Dental Implant FAQs

Why Do I Need A Dental Implant?

Once it is decided that a natural tooth needs to be removed, replacing it is very important. When the root of the tooth is removed from the jaw the bone starts to resorb or be lost. This will make implant placement in the future more complicated. In addition to this, the teeth in the mouth are in an interactive relationship which allows for function and aesthetics. Removal of a tooth without replacement will alter the functional relationship of the rest of the teeth and create changes in the shape of the face and smile. Usually, the resulting complications far outweigh the process of replacing the tooth with an implant.

What Is A Dental Implant?

A dental implant is a titanium fixture that takes the place of the root of the missing tooth. The titanium in an implant is the same material that is used for hip or knee replacement. Titanium is a very biocompatible material, which means the body responds very well to it. The titanium implant is placed into the jawbone and is allowed time for the bone to grow around the implant. The titanium fixture and the bone fuse together and become “one.” This is called osseointegration. Osseointegration can take anywhere from 3 months in the lower jaw and 6 months in the upper jaw.

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Does Getting A Dental Implant Hurt?

The area where the implant will be placed will be anesthetized with local anesthetic so you will not feel anything during the procedure. After the procedure you will have minimal discomfort that can be managed by Tylenol and Ibuprofen. Over the course of the next week or so you will feel an awareness and you will instinctively avoid chewing around implant placement. You will be able to eat softer foods for the first 2 weeks after the procedure. After about 2 weeks you will be able to chew normally. You will be on a special rinse to keep the area clean and instructions as to when you can resume brushing and flossing.

What Is The Process From Beginning To End?

The process consists of 4-5 treatment appointments depending upon whether the extraction is done in our office or if the tooth has already been removed. At your first visit, a 3D image will be taken and from this image, the various treatment options will be discussed. Sometimes the implant can be placed immediately after an extraction, but most often, the tooth is removed, and the area needs to heal. Once healed, the implant is placed. The implant takes time to fuse to the bone, usually 3 months on the lower arch and 6 months on the upper arch. After the implant has integrated it is ready to be restored. For restoring the implant, the top needs to be exposed, this is called an uncovering. The uncovering of the top of the implant is a short 20-minute procedure with local anesthetic and is done so the dentist can access the implant.

How Long Is The Recovery After Dental Implant Placement?

The recovery period is usually about 1-2 weeks. The discomfort is minimal and managed by acetaminophen and ibuprofen. I recommend ice to be used 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off for the first day or so after the procedure. There will be stiches and they usually dissolve at around 2 weeks. It will be important for you to keep you chewing to the other side of your mouth, away from where the implant was placed for the first 2 weeks. During this 2-week period please keep your foods to a softer consistency, ie, scrambled eggs, yogurt, fish, etc.