Dental implants are the artificial tooth roots used to support an artificial tooth (dental crown).
Getting a dental implant in place of a missing tooth provides several benefits, such as:
- Preventing jaw bone deterioration
- Preventing the shifting of adjacent teeth
But, installing a dental implant is a lengthy process that takes several months. Thus, if you plan on getting a dental implant, here is what you should expect.
Dental Implant Consultation
The first step of a dental implant procedure is an orthodontic consultation. During the consultation, an orthodontist conducts several tests to determine the density and mass of your jaw bone.
You will undergo a battery of X-ray imaging and CT scans to determine the condition of your jawbone. If your jaw bone is suitable to host a dental implant, the orthodontists can recommend getting a periosteal dental implant.
If your jawbone is unsuitable, the orthodontist recommends a subperiosteal implant. But they can also suggest a jawbone grafting procedure.
Jaw Bone Grafting
If you want a periosteal dental implant but your jaw bone is not suitable to host one, a jaw bone grafting procedure is recommendable. Jaw bone grafting aims to increase the proposed area's mass and density for dental implant installation.
You have four options regarding the graft material used. The four options include:
- Graft materials derived from your body (Autogenous grafts)
- Graft materials purchased from a human tissue bank (Allografts)
- Graft materials purchased from an animal tissue bank (Xeno grafts)
- Synthetic graft materials (Alloplast grafts)
The grafting process involves an orthodontist surgically parting your gums to access the jaw bone. Then the orthodontist combines the graft material with platelet-rich plasma before placing it in the jawbone. The purpose of the platelet-rich plasma is to enable your jawbone to augment with the graft material and heal much faster.
But, after a bone grafting procedure, it is common for a patient to experience pain and swelling. These symptoms disappear after a few days with pain killers and antibiotics.
Patients usually must wait 3-9 months for the jawbone to augment and heal successfully. Thus, your orthodontist must confirm that your jawbone is fully healed before installing a dental implant.
Dental Implant Placement
When installing a subperiosteal implant, an orthodontist first applies a local anesthetic. Once the anesthesia takes effect, the orthodontist surgically parts the gums to access the jawbone. The orthodontist then places the subperiosteal implant on the jawbone and sutures the parted gum area to hold the implant.
If you opt for a periosteal implant, the orthodontist has to drill into your jawbone. Thus, they first numb the area with local anesthesia and then parts the gums to access the jawbone. Afterward, the orthodontist uses a dental drill to create a hole in your jaw bone and screws in the periosteal implant.
On average, the healing time for periosteal implants is 4-6 months because the jawbone takes longer to heal. But subperiosteal implants have less healing time because it's only the gums that need healing.