Overview of Implant Placement

What Are Dental Implants?

A natural tooth consists of a root and a crown. If you compare natural teeth to implant-supported replacement teeth, you’ll see they have the same basic parts. Both have a crown (the visible part used to chew food). Both have a root that holds the tooth securely under the gum and is anchored into the jaw. The difference is that the implant is made of titanium – the same time-tested material used by surgeons for artificial joints. When you lose a tooth, you lose both the root and the crown. To replace the tooth, Dr. Davis, your implant surgeon, first replaces the root with a small dental implant.

Time is allowed for bone to heal and grow onto the dental implant. Your bone bonds directly to the titanium creating a strong foundation for the replacement teeth.  A support post is then placed on the implant, and your replacement tooth is then attached onto the post. In some cases a temporary replacement tooth can be attached to the implant immediately after it is placed. If all of your teeth are missing, a variety of treatment options are available to support the replacement teeth.

The Surgical Procedure

The procedure to place an implant takes 30 to 60 minutes for one implant and longer for multiple implants. The number of appointments and time required varies from patient to patient. Dr. Davis brings great precision and attention to the details of your case.

Prior to surgery, you will receive antibiotics and antibacterial mouthwash.  A local anesthetic will be administered to numb the area where the implant will be placed.

When the site is numb, Dr. Davis makes a small incision, creates space for the implant using special instruments, and gently inserts the titanium implant. The top of this implant is often visible through the gum. Sometimes it is better in the early stages of healing to have the implant covered by the gum tissue.

Normal Mouth
1. Normal
After Tooth Loss
2. Tooth Loss
Healed Bone, after bone grafting
3. Healed Bone
Dental Implant Placed
4. Implant Placed
Healing after dental implant placement
5. Healing
Dental Implant Restored
6. Implant Restored

The Healing Phase

Now, the healing begins. The length of time varies from person to person, depending upon the quality and quantity of bone. In some cases, implants may be restored immediately after they are placed. Dr. Davis will advise you on follow-up care and timing.

How long your mouth needs to heal is determined by a variety of factors. Follow-up care (one to four appointments) is usually needed to ensure that your mouth is healing well and to determine when you are ready for the restorative phase of your treatment.

It may be beneficial to perform a soft tissue gum graft to obtain stronger, more easily cleaned and natural appearing gum tissue in the area around the implant. This process is a plastic surgery for the gums involves moving a small amount of gum tissue from one part of your mouth to the area around the implant. Most often, it is a brief and relatively comfortable procedure.

Whether it’s one tooth or all of your teeth that are being replaced, your general dentist will complete the restoration by fitting the replacement tooth or teeth to your dental implant(s).

When Are Dental Implants Placed?

Implants are placed at the time of extraction in some cases or several months after extraction and bone graft healing. Immediate placement simplifies the process—you won’t have to wait for second surgery to place the implant. When infection or other problems with the bone are present, immediate implant placement may not be the best treatment option.

If your tooth has been missing for some time, the adjacent support bone  grows thinner and shrinks. As much as one third of your jaw’s thickness can be lost in the year following tooth extraction. If you are missing too much bone, you may require bone grafted into the area prior to implant placement. This ensures the implant will be adequately supported when it is placed in the jaw.

How Many Implants Do I Need?

Generally, one implant replaces the missing tooth. If a jaw segment missing multiple teeth is to be treated, there are times that several implants may support many teeth. Because the larger teeth in the back of your jaws have two or three roots, the most common approach is to replace missing back teeth with larger implants. Dr. Davis will confer with your dentist in planning and recommending the proper care for you.