Although dental implants are the best long term solution to any missing tooth, they can require a long and often uncertain process. Dental implants are great because they simulate the root of a tooth and work as part of your body; they prevent bone loss and are virtually unnoticeable. If you have missing teeth and are interested in getting implants to replace them, here is how it works.
Step 1. A thorough clinical and radiographic examination.
The first step is getting acquainted with the panorama. The dentist will take a 3D CT Scan in order to measure the type, quantity, and quality of the bone around the area. A dental implant is drilled into hard bone. Therefore, its characteristics considerably influence the success of the implant. Factors like severe periodontal illness, osteoporosis, heavy smoking, and diabetes can suppose a risk because they directly affect the bone quality. This is the step where your dentist will present all the risks.
Step 2. The surgical guide
The second step will not require of the patient´s presence, as it involves essentially planning the surgery. Now that it has been determined you are a candidate for a dental implant, a dentist will use the scan in order to plan which implant size and angle will work best. This is a time of discussion between the dentist and the surgeon, since he or she must in the end approve of the parameters under which the dentist plans the surgery. The surgeon will usually offer his opinion and suggestions. With his approval, the dentist will then start to design a surgical guide, which is then fabricated with 3D printer.
Step 3. The Surgery
The surgery is when the patient comes and meets the surgeon. By this time, the surgeon is fully acquainted with the case, has the surgical guide at hand, and is now ready to simply place the implant. If he uses guided surgery, he will also have the guided surgery kit at hand. The surgeon will place topical anesthesia on the area and then provide a novocaine shot until there is virtually no sensation. He will then put the surgical guide in place and start the drilling process. The burs are ordered from shortest to longest until he has drilled enough to fit the dental implant. He will place it and torque it.
Step 4. Osseointegration
After the implant is placed follows the most important part of the procedure. The implant is designed to allow microscopic particles of bone cells stick into and around it. After some months these particles harden and become solid bone. This process is known as osseointegration. It is the most important part of the procedure because if this does not occur properly, the implant cannot be restored. Although this is a process that occurs naturally, the post operative instructions are very important in order to avoid any kind of infection that may prevent or delay the integration. This process takes 4-5 months for normal dental implants.
Step 5. The implant restoration
The implant restoration involves two parts, the abutment and the final crown. When the patient returns for the second stage of the implant, the dentist will first find and uncover the implant that has now been covered by soft gum tissue. The next step is to torque the implant again in order to test the integration; at this stage, it should not move. If it passes the test, it is time to take impressions and send them to the dental laboratory for the crown fabrication. In the meantime, the patient has a healing cap screwed into the implant to keep gum tissue from covering it again. The lab will customize the abutment for an ideal height and design a crown that adjusts perfectly to the esthetic requirements of the patient and the dentist. When the crown is ready, the dentist screws the abutment into the implant and sits the crown over it. After everything has been approved, he will either permanently cement or screw the crown into the abutment.
After this process, your dental implant will be completed. There should be no more gaps that diminish your chewing power or that make you feel self-conscious. At the Costa Rica Dental Team, we strive to make this process as easy and comfortable as possible. We also believe that our patients should be informed during all steps. If you are considering a dental implant in the near future, please do not hesitate to contact us more details.