Oral health isn’t typically something people give too much thought to – that is, until they have an issue. The moment you start to experience tooth sensitivity, pain or even the loss of a tooth, suddenly your oral health takes center stage. So, what happens if you’ve been told you need a dental implant? It can sound rather scary and intimidating, especially if you’re not familiar with what a dental implant is and the process used.
To begin with, let’s clear the air and ensure you’re getting all the facts about what kind of dentist does implants, why an implant is necessary, what the process is like and what you can expect after it is completed. This will help you to feel much more confident heading into the dental implant process.
What Exactly Is a Dental Implant?
Before we look at what kind of dentist does this procedure, it’s important to look at what a dental implant is. This is an artificial root that is made from titanium metal and is meant to replace your tooth’s natural root. Attached to this artificial root will be an artificial tooth. These are so well made nowadays that they will look just like a real tooth, making them undetectable to others.
Who Does the Implant?
Because a dental implant is quite involved, you will usually visit a specialist with specific training and experience in this procedure. These specialists are oral surgeons or periodontists. Your normal dentist will most likely refer you to one of these individuals. These types of dental specialists also perform other skilled procedures such as bridges, crowns and dentures.
What Is Involved in the Procedure?
Now comes the most common question asked – what is involved in the dental implant procedure? It’s normal to feel a bit scared and apprehensive about the procedure, but once you realize the steps involved, you’ll see it is a routine appointment for these implant specialists.
The appointment begins with a mouth examination. The dentist wants to be sure you are an ideal candidate for a dental implant and that there are no hidden surprises or issues. This exam will include x-rays of your teeth, jaw and head. What you may not realize is that not everyone is right for a dental implant, so the dentist needs to be sure before going ahead with the procedure. This is the pre-surgical appointment.
Now it’s time for the surgery, which consists of three different stages. Leading up to the surgery you may be given prescription antibiotics and a special antibacterial mouthwash. Be sure to follow the instructions given for these products. These are meant to reduce the risk of developing an infection post-surgery.
On the day of the surgery, you will be given localized anesthetic, which means you will need someone to drive you home from your appointment. The dentist may offer both IV and oral sedation, giving you the choice. These will ensure you don’t feel pain and discomfort during the procedure.
In stage one of the surgery, the implant will be put in place in the jawbone. Because an incision is required, you may also require stitches. After this step is done, you will usually need to wait a few months before the next stage. This gives the implant a chance to attach to the jawbone.
Stage two will attach the abutment to the implant and a mold is taken for your crown (the artificial tooth). The final step is to have the new crown put in place.
What About After Care?
Now that you’ve gotten your dental implant, it’s important to take good care of it so it stays in excellent condition. In terms of cleaning it, there are no special instructions. Just brush and floss as you normally would. You may also need to visit the dentist more regularly to ensure the fit is right, the tooth hasn’t come loose at all, and that your bite is normal. Be sure to also ask your dentist if there are any dietary restrictions in those first couple of days, as they may suggest you avoid specific foods. These regular check-ups tend to happen for at least a year after the implant has been put in place.
It should be noted that, in some very rare cases, the implant may not be successful. This happens when it doesn’t bond properly to the jawbone. Signs that this may be the case include:
- Bleeding at the site of the implant
If you experience any of these issues, it’s important to visit your dentist immediately so they can take a better look.
While it can seem a bit scary at first, a dental implant is a routine procedure for oral surgeons and will result in a natural-looking tooth that is pain-free and functions just like a real tooth.
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