Dental implants are a type of oral surgery where a post is implanted into the patient’s jaw, sometimes by a cosmetic dentist, and an artificial crown is placed atop it. The post, which is often made of the biocompatible metal titanium, fuses over time with the bone in the patient’s jaw. This keeps the crown stable for a decade or more.
Who Gets an Implant?
Patients seek implants because they have teeth that are cracked, chipped, crowded together, missing, discolored or unsightly in some other way. Like most dental procedures that are considered merely cosmetic, an implant has practical benefits such as helping the patient to eat and speak more effectively.
Candidate for Oral Surgery
A good candidate for this treatment is in good health, and their jaw has enough bone to support the post and the crown. In some cases, patients who don’t have enough bone are given bone grafts taken from other places in their bodies, sometimes from the hip.
When the surgery is agreed upon, the dentist may have the patient start taking antibiotics even before the operation to protect them from infection.
To install the post, the cosmetic dentist opens the gum with a scalpel, then uses a special drill to make a hole in the jawbone. They implant the post, cover it with a protective cap, then close the flaps of the gum over it, and suture them together. It takes a few months for the bone and the post to fuse.
After the Operation
When the patient goes home they’ll have some swelling and discomfort for a few days, but the dentist will have prescribed painkillers to ease this. The patient can also apply ice packs or the old standby of frozen peas to relieve their pain. They’ll need to eat a soft diet for a while, and take the entire course of antibiotics that the dentist prescribed.
Though the stitches are removed after about 10 days, the patient’s task is not done. They’ll need to take care of the area while the bone and post fuse together, which means keeping regular appointments with their dentist.
When the dentist sees through X-rays that the post and bone have fused, they reopen the gum, take off the post’s protective cap, and install abutment cylinders. A crown made of porcelain, metal or a combination of the two is made. In some cases the crown is made to match the patient’s other teeth precisely. This is most likely the case if the tooth that has been replaced is in the front of the mouth.
For more information about dental implants, don’t hesitate to call our office for a consultation.