A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is placed into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge. Dental implants may be an option for people who have lost a tooth or teeth due to periodontal disease, an injury, or some other reason.
The length of time your operation takes will vary depending on how many implants you’re having inserted and how complicated the procedure is. It’s possible to have several implants fitted in the same operation, this will take longer.
Once the anaesthetic has taken effect, your dentist will make a cut in your gum and drill a small hole in your jawbone. The implant will fit into this hole.
If you’re having any teeth removed before dental implant surgery, your dentist may be able to put an implant straight into your tooth socket. This is called an immediate implant. If this isn’t possible, your dentist will fit the implant after a few weeks, which is called an immediate-delayed implant. Sometimes he or she will fit it after several months once your jawbone has had time to heal – this is called a delayed implant.
Immediate and delayed implants can be done in one or two stages.
- In one-stage treatment, the implant rod and the abutment that attaches the implant to the false tooth are fitted at the same time.
- In two-stage treatment, the implant rod will be buried under your gum while your bone heals (you won’t see it in your mouth). You will have another operation a few months later to attach the abutment.
Your dentist may attach artificial teeth on the same day that you have the implant. However, usually you will need to wait between three and six months to allow your mouth to heal. Your dentist may fit a temporary bridge or partial dentures so you can’t see the spaces between your teeth. If you usually wear complete dentures, they can be adjusted so that you can wear them throughout this time.
After your mouth has healed, you will have a second operation to uncover the gum over the top of the implant. Your dentist will then fit your artificial tooth or teeth onto the implant. The teeth may be fixed in place or you may be able to remove them when you need to clean them. Your dentist will ensure that they fit properly, match your other teeth and feel comfortable.