Dental implants are often the best solution for missing or damaged teeth. The procedure gives you the most realistic prosthetic teeth with long-lasting results, making them a popular choice for tooth restoration. The benefits of dental implants go beyond just the obvious improved outward cosmetic appearances. Dental implants provide improved oral health benefits, help support adjacent teeth and help to stop the loss of bone that occurs with missing teeth.
The procedure provides a new root and tooth that mimic your natural teeth and permanently solves tooth loss issues. While it is a multi-step process, the results are generally far superior to other options such as dentures and bridges.
Even though it can take over a year to complete, the procedures required are typically performed in Dr. Hogan’s office and require minimum time away from work. If you want to explore dental implants, it helps to understand the dental implant process.
- Dental implants are a permanent solution to tooth loss.
- From start to finish, the dental implant process can take a year or longer because the gum tissue and jaw must heal between each procedure.
- Once in place, the new tooth (teeth) will look, act, and feel like your natural teeth.
- The time it takes to complete the processdepends on many factors, such as the need for pre-surgical work, your health, and the time it takes to heal between procedures.
The Initial Consultation
Although dental implants are frequently requested, they are not always the best solution based on the condition of your remaining teeth, your overall health, and your oral health.
To determine if implants are suitable, you must start with a consultation to discuss your options. Dr. Hogan offers the initial consultation free of charge to determine which restoration solution is best for your needs. He will make a recommendation after evaluating your medical history, oral health, and the condition of your gum tissue and jawbone.
The goal of the consultation is to understand your desires and goals, the extent of restoration needed, the state of your oral health, and how the proposed treatment will affect your remaining teeth. With this information, Dr. Hogan can recommend a course of action.
Below are typical things you can expect to happen at your initial consultation:
An examination evaluates your teeth, gums, and jawbone to determine if they can support an implant. There are times when the bones are not strong enough due to bone loss or deterioration. In some cases, pre-surgical bone grafting can prepare the jawbone for an implant. Other times, it will require you to pursue alternative treatments.
Dental X-rays and/or 3D images of your mouth, teeth, and gums help Dr. Hogan evaluate the bone mass to determine if he can safely implant the artificial root into the jawbone.
CBCT scan is necessary in some cases to evaluate the condition of the surrounding tissue.
A review of your medical history. Dr. Hogan must understand your medical and dental history before determining if an implant is the best solution.
Discussion of treatment goals. While you want to replace the missing tooth (teeth), you also have expectations regarding the outcome you want. What are your concerns, long-term goals, and hopes for the procedure you choose? For example, some patients wish to have perfectly straight teeth, while others prefer slight imperfections because they feel it looks more natural.
To prepare for your initial consultation, you should gather relevant information about your medical and oral history and consider questions you want to discuss with Dr. Hogan.
It is common to need pre-surgical treatments before you begin the implant process.
During the initial consultation, Dr. Hogan will evaluate the current state of your oral health and identify any aspects that need to be addressed to ensure a successful implant. The presence of tooth decay, gum disease, or bone loss may require additional treatments before the dental implant procedure begins.
In some cases, the presence of oral health issues will require you to choose an alternative treatment.
Common health issues that require pre-surgical work include:
- The need for tooth extractions
- Treating an existing infection
- Addressing gum disease
- Bone grafting to rebuild the jawbone due to bone loss
Bone grafting is frequently needed before an implant because bone loss begins the moment you lose a tooth. When the bone around the missing tooth deteriorates, the jawbone may not be strong or thick enough to support an implant. The goal of grafting is to rebuild and strengthen the bone around the socket, making it strong enough to support and hold the new tooth in place.
When done correctly, the bone graft can stimulate bone growth within the jawbone giving you a firm foundation for the titanium post that must support the new tooth. The bone grafting process can extend the procedure by up to a year because the new bone tissue must fuse with the jawbone to create the conditions necessary for a successful implant.
Other pre-surgical treatments, such as a tooth extraction or treating an infection, will only add weeks to the procedure. While pre-surgical treatments extend the time to complete the implant process, failing to address existing issues could result in implant failure.
The Dental Implant Procedure
After completing any required pre-surgical work, the dental implant process can begin. The first step of the dental implant process requires a surgical procedure that imbeds a small titanium post into your jawbone. This outpatient treatment only requires a local anesthetic and is often completed in Dr. Hogan’s office.
After insertion of the implant post, you must wait several months for the titanium post to fuse with the jawbone through a process called osseointegration. Once the fusion takes place, the implant post becomes the artificial root that supports the new tooth.
Placing the Abutment
With the post securely in place, you are ready for the next step in the process, which is setting the abutment. This device serves as the connector between the root and tooth. The procedure involves reopening the gums to attach the abutment and requires a healing period of about two weeks before Dr. Hogan can set the crown.
Setting the Crown
The last step of the implant process is creating a new tooth that will match your natural teeth in both size and color. To ensure the tooth is the exact size required, Dr. Hogan will make an impression of your mouth. He then matches the color to your natural teeth. If you want whiter teeth, it’s essential to whiten them before setting the crown because you cannot whiten artificial teeth.
In most cases, the crown is manufactured in a lab and takes several weeks to create. You can receive a temporary crown in the interim if the new tooth is in a prominent position.
With the abutment in place, Dr. Hogan will cement the crown to the abutment, secured by the titanium post. This series of supports give you a new tooth that looks, acts, and feels like your natural teeth.
When you give your dental implants the proper care, they can remain in place for the remainder of your life. In some cases, you may need a replacement crown, but it is highly unusual to have issues with the titanium post supporting the crown.
The process of getting a dental implant is lengthy, but the results are far superior to other alternatives. At the end of the procedure, you will have a new tooth (teeth) that allows you to speak and eat without difficulty. The new root will support your jawbone, protecting against bone loss and gum disease. In most cases, a passerby will not be able to distinguish the implant from your natural teeth.
What are the stages of a dental implant?
There are three primary procedures required for an implant. It is placing the titanium post that serves as the root, setting the abutment that serves as the bridge to secure the crown to the post, and securing the crown, which is the new tooth. After the procedure, the new tooth will look, act, and function like your natural teeth.
How long does a dental implant take to complete?
Dental implants are a multi-step process that can take six months to over a year.
How can I speed the healing process?
You can take proactive steps to speed the recovery process between implant procedures. Steps you can take include good oral health practices, eating healthy foods, getting lots of rest, staying hydrated, and avoiding habits like tobacco use.
Call for an Appointment
If you are ready to explore ways to rejuvenate your smile, or you just need a cleaning and x-rays, call today for a free consultation or to schedule an appointment. Dr. Kevin Hogan graduated from the Indiana University School of Dentistry and has over 40 years of experience. He completed continuing education at the prestigious Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies, a world-renowned comprehensive and aesthetic dentistry center. He has also finished extensive coursework with the Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation and lectured at both North Carolina and Emory University.
He is known for his artistic skill, professionalism, and ability to find the right solution for an array of dental challenges. Dr. Kevin Hogan is a cosmetic and restorative dentist serving patients in Mt. Pleasant South Carolina and the greater Charleston, SC areas.