre-existing medical conditions or pharmaceutical prescriptions may be at higher risk of complications, but the vast majority of implant procedures are successful when performed by a qualified oral surgeon.

The most important factor in the long-term success of your dental implant surgery will depend upon the expertise of the medical specialist performing the procedure. At Federal Hill Smiles in Baltimore, we provide top-quality services in dental care and surgery, so if you’re considering a dental implant, whether for functional or cosmetic purposes, you can rest assured that your health is in good hands when you partner with our team of medical professionals and dental hygienists. Contact us today for more information!