A dental implant is an artificial titanium fixture surgically placed in your jaw to act as a replacement tooth root. While you heal, your implant fuses with the surrounding bone, becoming a permanent and stable part of your jaw. Osseointegration is a vital step in dental implant treatment, as it firmly anchors the plant post so that it can support an abutment and restoration. Read on to learn a bit more about the dental implant process and how osseointegration supports long-lasting dental implant restorations.
The Dental Implant Process
Dental implant treatment consists of multiple steps and can span several months. However, much of that time is for recovery and allowing osseointegration to take place.
Here is what the dental implant process looks like:
Step 1: Placing the Implant PostDuring the first step of a dental implant restoration, your oral surgeon will administer the appropriate form of anesthesia to ensure you’re comfortable during the procedure. Then, they will place a screw-like titanium implant post deep within your jaw to provide stability for your eventual restoration. Over the next two to three months, your gums will heal and osseointegration will occur, allowing the posts to fuse to the surrounding jawbone.
Step 2: Attaching the Abutment
After your recovery period, you’ll return to the dental office for the next step of dental implant restoration. Your dentist will use local anesthesia to minimize discomfort during this procedure. The dentist will attach a small connecting piece called an abutment to your dental implant post. After another period of healing, you’ll be ready to return for your implant restoration.
Step 3: Completing Your Smile with a RestorationFinally, your dentist will replace the crown of your missing tooth with a natural-looking restoration. Which restoration is best for you will depend on several factors, including the number of teeth you are missing. Dental implants can support crowns, bridges, and even dentures. Your dentist will explain your options and help you choose the right restoration.
How Osseointegration Creates a Solid Foundation for Dental ImplantsOsseointegration is essential for the success of dental implant treatment. It refers to the fusing process that takes place while you heal from your initial implant surgery. Osseointegration occurs over a duration of six weeks to six months, based on the location of the implant and the health of your jawbone. During this time, your dentist may place temporary teeth to preserve the aesthetics of your smile. Once the implant posts are fully integrated into your jawbone, they’ll be able to support abutments and your permanent replacement teeth. Osseointegration is a natural healing process that should occur on its own, provided you have good oral health. However, there are certain factors that could interfere with the osseointegration process. It’s important to follow all your dentist’s post-surgical care instructions to support the healing process. Here are a few tips to help ensure that osseointegration takes place and dental implant treatment is successful:
- Use prescribed antibiotics as directed by your dentist.
- Use antibacterial mouthwash to reduce bacteria in your mouth.
- Avoid alcohol and cigarettes for at least two weeks prior to dental implant treatment and throughout the recovery process.
- Brush and floss regularly to avoid decay or infection. However, avoid brushing directly on the implant site for the first few days after surgery.
- Keep up with your biannual dental exams and cleanings
- Attend all scheduled follow-up appointments after dental implant placement.