For most patients, a dental implant procedure involves two surgical procedures. The first involves the implant being placed within the jawbone. For the period between three and six months, the implants gradually bond with the jawbone. During this period the dentist is creating new replacement teeth. Patients are advised to wear a temporary dental appliance, such as a flipper or dentures and have a soft food diet.
The second dental implant procedure begins after the implant has bonded to the jawbone. The implant is uncovered and a small abutment post, which will act as an anchor for the tooth, is attached to the implant. A temporary crown is also placed onto the implant at this time. A temporary crown encourages gum growth in the right shape to approximate a natural tooth's gums and allows the dentist to assess the final aesthetics of the restored tooth. Once this has occurred, a permanent crown will then be constructed and placed onto the implant. The entire process of a dental implant can take anywhere from six to eight months. Most patients report a minimal amount of disruption in their daily life during and after the implant process.
An increasingly common strategy to preserve bone and reduce treatment times includes the placement of a dental implant into a recent extraction site. This type of process is becoming more common as success rates for this type of dental implant procedure is now acceptable. This can reduce the implant process by months. In some cases, a prosthetic tooth can also be attached to the implants at the same time as the surgical dental implant procedure.
Some patients have enough bone mass material for a low cost dental implant to be readily inserted at the site of a missing tooth. For other individuals, they must have the area bone grafted in order to receive a dental implant. This is because, over a period of time, the jawbone associated with missing teeth atrophies or is reabsorbed. The result is bone that is in poor quality and quantity and unsuitable for the placement of an implant.
Before beginning an implant procedure, the dentist must first determine its functional aspect to determine how much force will be placed on it, as well as the bone tissues. The amount of force being applied in the course of everyday functions (e.g., chewing, biting), can exceed the tolerance level of the implant, bone, and/or the titanium material itself, resulting in a failure. Failure can result in the implant itself in the form of a fracture, or bone loss, a "melting" of the surrounding bone.
The dentist must also determine the type of prosthesis to be fabricated. The type of prosthetics determines specific implant requirements including number, length, diameter, and thread pattern. In other words, the process must work in reverse in order for it to be successful. Many dentists are beginning to use computer simulation software to aid them in making more accurate assessments of the patients implant needs. This software is based on CAT scan data, allowing for a virtual implant surgical placement. It is based on a prototype of the final prosthesis, allowing for a better prediction of the vital anatomy, bone quality, implant characteristics, as well as the need for bone grafting, and maximizing the implant bone surface area. The use of computers in implantology has led to less dental implant problems and is most often used with the single surgery implant method of a dental implant such as the subperiosteal implant.