The stages involved in getting a dental implant can be broken down into specific phases; the preparatory, surgical and the restorative phase. The first stage is the information gathering, assessment and planning phase. This may involve extraction and/or bone grafting to prepare the site to receive the fixture. The second stage is the surgical phase when the implant fixture is placed into your jaw bone. The third, the restorative stage is when the final implant crown is placed on top of the implant fixture. Generally, the time between the second and third phase is three months. Of course, this can vary with each individual case and if bone grafting is involved, it adds a further six months to the process. During the time in between those phases, the fixture integrates into your jaw allowing the bone to grow thus securing the fixture. A dental implant comprises of three parts, the fixture, the abutment and the implant crown.
The implant fixture and healing abutment
On the day of your implant surgery, a healing abutment is placed on top of your new implant fixture that helps shape the healing gum. This is left for the entire integration process which is usually three months. During that time the expected outcome is that the implant fixture will integrate into the jaw bone. As we do not load the crown (tooth) component immediately a partial denture can be worn if it’s a front tooth. Another method is to make plastic translucent trays, much like bleach trays, and place your original tooth in there to fill the gap.
Post Implant Fixture Surgery
On the day of surgery please abstain from alcohol, it is also advisable for a couple of days after your surgery that you take it easy and not engage in any strenuous exercise. The reason for this is to keep your blood pressure down and this will assist with healing. You will be given a post-operative mouthwash to use twice a day for the first two weeks after surgery. Other than that you can continue as normal. Most patients are completely comfortable and pain free.
After your post-operative appointment a couple weeks later, a date will be made for a review appointment. As you can see in the picture, the healing abutment is covering the surgical site. You will notice that there are no sutures present. This is because your implant will be placed under the guidance of a microscope using keyhole surgery.
At the review appointment, Dr. Skinner will run diagnostic tests and take an x-ray to assess whether the implant fixture has integrated. When he is satisfied that it has, impressions will be taken for the fabrication of the crown. We can arrange to have this done at the same appointment. The impression is taken by placing a tray with fast setting impression material into your mouth until it sets. The impressions are then sent to the dental laboratory, where a tailor-made for your mouth will be fabricated. The dental laboratory requires three weeks to make your implant crown.
The importance of taking the correct shade
A shade will also be taken at this appointment, to ensure that the colour of the crown matches your natural teeth. The colour of teeth varies depending on genetics, age, their position in your mouth and other factors such as diet and lifestyle. Be aware if you would like to lighten your teeth at some stage please let your dentist know, so this can be planned for, as crowns cannot be lightened.