Dental implants are considered the gold standard when it comes to replacing teeth because they address tooth loss both above and below the gum line. Unless you’re getting immediate-load dental implants, the process takes some time and patience, but when all is said and done, you’ll be left with a lifelong solution that functions, looks, and feels very much like your natural teeth. Here’s a step-by-step guide to dental implants to help you understand what to expect.
The first step in getting dental implants is meeting with Dr. Liao for a consultation. During this appointment, he will examine your teeth and gums, review your medical and dental histories, and discuss your treatment goals with you. This information will help him determine if you’re a candidate for dental implants and the type of implant-based restoration that is best for your needs.
Should you decide to move forward with dental implants, digital x-rays and impressions are taken so Dr. Liao can ensure that you have adequate jawbone support for implants and plan your implant surgery and restorations. Digital imaging also lets us create a model of your teeth and jaw so you can see a preview of your smile once your dental work is complete.
For some patients, the next step in the process is getting dental implants. For others, additional procedures are needed to prepare for implant surgery. It’s important that you have healthy teeth and gums to maximize your chances of successful implant placement.
Some of the most common supplemental procedures include tooth extractions, bone grafting, and sinus lifts. The latter two procedures restore the jawbone if it has broken down as a result of your tooth loss.
Dental Implant Placement
After you’ve healed from any supplemental procedures, we’ll set up an appointment to place your dental implants. During this procedure, Dr. Liao makes a small incision in your gums and places biocompatible dental implants into the jawbone. You’ll be given local anesthesia to keep you comfortable, but you can also choose to have nitrous oxide or laughing gas, conscious oral sedation, or IV sedation if you need help relaxing or would prefer to sleep through your surgery.
The most important step in the dental implant process comes after dental implant placement, and it doesn’t even occur at our office! This step is called osseointegration, and it’s the process in which your new dental implants and your jawbone fuse together, creating a stable base of support for a restoration.
Most implant-supported restorations require abutments, which are small pieces that connect dental implants to restorations. Once osseointegration is complete, the abutments are attached to the implants and another set of digital impressions is taken to help us create a restoration that fits onto your abutments and interacts well with adjacent teeth.
The dental implant process is almost complete! After your restoration has been fabricated, you’ll return to our office so Dr. Liao can attach it to your abutments. You’ll leave our office with a restored sense of self-confidence and a beautiful new smile!