A full and healthy smile can help you to feel confident and attractive as you interact with the world. If you have experienced tooth loss or another oral health concern, then you may be considering a dental implant to improve or restore your pearly whites to their full glory. Here is everything you need to know about the dental implant process.

What Are Dental Implants and Who Is a Candidate?

Dental implants consist of small posts that extend into your gum and are held in place with titanium screws that are implanted into the jawbone during minimally invasive surgery. Once the bone tissue has integrated with the screws to create a solid and stable base, a prosthetic tooth, or restoration, is placed on the top.

If you have experienced tooth loss or decay due to severe periodontal disease or trauma, then dental implants can be placed to fill the gap and blend in with your existing teeth. They can be used to replace a single missing tooth or an entire arch. Once placed and healed, you will have normal speech and fully restored ability to chew and enjoy your food.

Most healthy individuals who practice good oral health care are viable candidates for dental implants. You need to have adequate bone structure available to firmly hold the implant in place and have no severe periodontal disease. These conditions may need to be rectified before the implants can be placed. Additionally, all candidates seeking dental implants should be in fairly good health. You should not proceed with the procedure if you have any medical conditions that would prevent you from healing fully.

Procedure Options

The procedure that your periodontist recommends will depend upon your individual needs:

  • Individual dental implants replace a single tooth and are normally done soon after tooth loss.
  • Multiple implants or arch restoration may take longer, as the implants generally need time to heal and stabilize in the bone before the restoration can be placed.
  • Implant supported dentures are useful when you are replacing the entire upper or lower teeth arch. Several dental implants support and hold your dentures in place for a natural look and great fit.
  • Teeth-in-a-day uses temporary restorations to top the implants. This gives you fully functioning teeth while the screws heal and your bone tissue grows into place around them. Once the area has healed completely, the temporary crowns are removed and permanent restorations are put in their place.

An experienced periodontist from the team at Periodontal Associates of Memphis has the skills necessary to offer you the best treatment option for your needs. Our team’s exceptional knowledge and history of placing dental implants allow them to address any underlying cause of your tooth loss so your gum and bone tissues heal to make the implant placement effective and successful.

Dental Implant Process

The entire process of receiving dental implants can take up to 12 months, depending on the number of teeth that are being replaced and any underlying conditions that need to be addressed. Your periodontist will guide you through the whole process and answer all of your questions and concerns at each stage.

Step 1: Initial Consultation

Before any surgery takes place, you will have a consultation with your periodontist to discuss your medical history, oral hygiene, and confirm that you are a good candidate for the procedure. You will be given an exam and X-rays to determine the health of your teeth, gums, and bone. If any conditions are found that will affect the placement of the implants or your ability to heal from them, such as periodontal disease, gum recession, bone loss, or tooth decay, they will be rectified first so that your implant surgery has a favorable outcome.

Step 2: Pre-Implant Surgery and Procedures

The loss of a tooth, and therefore the root, causes the bone located under the missing tooth to dissolve. When left unaddressed, this can cause a chain reaction as the surrounding teeth lose support and begin to loosen and fall out as well.

In some cases, your periodontist may need to perform some pre-implant surgery to resolve bone loss or other concerns:

  • Tooth Extraction is necessary if you have teeth that are damaged, infected, or cracked down to the root. Sometimes a tooth needs to be removed to make room for the implants. Depending upon your situation, the extraction may be able to be done on the same day as the post placement.
  • Bone Grafts may be needed if you don’t have enough bone tissue to support the implant. A procedure such as ridge-socket preservation will be done to build healthy bone tissue. You will need to heal from this type of procedure for several months before the bone is ready to receive a dental implant.

After these have been taken care of, you are ready to begin the dental implant placement.

Step 3: Placement of Posts

When you are healed and ready for the post placement, your periodontist will numb your jaw with a local anesthetic and place the posts into the bone tissue through a small hole that has been drilled. Then you will need to allow yourself time to heal as the bone and gum tissue close around and integrate with the post.

Step 4: Final Restoration Placement

The final step is to uncover the top of the post and place an abutment that will hold the restoration tooth. Your periodontist will check that you have healed and then take impressions of the area to ensure a perfect fit. The color of the restorations will be matched to your existing teeth to ensure that they blend in.

Once your dental implants are in place, you will have a natural-looking, beautiful smile again. Dental implants are easy to care for, and when you follow the maintenance and instructions you are given, they can last for 20 years or more!

For superior care from a team you can trust, call Periodontal Associates of Memphis today to get more information and schedule your consultation. Our periodontists, Dr. Mitchel S. Godat and Dr. Grant King have the knowledge, skills, and compassion to put you at ease and help you get a smile you can be proud of.