Dental Implant Procedure

dental implants

The Dental Implant Procedure

A dental implant procedure generally involves the placement of the implant in the jawbone and the placement of the tooth restoration on top of the implant.

The exact dental implant procedure followed in each case may be slightly different depending on the individual characteristics of the patient's case, the type of implants to be used and the experience of the implant dentist. The amount of time required for the completion of the treatment may vary significantly, especially if additional treatments such as dental bone grafting or sinus lift augmentation are necessary to prepare the implantation area.

Does Dental Insurance Cover Dental Implants?

The dentist will follow a different procedure for a patient with healthy jawbone that lost one or more teeth due to an accident, from that followed for a patient who lost several teeth due to dental infection and bone loss.

The dental implant procedure will also be different if a sub-periosteal implant has to be used instead of the more common endosseous implants.

The several different types of dental implants provided by various manufacturers may require minor adjustments in the procedure.

Dental implants procedure for an endosseous root-form implant

The dental implant procedure described in this page refers to the most typical case, the placement of a single endosseous root-form implant in two surgical phases.

The first surgery involves the placement of the dental implant in the jawbone, followed by a healing period of three to six months, called osseointegration, in which the titanium screw integrates with the jawbone. After this period during a second surgery the dentist exposes the implant and places an abutment that will anchor the tooth restoration. Traditional implants are placed using this two-surgery process, although some newer implants can be placed in a single step procedure.

The placement of dental implants is an invasive procedure that may make some patients with dental anxiety feel uncomfortable. Dental sedation can help them to be relaxed throughout the procedure. For patients with severe phobias, dental sedation is the best and most effective choice.

The next sections describe the several phases of the procedure of placing dental implants.

The Dental Implant Procedure
1. Implant dentist consultation - Diagnostic phase

If you consider implant treatment, the first thing to do is to find an experienced implants dentist, usually a prosthodontist, periodontist, oral surgeon or general dentist with advanced training in the placement and restoration of implants. (Read more about how to find an implant dentist)

The initial dental consultation during the diagnostic phase usually includes:

  • medical and dental history - the implant dentist will ask for a complete and detailed medical and dental history, a list of any medications that the patient is taking and finally will ask of any habits such as smoking, drug / alcohol use or dental habits like bruxism. Several medical conditions and patient's habits may significantly increase the risk of dental implant complications and implant failure.
  • oral examination - a thorough oral exam will reveal any dental health problems, tooth decay or gum disease, that have to be treated before starting the implants procedure.
  • X-rays - x-rays provide information about the condition and shape of the jawbone and adjacent teeth roots and help the dentist in designing the proper treatment plan.
  • CT-scan - If there is concern about the quantity or quality of the jawbone, the dentist may request a computerized tomography (CT) scan of the mouth that gives a more detailed 3-dimensional image of the jawbone. However a CT scan is recommended in all cases because it can provide a clear view of the location of nerves and sinuses, minimizing the possibility of surgical errors and dental implant complications.
  • teeth impressions - a scale model of the patient's existing teeth will help to determine the best possible size and placement locations for the new implants.
  • treatment planning - after gathering the necessary information, the dentist will determine if the patient is suitable to get an implant and discuss with the patient the available options, possible implant complications and risks, additional treatment needs and explain the relevant costs. After the patient's agreement, the dentist will decide what size and type of implant(s) will be used,will design the final treatment plan, and arrange the next appointment for starting the main dental implants procedure.

The Dental Implant Procedure
2. Implantation area preparation

Any problems identified during the diagnostic phase must be addressed to prepare the jaw for the implant placement. One or more of the following treatment may be required:

  • bone graft - if the x-rays or/and CT scan show that there is not enough healthy bone to support the placement of the implant, the only solution in order to build up the necessary bone mass is a procedure called bone grafting or bone augmentation. If a bone graft is needed the patient may have to wait for about 4-12 months until there is sufficient bone build-up before starting the implant surgery.
  • sinus augmentation (sinus lift) - if there is not enough bone between the implantation area and the sinus cavity or the bone height is not enough for the placement of an upper jaw implant, the condition can be corrected with sinus augmentation.
  • gum disease treatment - if the patient has a gum disease problem, it is crucial that the condition is treated completely before starting the implant treatment. A treatment plan should include professional dental cleaning, tooth scaling, root planning and daily oral hygiene. A severe infection in tooth roots or gums may delay the implant surgery for several months until the infection is completely eliminated.
  • soft tissue graft - treatment of severe gum recession with soft tissue graft is recommended before the dental implant surgery procedure to provide enough gum tissue for covering the implant.
  • tooth extractions - if except the already missing teeth there are any other teeth in very poor health condition, it may be better to be extracted and their replacement to be included in the overall treatment plan.

After any necessary pre-treatments are completed, the dental implant dentist will complete the treatment planning based on the type of implant to be used and schedule the appointment for the dental implant surgery procedure.

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Last update: 01/01/2017