The consultation phase is a time for you, Dr Smith will discuss whether dental implants are suitable for you. Then you will have an examination of your teeth, gum, and the density of your jawbone. You will undergo x-rays as well as computer tomography scans (CT scans); these serve to determine if you have enough jawbone density to support the implant.
You will discuss the appropriate number of appointments and the aftercare required after each treatment. You will also be informed about options for local anesthesia or sedation.
Dr Smith uses the results from the CT scans to measure the size of the jawbone and to determine the precise location to drill a hole in the gum. He will then drill a small hole, known as a pilot hole into the space where there is a missing tooth. As the name suggests, the pilot hole serves as a guide for subsequent drilling before the implant is put in place. Using the CT scan results as a guide ensures that facial and lower jaw muscles are not damaged by the drilling procedure.
After drilling the pilot hole, Dr Smith will meticulously widen the hole by further drilling. This expansion allows him to place the implant, which is usually a tiny screw made from titanium, into the hole. Once the dental implants are in place, then Dr Smith uses the surrounding tissues to cover the implant. Another screw is placed over these tissues to allow the implant to naturally and firmly affix itself on the jawbone. This process is known as osseointegration.
It takes approximately 6 months for the implant to firmly anchor on the jawbone, after which Dr Smith will expose the implant. He will then place a supporting screw onto the implant, to anchor the replacement tooth. Sometimes this support is placed at the same time as the implant at which time a temporary crown is fixed to allow an underdeveloped gum to grow naturally. Once the gum grows, a permanent crown is fixed.
Following a dental implants procedure, you will encounter some discomfort in the form of a slightly swollen face and gums, and bleeding on the implant location. Prescribed pain relief medication will alleviate discomfort.
It takes approximately six months to heal, while the crown takes about 2 months to fit firmly. You are required to stick to soft foods in the first week and to refrain from smoking. Follow up appointments will the dental surgeon is also important. Regular flossing and brushing are compulsory aftercare requirements, to ensure that the dental implants procedure works successfully.
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