Dental implants were invented by Swedish orthopaedic surgeon named Per-Ingvar Brånemark in 1952. Nowadays, dental implants are considered the standard of care for replacement of missing teeth. 

Dental implants are surgical fixtures placed into the jawbone. They are made to fuse with the jawbone over a few months. Dental implants work as replacement for the root of the missing tooth.  The artificial “tooth root” also holds the replacement tooth or bridge.

Dental implants may be used to replace a single tooth, several teeth, or all of the patient’s teeth. The primary goals of teeth replacement are restoring function as well as aesthetics.

What happens before, during, and after the procedure?

In the consult and planning stage, the dental surgeon will examine the site where the dental implant will be placed. Dental imaging studies (i.e. panoramic films, CT scans, X-rays) will also be requested when needed. The quantity as well as the quality of the jawbone is assessed to gauge if more bone is needed at the site.

Once the dental surgeon has established a dental implant can be placed in the location identified, the patient will return for surgical procedures for the dental implants. Oftentimes, during the surgical procedure sessions, patients will be given a local anaesthetic to numb the surgical area.

The first stage of oral surgery will often involve tooth or teeth extraction. In the event when there’s still an existing damaged tooth present, extraction of the tooth will be performed. 

When needed, an alveolar bone graft (synthetic bone or cadaver) will be carried out in order to achieve a solid base for the implant. The site will be allowed to heal for at least 2 to 6 months. 

If the site has no teeth but bone loss is present, a different bone graft (onlay bone graft) will be placed on top of the existing jawbone. Since this procedure is a bit more complex, healing will require around 6 or more months. 

In instances where enough bone is present, the implant placement procedure can be carried out after the damaged tooth has been extracted. Both procedures are carried out in the same session. The procedure is known as “immediate implant” placement.

During the implant placement appointment, the dental implant (titanium post) will be placed into the bone with the use of a special drill and tools. A “healing cap” is also placed over the implant. The gum is stitched up after and the healing phase starts.

While healing, a temporary denture may be placed to replace the missing teeth. This is often done for aesthetic purposes. Healing time is typically anywhere from 2 to 6 months. During the healing period, the implant will integrate with the bone. 

After the healing period, the dentist will check if the dental implant has been successfully integrated into the bone. Once okay, a prosthetic component will be connected to the dental implant through a screw. This component is referred to as “abutment.” It works by holding the crown or replacement tooth in place.

The dentist will take a mold (impression) of the abutment in the mouth so the implant crown can be created to fit. The implant crown will either be secured to the abutment using a screw or cemented in place.

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