On paper, dental implants may sound scary, but there’s nothing to fear. Dental implants have been a safe, trusted solution in the dental sphere for decades, and have come leaps and bounds since their invention in the 1930s. It is a surgical procedure, and so should be approached with seriousness, but it is one with a very high satisfaction and success rate. On average, most implant patients tend to return to their normal activity within a few short weeks.
If you’re feeling anxious about an upcoming implants procedure, don’t worry. Read on to get all the info you need to feel comfortable and confident, including a walkthrough of the whole procedure.
What are dental implants?
Dental implants are a type of tooth replacement supported by metal rods inserted surgically into your jaw bone. The metal rod acts like the new root of your tooth, and a realistic looking tooth, bridge, or full-arch is attached to the top to help you eat, talk, and smile just like you would with your natural teeth.
What is the procedure for dental implants?
While your individual experience may change depending on the care plan you and your dentist decide on, in general, the procedure tends to follow the following steps:
You’ll discuss your current needs with your dentist, and your dentist will perform an examination of your mouth and teeth. You may have some x-rays taken to check the health of your jaw. From there, you and your dentist will craft a plan that makes sense with your needs and budget.
Additional procedures, if necessary
If your current tooth or teeth are decayed, broken, or otherwise in poor condition, you’ll need to have them removed and the extraction site fully healed before proceeding with the implant procedure. If your jawbone health is compromised, you may also need a bone graft, which is a separate procedure that will also require healing. Sometimes, if the area only needs minor bone grafting, you can have it done on the same day as your implants.
Once you’re ready for your implants, you’ll come into the office for an outpatient procedure — meaning you’ll return home the same day.
Your dentist and care team will likely administer both local anesthesia (via numbing cream and injection) or provide some level of sedation (via pills to be taken orally or medication through an IV) to ensure your total comfort during the procedure. If you have a history of dental anxiety, ask your dentist about what sedation options are available to you.
Your dentist and care team will make an incision into your gum to expose the bone. Then, they will drill holes into your jawbone in which to place the implants. After, the incision in your gum is sewed up with surgical thread.
Your dentist and care team will wake you up from anesthesia and make sure you are comfortable. You may be given a temporary crown to cover your new implant while you wait for it to heal. It is not safe to drive after general anesthesia, so you’ll need to make arrangements with a family member or trusted friend to drive you home.
Before your final crown can be installed, you’ll need your mouth to recover from the initial surgery.
The first phase
Much like any oral surgery, the soft tissues of your mouth need to recover immediately after dental implant surgery. You may have swelling and pain at the site, and your eating habits will change to give your body a chance to heal. Most patients tend to feel better after around two weeks. Depending on the type of stitches your dentist used to close your incision, you may need to return to the office to get them removed.
The second phase
Because dental implants are placed into the bone, there will also be an element of your healing that is more subtle. Essentially, you are waiting for the bone to grow into and around the newly-inserted implant to help stabilize it. This process can take several months, and so you may need to make minor adjustments to your diet to get the best outcome.
Once the first phase of healing is complete, you’re ready for your custom crown, bridge, or full-arch. Your dentist will attach your new false tooth or teeth to the dental implant, and you’ll be all set to enjoy your new permanent denture — and new smile!
Are Dental Implants Safe?
Short answer: Of course! Dental implants as we know them have been used with great success and satisfaction since 1950, but some early implant technology goes back as far as 1913! Dental implants are classified as outpatient procedures, which means the aftercare is considered simple and safe enough for a patient and their caretakers to do at home directly after the surgery.
However, like all medical procedures, there are associated risk factors, including:
- Inflammation of tissues
- Implant failure or rejection
- Damage to adjacent teeth or nerves
These risks can be mitigated with proper pre-op screening and planning by your dentist, correct implant placement, and careful post-op care once you’re home. You can also decrease the likelihood of complications by quitting smoking and improving your oral health.
If it’s pain you’re worried about, be sure to talk to your dentist about their plans for pain management during your dental implant surgery. Your dentist will give you instructions on how to best manage the post-op discomfort by using a combination of prescribed and over-the-counter medications. You should expect some pain and discomfort after the surgery, but being serious about aftercare and recovery can significantly reduce your pain and swelling.
You Deserve to Love Your Smile!
While it’s normal to experience some dental anxiety, the fact of reality is that dental implants are a routine, safe, procedure that thousands of people benefit from each year. Choosing an experienced practice and a dentist you trust, and then having frank conversations with your dentist at each step of the way, can help alleviate any nervous jitters surrounding dental implant safety. As the number one dental implant provider in the US, the doctors at Affordable Dentures & Implants have undergone best-in-class education and training to provide the best, most affordable options to our patients. Read more about our implant services, or give your local Affordable Dentures and Implants location a call to set up a consultation.