Dental implants are an alternative to dentures or bridgework for replacing one or several missing teeth. As the procedure requires many sequential visits, it can be a time-consuming process. The first step in the process involves an x-ray evaluation and a dentist’s assessment of the suitability of the patient’s remaining bone for the procedure. If insufficient bone is an issue, a surgeon may graft bone from other sites in the body to make implants feasible. Certain patients, including those who smoke, may not be suitable candidates.
The second step of the process involves inserting a threaded metal implant into the bone under anesthesia. Next, up to four months of healing are required for the implant to fully fuse with the bone, a process known as “osseointegration.” During this time, the dentist may attach a temporary cosmetic “flipper” to the implant. When the dentist verifies full healing of the implant, a permanent, cosmetically matched crown is attached. Minor bruising and swelling may develop after the operation, but they typically disappear soon afterward.
About the Author: Anup Muduli, DMD, serves as Vice President of the New Jersey Society of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. He currently practices oral and maxillofacial surgery in Oakland, New Jersey.