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What is a dental implant procedure?

dental implant procedure medically accurate 3d illustration

The visible part of our teeth is called the crown, and below it is the root. A dental implant is a fixture surgically placed as a replacement for a damaged tooth. The implant is now the new root, and a prosthetic is place on the crown. Although in some cases, it could be a bridge or a denture.

A dental implant may involve several steps depending on the person. For instance, if a patient’s jawbone is inadequate to hold an implant in place, the dentist will perform a bone graft to ensure a stable ground to insert the implant.

What are the steps?

The procedural steps depend on several factors when performing a dental implant procedure. Factors such as the number of teeth involved, the quality and the amount of bone on the site, and the patient’s overall health, among others, can affect the implant procedure.

Here are 4 steps

  1. Complete Oral Assessment – The dentist will take a look into your overall oral health. In this step, a dentist will use either a CBCT scan or a CT scan. Using either scan will help accurately examine the site for the implant.
complete oral assessment before dental implant procedure

This phase also includes a tooth extraction or a bone restoration/bone graft to ensure a stable ground for the implant. The patient would have to wait up to three months if they recently got a tooth extracted to ensure the site is completely healed. 

Bone grafts/restoration will take a little bit longer to heal than an extraction.

  1. Placement of the implant – If the site is deemed adequate and the wounds are fully healed, the dentist will insert the implant. It usually takes about 3 to 6 months before the implant is ready.
  2. Whole mouth impression – An impression of the mouth will be handled by a dentist as a guide in creating a crown. 
  3. Installing the crown – If the implant is ready, a crown can now be installed. The crown is made from the impression, and it should look and feel like the original thing.

How long does the procedure take?

The entire dental implant procedure will take about an average of 3 to 6 months to complete. This is from consultation – implant insertion – crown placement.

dental implant treatment procedure

However, as individual needs vary, the actual time might be longer or shorter. A person who can recover faster will get to complete the procedure in a short time. 

In some cases, before an implant procedure, your dental care physician might require patients a tooth extraction. To ensure the site is healed completely after an extraction, they will have to wait at least three months. If the site needs a bone graft, it will take up to 6 months to fully recover.

Once the site is ready, the implant will be inserted. The implant needs at least 3 to 6 months before it is prepared to be crowned. 

The longest part of the entire dental implant procedure is the healing time. It is highly recommended to rest and eat a healthy diet to help the body cope faster.

How painful is it?

As it is an invasive procedure, a dental implant can hurt, pain and discomfort are to be expected. Naturally, anaesthetics or sedatives (if necessary) are part of the process. 

The implant placement requires the dentist

to cut into the gums and drill a hole into the bone base. While it sounds terrifying, there is no pain felt during the course. The most that you could feel is the downward or upward pressure during drilling and screwing. 

There will be mild pain and discomfort after the anaesthesia wears off and may require you to take a day or two off for rest. Dentists will prescribe over-the-counter medications to manage pain and prevent infection. 

Are you put to sleep during the surgery?

The type of anaesthetics or sedatives used will largely depend on the type of procedure done. 

A procedure for one or two implants does not require general anaesthesia. Local anaesthesia will suffice, and it’s pretty much like the ones used during regular tooth extraction. 

However, if surgery is required, such as bone grafting, general anaesthesia will be necessary. 

Another method of sedation that dentists use is called conscious sedation. It is a combination of medicines, including local anaesthesia and sedatives. 

You will be awake during the procedure in most cases, but you will be relaxed, and the pain is blocked. You will be drowsy but should still be able to respond non-verbally.

Most dentists prefer this method as it helps the patient recover faster after the procedure.

What is its downside?

A dental implant procedure is the gold standard of oral restoration. It is a better alternative to dentures or bridgework, and it looks and feels much like the real ones. 

However, it is not without risks and complications. Before going through the procedure, please check the pros and cons of dental implant procedures.

the good news about dental implant procedure

The good news:

1. It is aesthetically better – It is better, aesthetically, to other alternatives as it looks like a natural tooth.

2. It promotes good oral bone health – If a tooth is missing, the bone in the area, as well as other tissues, begin to deteriorate. If a dental implant is placed, it acts as a replacement for the missing root. As a result, bone and tissue degeneration is drastically decreased.

3. It is incredibly durable – A dental implant is a permanent solution. This means it can last a very long time, especially if the titanium implant has integrated into the bone. It is as durable as natural teeth without the worry of decay. 

4. It is like natural teeth – Teeth implants not only help you bring back the confidence in your smile it does not alter speech. Food tastes better as opposed to having dentures where the sense of taste suffers greatly. And it is durable. You can practically chew better than dentures. The risk of fully integrated implant damaged during eating is zero.

5. It is claimable under Medisave – A dental implant procedure is claimable under Medisave. And the benefits severely outweigh any cost. In our services, each implant charge is roughly about $2800 + GST (include 3-D CBCT analysis, implant crown fabrication, medications, and all the follow-up appointments necessary). 

If you have a Medisave (CPF) account, you are allowed to pay partially with it. Each implant can claim up to $950 each +$300 (Day surgery claim).

Please note that an additional bone grafting procedure may be required if there is insufficient bone for a dental implant, which can cost an extra $400 + GST.  

Upon consultation, a dentist will examine the area using a CBCT scan. The scope of the procedure will be determined immediately right after. 

A consultation with 3-D analysis is $180 + GST included in an implant package.

The (not so) bad news:

1. It is quite a lengthy process – The entire course will take months before it is completed. A massive percent of it is due to the healing time in between steps. 

2. Potential complications – As with any medical procedure, there will be potential complications, albeit rare. 

*Loose implant – If, for some reason, the implant does not integrate into the bone, the dentist may need to remove it and reinsert it again.

*Nerve or tissue damage – If the implant hit a nerve or was inserted too close to it, there will be numbness, pain, or general discomfort. 

  *Infection – Any invasive procedure can cause infection. 

*Other complications – there might be other complications that your dentist will tell you after consultation. 

Dental implants have high success rates, and you shouldn’t worry. However, it is still worth knowing about the potential complications. 

The success rate is mainly dependent on the overall health status of the patient. 

Persons who are diabetics, smokers, and those who take certain medicines might have a reduced success rate as their healing time is impaired. 

Generally, dental implants work, and it is highly recommended. Make sure to talk to your dentist and ask questions before going through the procedure.

So, are dental implants worth it?

With all things considered, it is arguably the best option for teeth replacement. The pros incredibly outweigh the cons. And while it takes time, it is worth it.

Having a dental implant procedure is a great way to bring back the confidence in your smile and the joy in eating.

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