No one likes the thought of losing their teeth, but sadly for some of us this is a reality.
You can lose a tooth through decay, damage, trauma or just wear and tear, leaving you with gaps in your lovely natural smile. This doesn’t only look bad, but it can also cause damage to the teeth around it. So instead of leaving it as a gap, you can get it filled in with an artificial tooth, also known as a dental implant. Having a dental implant can help restore your smile and protect the teeth around it.
The average dental implant treatment takes between 3-6 months from start to finish with 4-5 visits to the dentist during that time.
To help you understand your dental implant journey, we’ve put together this little guide.
Appointment 1 – Consultation
Dr Martin will:-
- perform a thorough examination of your damaged tooth or gap, as well the teeth around it
- undertake a full jaw examination to assess if there is any further damage to take into account
- review your medical history
- take X-Rays
- make impressions of your teeth and gums so that your dental implant treatment can begin
In some cases, where he sees potential problems he may also do a scan of your mouth to assess how much jawbone is available to hold your dental implants in place. It will also show him where your sinuses and nerves are so he can avoid them during the surgery. If this scan shows that your jawbone is eroded or damaged enough to cause problems, then Dr Martin will discuss ways that he can build up your bone. This process is called bone grafting, which involves adding processed bone or synthetic materials onto your jawbone to build a strong surface, if you need bone grafting it could take between 4 to 12 months before your jawbone is ready to receive your dental implant.
Appointment 2 – Dental Implant Placement
The placement of your dental implant can be done very quickly if no extra procedures are needed to get started. However, if Dr Whelan has decided you do need bone grafting before the procedure, it can be delayed by 5 to 12 months.
The placement of the implant is fairly simple. Dr Martin will use a personalised guide over your gap to show him where the implant will need to be placed before drilling a small hole into your jawbone. Then he will use a sequence of slightly bigger drills, gradually widening the hole for your dental implant to sit in comfortably. The actual dental implant is then placed gently into the hole and screwed in place. This is then left to heal for a few months. During this time your bone will fuse with the dental implant material, creating a solid base for your upper crown to be fitted to. You won’t be able to see any difference in your teeth yet, as the implant sits below your gum line. So for now, you’ll still just have a gap.
Appointment 3 – The Healing Collar/Temporary Crown
Once your dental implant has successfully fused with the bone in your jaw and healed, you’re ready for your second surgery.
This involves making a small incision in your gums around your dental implant to expose it slightly.
A healing collar or a temporary crown is then placed on the head of the implant. There isn’t much difference between the two, it’s usually the dentist’s choice. This procedure is done to encourage the gum tissue to heal correctly around the collar and hold the gum away from the dental implant itself, which allows for easy placement of the final crown later on. A healing collar or temporary crown will be left in place for around 10-14 days, while a temporary crown will need to be in place for 4-6 weeks to be effective.
Appointment 4 – Placement Of Permanent Crown
This is the final stage of your dental implant treatment, and it’s usually around 5-11 months after your initial consultation and fitting. As soon as your collar or temporary crown is fitted, Dr Martin will start working on your permanent crown. This part of the process takes between 2-3 weeks, which gives you plenty of time for your mouth to fully heal.
The final crown can be fitted to your dental implant in 2 ways, depending on your preference:
- It can be cemented onto your dental implant base
- It can be screwed in
Dr Martin will have discussed both of these options with you beforehand, so you know what to expect. In general, cemented crowns will often look better in the long term because there is no screw hole in the crown that could be visible after wear, but a screw in crown can be easier for Dr Martin to remove in case there are problems later down the line. Once your permanent crown is in place you’ll need to care for your dental implant the same way you care for your natural teeth – brush and floss regularly, and make sure you don’t eat anything too crunchy that could cause it to crack.
Appointment 5 – Check Up
Around 6 months after your permanent crown is fitted you will need to see Dr Martin for a check-up. During this visit he will do a routine examination of all your teeth and your dental implant, and ask how you are finding your new crown.
If you are experiencing any discomfort or your crown is wobbling, cracking or loose, Dr Martin will be able to fix it. However, these complications are very rare, and 99% of dental implant check-ups are uneventful, routine check-ups.
Overall your dental implant procedure at Appledore should be painless, and you will only need anaesthetic for appointments 2 and 3. If there are no complications you will be enjoying your complete smile in no time.
For FAQ’s about dental implants in Milton Keynes please click here