Stage 1: Placing the Dental Implant Into the Jawbone

The first stage in the dental implant procedure involves surgically implanting a titanium post, which comes in the form of a screw or cylinder, into the patients jawbone. This stage takes approximately 1 to 2 hours where the following steps are taken:
● Anesthesia is given to the patient to eliminate any potential discomfort
● The gum tissue surrounding the area that will receive the implant is cut open and peeled back
● A small hole is drilled into the jawbone where the titanium post will be placed
● The titanium post is placed into the hole leaving it at the same level of the jawbone
● The gum tissue is stitched up, covering the titanium post so that it can heal without being interrupted Once this procedure is complete it can take up to 6 months for the titanium post to fuse with the surrounding jawbone. This fusion, known as osseointegration, is required for the titanium post to be as strong as a natural tooth root before the next stage can begin. During this waiting period a removable artificial tooth will be given to the patient for aesthetic purposes.

Stage 2: Attaching an Abutment to the Dental Implant

After the healing period has passed, the dentist will examine the strength of the titanium post to ensure that it has fully integrated with the bone. Once the dental implant is strong enough to support a permanent artificial tooth, a second minor surgical procedure is done to attach an abutment to the implant. The abutment acts as a sort of connector between the titanium post and the crown that will be placed in the next stage. To place the abutment, the following procedure is completed:
● Anesthesia is once again given to the patient to eliminate any potential discomfort
● The gum tissue is cut open so that the abutment can be attached to the underlying implant
● The gum tissue is stitched up, only this time the abutment will protrude past the gum tissue
After completing this procedure it will take a few weeks for the gum tissue to heal around the abutment before the final stage can be completed.

Stage 3: Attaching the Crown to the Abutment

Once the gum tissue has fully healed around the abutment, it is time for the final stage. In this stage an artificial tooth, known as a crown, is permanently attached to the abutment giving the patient a brand new tooth which not only likes like a natural tooth, but feels like one too. This tooth must be cared for just like a natural tooth with daily brushing and regular professional cleaning.<br>

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Dental Implants History

Dating as far back as 4,000 years ago in ancient Chinese civilizations, dental implants have been used to replace missing or severely damaged teeth. Back then they were nowhere near as sophisticated as modern day implants of course, but they did follow a similar concept; create a prosthesis used to mimic the tooth root which is then implanted directly into the jawbone. 4,000 years ago the ancient Chinese civilizations used carved bamboo pegs that were taped into the jawbone and today we used titanium posts that are surgically placed into the jawbone; same concept, different materials and procedures. So how exactly does the modern day dental implant procedure work? In this article we dive deep into the dental implant procedure, explaining step-by-step how it works and what makes it such a successful approach to replacing missing teeth

Preliminary Procedures

Anyone desiring to receive dental implant surgery must first undergo some diagnostic testing, usually in the form of an x-ray or, if necessary, a CT scan. An x-ray of the site that will receive the implant is initially taken to determine the health of the underlying jawbone that will be fitted with an implant. If the area looks healthy enough to support an implant and the patient has good overall health, no further tests will be required. In some cases, where the x-ray shows that the jawbone has begun to deteriorate, more detailed scans may be required. In these circumstances a CT scan may be taken which will provide much more detailed cross sectional views of the jawbone. This will allow the dental specialist to get a good grasp of how strong the supporting jawbone structure is. Based on this analysis, the dental surgeon will be able to determine what type of dental implant to use on the patient and if bone grafting will be necessary to strengthen the jawbone prior to placing implants.

Bone Grafting

If the CT scan reveals that the patients jawbone has diminished and is not high enough to support dental implants, bone grafting will be necessary prior to placing the implants. Bone grafting is a surgical procedure which entails adding bone or bone-like material to the patients jawbone in order to raise it’s height to an acceptable level. This process can take up to 9 months to fully heal before implants can be inserted into the newly strengthened jawbone.
Some materials that are used in this procedure include:
● The patients own bone, taken from their chin, shin or hip;
● Bone taken from a cadaver;
● Animal bone, usually taken from a cow, or;
● Synthetic bone-like material

For patients whose jawbone is not wide enough, they will have two options;
1. bone grafting to widen the bone, or;
2. Miniature dental implants (MDIs) - a narrower dental implant post that can be securely placed into thinner jawbones

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