Dental implants are metal anchors placed in the jawbone underneath the gum tissue to support artificial teeth where natural teeth are missing. Unlike other types of tooth replacements, such as removable dentures or fixed bridges that are cemented to remaining teeth, dental implants are actually placed (‘implanted’) into the jaw bone under the gum tissue. These implants are usually made from a metal called titanium, which is readily accepted by the body, and to the implants. Accepted by the American Dental Association, dental implants have been used for many years, and hundreds of thousands have been placed. Due to a phenomenon known as “osteointegration” meaning that bone actually attaches itself to the implant, these anchors provide a strong foundation that allows people with missing teeth to chew efficiently and comfortably. WHO NEEDS IMPLANTS? Anyone who is missing teeth and can benefit from increased chewing efficiency, and improved appearance or speech, is a candidate for dental implants. Implants can be the solution when it has become difficult or impossible to wear a removable denture. Portions of the jaw that are missing due to an accident, disease, or birth defect can often be reconstructed using implants. Consultation A thorough oral examination and medical consultation by your general dentist and our office for implant treatment is necessary to determine if you are a candidate for dental implants. Working as a team, our office places the implants and, after healing takes place, your dentist designs and places the artificial teeth that are supported by the implants. During the examination, you will give a complete medical history. Be sure to give all information, including any health problems, allergies or medications you are taking. Your examination may include several types of x-rays to provide essential information about the jaw bone and its anatomy, models of your jaws, and possibly certain blood tests. Based on the results of this examination, we will discuss all aspects of your case with you. Together you will decide if dental implants are appropriate for you. Stage 1 Surgery The first surgical procedure for implants involves placing the implants in the bone. This surgery can take place in our surgeon’s office. Local anesthesia, a mild sedative, or in certain cases general anesthesia may be recommended. Post Op Immediately following surgery you may be asked to bite on some gauze to stop any bleeding, and an ice pack may be used during the first 24 hours to help reduce swelling. Expect some swelling in the area of the implant surgery for up to 72 hours following the procedure, as well as some discoloration of the skin and gums for a few days. Pain medication prescribed by your surgeon will help alleviate any discomfort, and you should be able to resume normal activities within a day or two. Your surgeon may also prescribe antibiotics. Expect some minor bleeding on the day of surgery, but report excessive bleeding to your surgeon immediately. During this time a soft diet is recommended. Stage 2 Surgery Stage 2 is the second surgical procedure that takes place after healing from Stage 1 is complete. It usually takes 3-6 months for implants to become stable in the bone before stage 2 surgery can be performed. At stage 2 surgery, the implants are exposed to the oral cavity using various types of posts placed upon the implants called abutments. These abutments can be healing abutments or prosthetic. The healing abutments allow for the gums to heal and reform around the implant. The prosthetic abutment is used to accept a crown to be placed over the implant. We can place either type upon your dentist request. Following Stage 2 Surgery After returning home, eat a soft diet and follow your surgeon’s oral hygiene instructions. Expect some minor bleeding, but report excessive bleeding or swelling to your surgeon. You will return to your surgeon within a few days so that healing progress can be monitored, and if you wear a denture, it may be placed immediately or shortly after surgery. This will be determined by your dentist on an individual basis.