One minute you are streaming the new season of your favorite show, enjoying a bag of popcorn. And then it happens – you bite down and feel part of a tooth break off. Depending on how much of the tooth is salvageable, you may be able to save it with a crown. But when the entire tooth must be removed to leave a gaping space, that’s when your dentist may recommend a dental implant.
Dental implants look and feel like your natural teeth. They consist of a crown that is placed on top of a titanium post that is anchored into the jawline. Implants serve as a permanent alternative to dentures and bridges, but they do best in a healthy mouth with a jawline that can sustain the post. If your dentist is recommending you get an implant for a damaged or missing tooth, here is what you can expect throughout the process.
Before your dentist gets the implant process underway, he will evaluate your mouth to determine if implants are feasible. In many cases, enough of a broken tooth remains whereby the dentist can place a crown over the remaining part of the tooth rather than extract it. If your dentist determines that your mouth isn’t healthy enough for implants, he may recommend another restorative procedure. Your dentist will take X-rays to confirm his prognosis as well as alert your him to any possible complications.
If implants are warranted, your dentist will need to extract the remains of the damaged tooth. To prepare for this surgical procedure, he will need an imprint of your teeth and gums. This procedure includes biting down on an impression tray filled with a liquid that will quickly set into a solid rubber mass. For some, this can be uncomfortable, especially if you have an active gag reflex. Remember to remain calm and try to distract yourself with other things. It is also best to be open with your dentist about any issues you may have.
Prepping for Surgery
Before your tooth extraction, your dentist will ask you to rinse with a special anti-bacterial mouthwash. If you have a medical condition or are at high risk of infection, you may be prescribed antibiotics a few days before the procedure. If your dentist will be using local anesthetic, there is no need to fast, but if he is using general anesthesia, you likely will need to refrain from foods and most liquids the night before; you will also need to be have someone bring you home in case you are too unstable to drive or go home by yourself.
Tooth Extraction and Inserting Anchors
Your dentist will sedate you for a pain-free procedure. Extracting a tooth takes no time; expect a little pressure or tugging sensation as your tooth is pulled out. After tooth extraction, a hole will be drilled into your jawbone. Sometimes, a small incision in your gum will be necessary to expose the bone. During this procedure, anchors are surgically placed in the jawbone. These anchors will serve as the root for the post that will be placed into the jaw later on. Your jawbone will fuse with the anchors as it heals. This can take from weeks to even months, depending on the patient.
Expect your post-surgery to require intensive aftercare. Maintain excellent oral hygiene, taking care not to scrape any raw or sensitive space. Expect to schedule a number of follow-up visits between surgery and the final placement of the crown. Follow through on your antibiotic prescription and take as prescribed. Avoid any foods or activities that can damage your teeth, to include smoking, drinking liquids that can stain your teeth, and chewing on ice or foods that can chip teeth.
Over time the space will heal; when it does your dentist will insert the titanium post into the anchors to establish the artificial root that will stabilize and balance the new tooth. When you are thoroughly healed, an abutment will be placed on top of the post to connect it to the new crown. Once done, your permanent crown should be attached to the abutment, and you’re good to go.
Dental Implant Services in St. Paul
With proper care, your implant will last a lifetime and will look and feel like a real tooth. No matter what type of issue you are having with your teeth, the team at Hagerman Dental Care provide a variety of comprehensive dental services for your oral health care needs. Click here to set up an appointment securely via the web, or call us at (651) 646-2392 to see which or our services are right for you.