Dental Implants: What to Expect

  • What to Expect Before a Dental Implant Surgery
  • What to Expect During a Dental Implant Surgery
  • What to Expect After Dental Implant Surgery

Dental implants can significantly improve the appearance of your smile while helping to promote healthy gums and teeth. But what happens before, during, and after an implant surgery? You may be wondering how long the procedure will take, if dental implants are painful, and what to expect during recovery.

What to Expect Before a Dental Implant Surgery

If you have missing or damaged teeth an implant surgery can help restore your smile by replacing affected teeth. Prior to the surgery your dentist will evaluate if you are a good candidate with a few simple steps:

  1. X-rays: Your dentist will take x-rays of your teeth to evaluate your bone and gum condition. If any warning signs are present, such as a cavity or gum disease, your dentist may recommend other treatment options before moving forward with a dental implant.
  2. Impressions: A plastic or metal impression tray will be filled with a soft liquid that molds to the shape of your mouth to create a replica. This helps your dentist determine the exact size and form of your teeth, gums, and surrounding tissue to better fit an implant where it is needed.

What to Expect During a Dental Implant Surgery

Once your x-rays have been reviewed and an impression taken, your dentist will move forward with an implant surgery. The initial stage of surgery involves several steps and will take about one to two hours:

  1. Extraction: If the tooth in question is still in your mouth, then it will need to be removed. A tooth extraction procedure often involves the use of local anesthesia as your dentist pulls the damaged tooth from your mouth.
  2. Implant: At this stage of the process your dentist will begin inserting the initial component that makes up an implant. A hole is drilled into your jawbone to make room for the fixture, which will act as an artificial root to hold the rest of the implant in place. In certain instances, a bone graft may be necessary but the procedure is minor and painless.

Once your jawbone heals after the placement of the fixture, it will begin to fuse with the dental implant making it a permanent part of your smile. Your dentist will determine when your implant is ready to move on to the next step of the procedure depending on the implant’s stability with your jaw. If your jawbone has healed and the implant is stable your dentist will continue with the surgery:

  1. Abutment placement: Once your implant has fused with your jawbone, an abutment is placed atop to function as a connecting instrument to the crown. This part of the process is often painless due to local anesthesia, with some patients reporting that they felt only a bit of pressure as the abutment is tightened around the fixture.
  2. Crown: A permanent crown is attached to the abutment, completing the surgery. The crown will look and feel just like your natural teeth.

What to Expect After Dental Implant Surgery

Once the anesthesia wears off you may feel some soreness or a bit of discomfort. Most patients don’t feel any pain after the surgery and are able to go about their daily routine. Your dentist may make several recommendations to ensure a smooth healing process:

  1. Antibiotics may be prescribed to limit your risk of infection
  2. Avoid hard, sticky, or tough foods after surgery
  3. Brush and floss as you would with your natural teeth
  4. Try switching to an electric toothbrush to better clean between teeth and below the gum line to limit infection caused by harmful plaque bacteria
  5. Use a fortifying toothpaste like Crest Gum Detoxify to help keep your smile healthy
  6. After healing, rinse with a gum care mouthwash to maintain a healthy gum line so your implant can stay in place

After you heal, be sure to keep up with regular dentist appointments for professional cleanings and checkups.

Thinking of getting dental implants, find out if they are right for you, how much they cost and the difference between dental implants and dentures.