If you’re considering dental implants as a long-term solution for tooth loss, you might have some questions before proceeding with treatment. What can you expect with this procedure? How do you prepare? Can dental implants really help you regain a brilliant, healthy smile? Dr. John P. Freeman, one of the premier oral and maxillofacial surgeons in Katy, Texas, has addressed some of the topics that come up most frequently with dental implants to help you learn more about this procedure. Keep reading to find out what you can expect from the dental implant process and how this technique can change your life.
Dental implants are used to replace lost or missing teeth. The implants themselves are durable posts or screws that are inserted into the mouth and embedded into your jawbone, acting as a support for artificial teeth. But dental implants don’t just restore your smile — they also improve oral functioning and stimulate bone growth, combating the deterioration of the jawbone. Unfortunately, this is a common side effect of missing teeth, but no other dental restoration procedure can prevent or reverse bone loss. Dental implants also don’t affect your surrounding, healthy teeth and often blend in seamlessly within your mouth.
Dental implant procedures can often be a one-step process that takes several months of healing to complete. While dental implants provide long-lasting results, don’t expect a quick fix. Here’s a breakdown of the treatment process, so you’ll know what to expect.
First, you will need to consult with Dr. Freeman to determine if you’re a good candidate for dental implants, where he will do a physical exam. If missing teeth have caused significant bone loss, a bone graft may be recommended.
If you need a large bone graft, this will have to happen before you receive your dental implants. When you lose a tooth, the daily pressures that are normally exerted on the jawbone are no longer active, causing the body to reabsorb some of the bone material. Bone grafting restores the bone that was lost, so that implants can be placed in the mouth. This process can add several months to your overall treatment time.
In some cases, you might be dealing with damaged or unhealthy teeth that can’t be salvaged. These will have to be extracted first, if they haven’t been already. Simple extractions may be completed the same day as your implant placement, but more involved surgical extractions might require additional healing time. Each situation is different, but Dr. Freeman will examine your mouth and decide whether an extraction and implant placement can be done together.
Once your mouth is ready, the dental implant procedure consists of several steps. First, the implant will be inserted into your mouth. Dr. Freeman does this by drilling into the jawbone and securing the implant firmly in place. In some cases, you’ll receive your new teeth immediately, otherwise healing caps or temporary devices may be used while waiting for the next step to be complete: osseointegration.
Osseointegration is the process of allowing your new implants to fuse with your jawbone. This ensures that your new teeth will be secure. It typically takes about three months for the implants to fully integrate into your mouth, but this can vary depending on your bone health.
After your mouth has healed and osseointegration is complete, Dr. Freeman or your general dentist will attach anchor posts, or abutments, onto your implants. These are screwed into the implant post and provide a stable foundation for your crowns. After this step, it takes about two weeks for your gums to heal before you can have your new teeth installed.
Your regular dentist will place your custom crowns onto your abutments. These will serve as your new, permanent teeth, which will look and feel natural. Other than maintaining good oral hygiene, no special care is required to maintain your dental implants.
You might not know how to prepare for dental implants before first meeting with Dr. Freeman. Bone and tissue loss aren’t always obvious, even if you’ve had missing or lost teeth for years. It can also be hard to know if a damaged or unhealthy tooth can be salvaged before a thorough examination of your mouth. That’s why one of the first steps in preparing for a dental implant procedure is to schedule a consultation with an experienced dentist or oral surgeon.
Because dental implants can be a long, drawn-out process depending on your needs, you’ll also need to prepare yourself mentally for this procedure. Ask questions, do your research and schedule accordingly to minimize disruption to your daily life. Make sure you have enough time off to rest and recuperate after each step. As you get closer to your procedure day, Dr. Freeman may have more specific instructions on how to prepare, including medication guidelines, stopping smoking and avoiding alcohol. He’ll also provide aftercare details to ensure your mouth and gums heal properly.
The biggest advantage of dental implants is the positive effect they can have on your quality of life. Dental implants will not only improve your oral health, but they’ll also boost your confidence and help you regain a beautiful smile. And because each crown is custom made to fit your mouth, only you and your dentist will know they’re there. Your dental implants will also feel comfortable and provide more durability than other treatment options. You won’t have to worry about them slipping or deal with the potential embarrassment of gaps or dentures.
Dental implants can help you regain the beautiful smile you deserve while improving your overall health and wellness. Dr. Freeman offers a full scope of oral and maxillofacial surgical options in a comfortable, safe setting where you can feel confident about your procedure. If you’re ready to learn more about dental implants or have additional questions, contact or call Dr. John P. Freeman’s clinic in Katy, Texas, today at 281-599-9445.