The dental implant procedure
Having one or more dental implants installed means that you will undergo a treatment that is divided in three different treatment stages, spread over 6-8 visits. The treatment time can vary between 3-12 months.
In the different stages, patients will undergo a preliminary examination, preparation, installation of the dental implants (titanium screws), check up, prosthetic work, and follow-up examination.
The number of treatments needed and the treatment period will be determined by bone quality, and the patient’s other conditions and needs.
How painful are dental implants?
How much discomfort a patient may experience from a dental implant procedure varies from person to person, just like regular dental visits. Implant surgery is usually performed under pre-medication along with sedation and local dental anesthesia. The other visits can be compared to regular dental visits.
You can choose the type of pain relief for the different stages and there are many clinics with treatment procedures aimed for people who more or less suffer from dental fear.
Following the implant surgery, the treated area may be swollen, tender or sore for a few days, and ordinary painkillers are usually sufficient.
Preparatory consultation and assessment
The first step to a dental implant procedure is that the patient chooses, or is referred to a clinic performing the treatment. You can find them in the clinic directory, where clinics performing dental implants are listed.
If you are missing a single tooth, you will most likely be recommended an implant with a crown. However, if you are missing several teeth, it will either be several individual implants with crowns or alternatively a bridge solution, which is a series of connected artificial teeth that are attached to two or more implants.
If you need to replace all of you teeth, an implant-supported full denture is used and is typically supported with 4-6 dental implants in the jaw.
Stage 1 – Preparation
Before a dental implant procedure, a thorough examination and preparation is performed. This is done to choose the right strategy and create an environment in your mouth suitable for the implant fixture.
The first step is to undergo a thorough examination and dental x-ray of your teeth and jawbone.
If it is found that the quantity or quality of the tooth bone is not good enough, you must transplant bone from another place of the body in order to support the dental implants.
The jawbone and teeth must be in good health, infection-free and properly healed from any previous dentistry.
When you have achieved a clean and healthy mouth to attach and stabilize the implant, the preparatory work is completed. This may take one day to several months, depending on the starting point.
Step 2 – Installation of dental implants
The dental implant placement procedure may be performed by a one-stage or two-stage surgery.
Option 1 – the common two stage surgery
The two-stage surgery involves surgically placing the fixture – a type of screw into the jawbone, during the first surgery. Then a cover screw is placed on top of the implant in order to protect it, while the entire fixture is covered with the gum. Thereafter the dental implant is left to heal for 3-6 months.
During the healing process, temporary replacement teeth can be provided if necessary.
After the implant fixture has integrated with the bone, the gum is opened up and the cover screw is removed. There will be space between the implant fixtures, in order to place the prosthetic reconstruction.
Option 2 – the simple one stage surgery
One stage surgery involves surgically placing the implant, which is then fitted with a healing cap/healing abutment. It does not cover the implant with the mucosa. In this way, the prosthetic treatment is started immediately after the healing, without the need of any additional surgery.
According to a report by the National Board of Health and Welfare in Sweden (ISBN: 91-7201-810-0) several studies have compared the simpler one stage surgery with the two-stage surgery without being able to prove any significant differences between the two techniques in terms of success rate.
If early and immediate loading of dental implants
Normally, it takes 3-6 months for dental implants to heal and before being loaded with the implant crown, bridge or denture. Meanwhile, the patient will most likely use temporary prosthesis.
Many studies suggest that early loading of dental implant may not increase early or long-term complications, however it is possible to load dental implants immediately or after 2-3 weeks after implant placement.
Early or immediate loading of dental implant reduces the treatment time, only a surgical procedure is needed, no removable prosthesis is needed and the patient gets an immediate good aesthetic and functional result.
However, there are dentists who believe that the technique of early or immediate loading is not substantiated enough to be considered as safe.
Stage 3 – Attaching new set of permanent replacement teeth.
In cases, where immediate loading implant is not used, one is required to go back to the clinic in order to have the final “new” teeth placed.
The new teeth are made in a dental laboratory and customized to fit your mouth and preferences. The shape is based on an impression of the implants taken. The tooth shaped implant is made after an imprint taken during previous visit.