Reclaim a healthy and beautiful smile designed to last a lifetime.

Although it’s the placement of implants directly in your jawbone that makes them such an effective treatment–giving them the natural, deep-rooted stability of tooth roots–it’s also this aspect that makes people the most nervous about receiving the treatment. It’s easy for the often lengthy process to sound intimidating or overwhelming, especially when you aren’t sure what to expect from it. While it’s true that the dental implant process can take several months, most of this time is spent recovering between procedures.

Understanding each step of the dental implant process can help it feel less intimidating or overwhelming, making the process less stressful and much more positive overall. Plus, when the process is complete, you’ll have a beautiful, functional, and healthy smile that’s designed just for you—and meant to last you a lifetime! To help you gain all the information you need to feel comfortable deciding if this process is right for you, we’ve put together a guide walking you through each step of the dental implant process.

Who needs a dental implant?

Implants are an incredibly versatile treatment. A single dental implant can be secured with a dental crown to replace one missing tooth, or multiple implants can be secured with a bridge, partial dentures, or full dentures to replace multiple missing teeth.

As a result, almost anyone who has lost one or more teeth is a potential candidate for dental implants. This means that if you’re missing even a single tooth, it’s worth asking Dr. May about the possibility of replacing it with a dental implant!

First, visit your dentist for a dental implant consultation.

If you’re interested in getting one or more dental implants, your first visit with Dr. May will be a consultation to answer any questions you may have and determine whether you’re a good candidate for the procedure. There are several factors that Dr. May will need to consider here, including your bone density and current oral health.

After all, dental implants are embedded directly into your jawbone, so you need a healthy amount of bone to support them, and it’s important to have good oral health before undergoing an implant placement procedure to decrease the risk of complications like infections. Dr. May will use several methods to determine if you’re a good candidate for implants, including a physical examination of your teeth and X-rays. To learn more about what this first visit will involve, check out the video on pre-op implant visits.

Even if you’ve experienced significant bone loss or have oral health issues like gum disease, it doesn’t mean that an implant is out of the question! Dr. May can work with you using treatments like a bone graft to increase your bone density or periodontal treatments to get your gum health back to its best. These steps might take some time, but it’s worth it for many people. This kind of restoration improves your overall oral health and helps you qualify for dental implants, ensuring that you can regain your naturally beautiful, functional, and healthy smile.

Next, they’ll embed titanium posts in your jaw.

Once these issues are ruled out or taken care of, Dr. May will perform your first procedure, which is an outpatient surgery to place the titanium post that will serve as your new tooth root into your jaw. During this procedure, Dr. May will simply make an incision in your gums, place the titanium posts, and stitch them back up over them. You’ll need to heal for several months after this procedure, as your jawbone needs this time to heal and grow around the titanium posts.

This healing and growth process is actually the reason why the posts are made of titanium. They’re biocompatible, which means your body recognizes them as part of itself. The bone grows up around the titanium and fuses to it just like it would a natural tooth root, holding it more firmly in place. This process, called osseointegration, takes time and can’t be rushed, though, which is why you’ll need to wait several months for your next procedure.

Then, they’ll scan your mouth to create a digital impression.

Creating an impression of your mouth is a vital step in the dental implant process because it is what’s used to help create tooth replacement options like your new porcelain dental crown. This step usually happens either just before or after your first procedure, depending on your unique case. It used to be done using messy, goopy putty that was placed over your teeth in a mold, but advanced dental technology has changed all that for the better!

Now, Dr. May uses a Primescan digital scanner to get a digital impression of your mouth. There’s no uncomfortable or messy goop. Instead, he simply passes a wand that’s about the size of an electric toothbrush over your teeth. The process is incredibly quick and comfortable, and it creates a highly accurate 3D model of your teeth and bite. This model will help us create a more comfortable and beautiful tooth restoration that fits your smile perfectly.

After that, they’ll place the abutment in your mouth.

Abutments are pieces of metal that are attached to the titanium posts in your jaw to serve as the connection point between the posts and your dental restoration. It’s this vital piece of metal that holds your restoration in place. Securing the abutment onto your implant is sometimes completed during your first procedure, but other times it’s done as its own step once your jawbone has had time to heal.

If it’s done as a separate procedure, it’s a pretty simple process. Dr. May will once again numb your mouth and make a small incision over your implant. He’ll secure the abutment, then may add a couple of stitches to make your gums snug around it, but the abutment will remain sticking out of your gums. Your gums will only need a few weeks to heal before you come back to our office for the final step of your dental implant process.

Finally, they’ll replace your missing tooth with a restoration!

Securing your new dental restoration over your implant is the easiest—and final—step of your dental implant process. Dr. May will numb your mouth again to ensure that the process is as comfortable as possible. He will then place your restoration, such as your new porcelain crown, over your implant.

He’ll check your bite a few times to ensure that it’s lined up perfectly and feels natural before completely securing the crown in place. Once your crown is seated, you’re done! You can leave our office with your new tooth and beautifully refreshed smile.

Taking care of your new tooth is key.

When you get a dental implant, it’s vital to take great care of it to prevent issues like peri-implantitis. This is a condition where the gums around your implant become inflamed and infected, leading to the deterioration of the bone that’s supporting your implant. If left untreated, this can cause the implant to fail.

Thankfully, caring for your implant is incredibly easy—just as easy as it is to care for the rest of your teeth! All you need to do is practice a great at-home oral hygiene routine, including brushing your teeth for at least two minutes twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and using mouthwash daily. If you faithfully practice a great oral hygiene routine like this, your implant should remain healthy and strong for a lifetime.

Metro East Dental Care is a team experienced in delivering state-of-the-art dental implants.

While getting a dental implant can sound intimidating at first, it’s the best treatment for a missing tooth that modern dentistry can provide—and you don’t have to do it alone! Dr. May and the rest of our dental care team will be with you every step of the way through this process, so you can always contact our team if you have any questions or concerns at any point.

If you’d like to learn more about getting a dental implant in Granite City, Illinois, feel free to schedule a consultation with Dr. May at any time.