Dental implants are one option to restore your smile when you have lost one or several teeth. In some instances, people prefer implants over dentures because they are more stable, but the process of getting implants is lengthier and more expensive. You should expect a process involving multiple steps, which can take several months to complete.
Depending on the current state of your teeth and gums, you might need significant dental care before the process of having dental implants can begin. If you have damaged or decayed teeth, these will need to be extracted if you plan to get full implants. For people who only want partial implants, some of the damaged teeth might be repaired instead of extracted. Gum health is important for implant success. If you currently have gum disease, you will need to go through a rehabilitation program. This involves deep cleanings to remove tartar. As the inflammation resolves, the pockets under the gum line will disappear. Another part of preparation might be the need to have bone grafting. This is more likely to occur in people who have many missing teeth. If there is not sufficient bone to support an implant, bone grafting will be necessary to start the implant process.
Once it's determined your oral health is suitable to begin the implant process, your dentist will need to place the abutments, which are pieces of metal implanted in the jaw bone. The top of the abutment stays above the gums and serves as an anchor for the implants. Placing abutments can also be a lengthy process because the bone needs to heal around the metal before the final implants can be placed. How long the process takes will depend on the rate of healing, and if there are any problems along the way that compromise healing, such as infection, healing may take upwards of six months. Some people that have impaired healing, such as diabetics, may need more healing time and additional measures to reduce their risk of infection.
Some patients will go home with a temporary crown or implant to cover the abutment as it heals. This will depend on the current integrity of the bone and whether it is capable of handling the extra weight of the prosthetic without compromising healing. While waiting for the bone to heal, your dentist will design the final implants based on imaging of your mouth. Since dental imaging is far more precise, the final implants are typically more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing than before. If you have individual implants, they will be screwed onto the abutment. Full implants click into place on the abutment. Like natural teeth, implants require good oral hygiene and regular dental visits; otherwise, the implant could fail in the future.
The decision to have dental implants can be difficult because the process is lengthy. However, the final results often make the process worth the wait. Look into dental implant restoration services to learn more.