Dental Implants: How They Work

Dental Implants: How They Work

Dental implants can be used to replace missing teeth and help preserve your longterm oral health. Here, our Ottawa dentists explain the dental implant procedure step by step, and what kind of a timeline you can expect.

Injuries, accidents, and diseases can lead to tooth loss in some cases. Dental implants are ideal for replacing missing teeth because they mimic appearance and function of a natural tooth very closely.

Replacing missing teeth is important for your oral health. Without a replacement tooth, the remaining teeth may shift and the surrounding bone may start to deteriorate, causing a host of dental issues.

How do dental implants work?

Placing a dental implant is an oral surgery procedure that can be performed by your dentist, and takes several steps to complete.

An implant consists of two pieces that each require a surgical procedure:

  1. A titanium rod, shaped like a screw, is placed into the jaw bone and functions like the root of the tooth.
  2. An abutment is a piece that screws into the dental implant, upon which the artificial tooth will attach later.

Once the dental implant is placed in your jawbone a tooth replacement, such as a crown or bridge, is attached to the abutment. 

How do I know if a dental implant is right for me?

Your dentist will complete a comprehensive examination of your teeth and gums including a complete medical history. After careful assessment, your dentist can determine if dental implants are the right option for you.

Healthy gums and a healthy jawbone are needed to support the implants! To benefit from dental implants, you must be in good health and have a fully developed and healthy jawbone.

What is the dental implant procedure?

Dental implant surgery may be performed in several steps depending upon the kind of implant you’re getting and the health of your jawbone. Listed below are step by step procedures and approximate timelines for each step.  

Step 1: Remove the Damaged Tooth

If the damaged tooth is still in place, it will be removed.

Step 2: Prepare the Jawbone for Surgery

Depending on the structure of your jawbone, you may need a little extra bone added to give the implant site a more solid foundation. This process, called bone grafting, will require healing time before the implant is placed. 

Without a strong jawbone in place, the implant won’t take, so it’s important to be patient during the healing process.

Step 3: Place the Implant

The implant is surgically placed within the jawbone and is covered over with gum tissue. Once the implant is inserted the process requires time for the jawbone to heal tightly around the dental implant area, making it a part of the natural gumline.

It can take three to six months to allow for the implant to integrate into the jawbone.  It is important to follow the post-surgery instructions to aid the healing process.  

Step 4: Place the Abutment

Once the jaw has healed, the abutment (the piece that screws into the implant) will be placed in your jaw. To place the abutment, the oral surgeon will reopen your gums so that the dental implant is exposed. Once exposed, the abutment is attached to the implant. The gum tissue is then closed back around the abutment and left to heal for one to two weeks.

Step 5: Attach the Crown

Once your gums have healed, more impressions will be made of your mouth so they can be used to make the crown, or artificial tooth, for the dental implant. Your customized crown will then be attached to the abutment and the full implant is complete. 

To learn more about dental implants, request an appointment with our Ottawa dentists.

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