From 1999 to 2016, the use of dental implants in the US has jumped from 0.7% to 5.7%. While this may not seem like much, it’s projected that the use of such a dental device can jump to 23% in 2026.
In any case, it’s evident that dental implants were a previously underused solution to helping people with missing teeth.
If you’re getting a dental implant, or are thinking of asking your dentist about one, then you’ll want to keep reading. We’ll tell you all about them and the dental implant procedure steps that you’ll go through.
What Are Dental Implants?
Before you understand the steps you have to go through, you need to first understand what dental implants are exactly.
Typically, if you have missing teeth, you have 3 options to fix this issue: bridges, dentures, or dental implants. Implants are a good alternative to dentures since they essentially provide you with replacement teeth.
How Do Dental Implants Work?
Basically, the dentist places metal posts or frames in your gums, below where your teeth used to be. Then, they’re able to place replacement teeth (crowns) made of porcelain on top.
Because they essentially function like normal teeth do (the implants fuse to your jawbone), it’s like getting a second chance at normal oral function. If you have issues with speaking, eating, or smiling, dental implants can help you regain functionality in all 3 areas.
Who Can Get Dental Implants?
Because the posts or frames need to fuse to your jawbone, you must be in good health to be a good candidate for dental implants. If your jawbone is eroded or in poor shape, it may not be able to hold onto the posts and frames.
In this case, you may be better off with dentures. Have a discussion with your dentist to see what the options available to you are.
Also, note that if you’re pregnant, have a chronic illness, or grind your teeth, you probably won’t be a good candidate for dental implants either.
The Dental Implant Procedure Steps
Now that you know what dental implants are, perhaps you want to explore this avenue even further. Below, we’ll show you what the dental implant procedure steps are.
This is where the dentist figures out if you’re a good candidate or not. They’ll go through your medical history, as well as take X-rays (or 3D CT scans) of your mouth to see the condition of your teeth and jawbones.
Often, the dentist will also take an impression of your mouth. This is where they use a tray filled with a soft liquid, which you’ll have to hold in your mouth for a few minutes so it gets the shape of your gums, teeth, and tissues.
In most cases, the tooth (or teeth) in question will already be missing, which means you won’t need to go through this step.
However, if it’s still in your mouth, then you’ll need to have it extracted. The dentist may be able to do this in your initial consultation. Or they may do it at your appointment for your dental implant insertion.
For most patients, an injection of lidocaine is all they need to get through a tooth extraction. If you need anything stronger, don’t feel afraid to speak up. Your dentist will do all they can to keep you comfortable.
Dental Implant Insertion
At this appointment, the dentist will put the dental implant into your mouth. This will require either local anesthesia or IV sedation.
First, they’ll drill into your jawbone. Then, they’ll put the implant deep into your jawbone so it can become fused more easily.
If your jawbone isn’t in great condition, your dentist may need to perform a bone graft. This can be done while they’re performing the implant insertion.
This appointment takes about 1-2 hours and you shouldn’t be in too much pain or discomfort afterward. You can take over-the-counter medications to alleviate the pain if it gets to be too much for you.
While your implant heals, you’ll have to be on a soft food diet for a week. The time to heal will depend on your body; it can take anywhere between a few weeks to a few months.
After your implant heals, the abutment placement is next. The abutment is something that’s put on top of the implant to connect to your crown.
Your dentist will give you local anesthesia and then use a dental torque wrench to tighten the abutment into place.
For some people, this step can be done at your appointment for your dental implant insertion.
Now that you have the abutment in place, your dentist can place the crown on top. This is what will make it look and feel like you have your original teeth back!
You should be getting regular dental checkups anyway. But they’re now especially important since you have dental implants.
At these checkups, your dentist will check to see if things are going smoothly for you. These checkups will last between 3 to 9 months; the length will depend on how many implants you have.
After this period of time, then you can resume your normal dental checkups.
Ask Your Dentist if Dental Implants Are Right for You
Now you know what dental implants are and what the dental implant procedure steps are.
Do you have missing teeth, are in good health, and feel like you can benefit from this type of dental treatment? Then it may be worth it to have a discussion about them the next time you see your dentist. Only they can tell if you’re a good candidate or not.
Got any questions about dental implants or want to schedule an appointment? Then get in touch with us now.