While modern dental implants, such as the All-on-4 implant system, have drastically streamlined the process, most patients who undergo traditional implant placement will experience three separate procedure steps. These may be broken up into 2 to 3 appointments depending on the type of implant you choose as well as your specific clinical needs.
To understand the 3-step process of getting dental implants, it is best to first learn about the three basic components of a dental implant. Working from the bottom to the top, there is the implant itself, the abutment and an implant restoration (artificial tooth).
The implant is the titanium screw or post that is surgically inserted into your jawbone. Over time, the implant fuses to the surrounding bone to act like an artificial tooth root. The abutment part of the implant is a small connector piece that attaches to the implant but rests just above the gum line. The abutment is what connects your implant to the prosthetic tooth or teeth on top. Finally, there is the implant restoration or the artificial tooth. This is the visible part of your implant, as it replicates your natural tooth in look, feel and function. Depending on your specific needs in tooth replacement, the implant restoration can be a crown, bridge, partial or denture.
Now that you understand the three parts of a dental implant, you can begin to understand why the most common approach is to separate the process it three distinct procedure steps.
Step 1: Placing the Implant
Once your dentist has determined (through xrays) that you have enough bone density and height to support an implant, it is time for your oral surgery. The first step is to bury the implant post into your jawbone. This is a step that requires a period of healing to allow the implant to fuse to the surrounding bone, a process called ossointegration. Three to six months is the average time frame for this to occur, and it is considered one of the most important steps towards you overall implant success.
Step 2: Placing the Abutment
The abutment is a post that attaches the implant to the prosthetic tooth or teeth. It can be considered as a bridge that spans through the gum line. The abutment placement also requires a healing stage, as the surrounding gum tissues must heal and form a “cuff” around the abutment before the implant restoration can be placed on top.
Step 3: Placing Prosthetic Tooth
Once the implant site and abutment have properly healed and merged with your natural bone and tissues, the implant restoration or artificial tooth can be secured on top. A careful set of measurements will be taken prior to the appointment, as the crown, bridge or denture will be custom crafted to meet your goals. Placing the prosthetic tooth is an easy and non-invasive step in the process – and it is one that allows you to walk away with a beautiful and confident smile.
Ready to get dental implants? It’s as easy as 1-2-3! While we’ve provided a simple overview of the process, we are happy to explain the procedure in more detail as it relates to your unique restorative needs. Call Dr. Wayne Suway today to schedule your consult in Marietta.