A dental implant is a small titanium post that is surgically placed in the jawbone. Following a period of healing, it will act much like the root of a tooth over which a crown will be placed. They are virtually indistinguishable from your other teeth due in part to the structural connection between implant and living bone. Implants can support a single crown, long span bridges and are often used when rehabilitating an entire dentition. They are considered long term restorations and provide excellent results that are comfortable, naturallooking and high functioning. In fact, the development and use of implants is one of the biggest advances in dentistry in the past 40 years.
The Implant Procedure
Step 1: First, Dr. Jonell Hopeck will perform the extraction of the tooth and the gums/bone are allowed to heal before the implant is placed. Usually this takes about 2-6 months before the implants can be placed. Sometimes, artificial powdered bone material is placed into the empty extraction site to ensure there is enough bone to support the implant. This is called a minor bone graft or a socket graft. If the tooth was knocked out, or is already missing, you still need to wait 2-6 months from the time it was lost to have implants placed. Extractions, and socket grafts if required are typically done in one appointment.
Step 2: After the bone and gums heal, the extraction site is reopened and the dental implant can be placed. The implant is screwed into the jawbone itself and the gums are then sealed over the implant. Your jawbone will actually grow around the implant in a process called osseointegration and this needs to occur before the abutment and permanent crown is fitted. Usually it takes about 3-6 months for the implant to osseointegrate with your jawbone before it is stable enough to support the abutment and crown. Implants can be placed in just one appointment, but follow ups for suture removal, check-ups, etc. are required.
Step 3: After the implants are stable, you would return to have the abutment and crown fitted. During this visit, the gums are opened up, the abutments are attached to the implants, and then impressions are taken of the abutments and surrounding teeth in order to send off the dental laboratory where the crowns are crafted. It is important that good impression are taken so that when the crowns are fitted, they fit properly, align and match the bite of your other teeth, and have a proper minimal margin at the gumline for best appearance. It takes a few days for the lab to make the crowns, and the whole process usually takes about a week.
The entire procedure usually takes nine to twelve months. Most patients do not experience any disruption in their daily life.