6 Things to Expect When Getting Dental Implants

In the past, dentures have been the only viable solution to replace missing, broken, or excessively damaged teeth. However, in recent years, dental implants have become the preferred option to restore a healthy smile. Learn everything you need to know about implant dentistry if you are interested in getting implants in North Carolina. 

Six Things to Expect When Getting Dental Implants

1. A Comprehensive Dental Examination

Before your dentist or oral surgeon schedules your implant procedure, you will need to undergo a comprehensive dental examination. During this examination, your dentist will inspect the condition of your teeth and your gums to assess your oral health and determine if you are an eligible candidate for this procedure. It’s common for dentists to use X-rays and CT scans to analyze your jaw bone density to determine your candidacy as well. 
As part of your consultation, you will need to discuss your medical history. You should tell your dentist or oral surgeon about health conditions you have that may affect healing, such as bone disease, diabetes, heart disease, or other conditions. You should also provide information about your prescription medications, vitamins, and other supplements you may be taking. 

2. Discussing Anesthesia Options

If your dentist decides you are a good candidate for dental implants, you will be able to build a treatment plan. Part of your treatment plan will include the use of anesthesia during your procedures for extracting teeth, grafting the jaw bone, and placing implants. Some patients prefer to use local anesthesia, such as lidocaine, while others prefer to use laughing gas or general anesthesia. Your health condition will help your dentist determine which anesthesia option is best for you. 
When you are discussing your anesthesia options, your dentist may also recommend taking pre-medication to help you prepare for your recovery after your teeth are extracted. Pre-medication generally refers to antibiotics that are taken the day of the procedure. It’s common for antibiotics to be taken for several days after tooth extractions as well.

3. Removing Damaged Teeth

Before implants can be placed, damaged teeth will need to be removed. Damaged teeth can refer to teeth that are cracked, exceptionally decayed, or too loose. Some patients only need to have a few teeth removed, while other patients may need to have dental extractions for all remaining teeth. Depending on your health and the number of teeth that need to be removed, it may take more than one appointment to remove damaged teeth. 
After damaged teeth are extracted, your dentist will generally recommend waiting at least one month before continuing your implant treatment plan. During the month after your extractions, your gum tissues and jaw bone will have enough time to heal so implants can be successfully placed. 

4. Preparing the Jaw Bone

Some patients may require bone grafting to ensure implants are placed successfully. Implants are recommended for patients who have a soft or thin jaw bone. Grafting the jaw bone will ensure the jaw is strong enough to tolerate the pressure of chewing when implants are placed. Patients will be able to choose between a natural bone graft and a synthetic bone graft. 
If you require a bone grafting procedure, your dentist will recommend waiting a few months before your implants can be placed. This recovery time is vital since it gives the natural or synthetic bone graft enough time to grow into your jaw bone. Even if you have a minor bone graft, it may be more than a month or two before your implant procedure can be scheduled. 

5. Choosing an Implant Type

When you get dental implants, you will be able to choose between fixed or removable implants. There are advantages to both types of implants so you should discuss your lifestyle with your dentist to determine which implant type is ideal for you. 

Removable Implants

Removable implants are similar to dentures. Also called snap-in dentures, these implants work by fixing posts into your jawbone that will attach to dentures that can be removed at your convenience. This may be a good option if you are replacing all of your teeth or if you would prefer implants that can be easily cleaned. 

Fixed Implants

Fixed implants are artificial teeth that are placed permanently in the mouth similar to a natural tooth. Fixed implants are often stand-alone teeth that replace a single tooth or only a few missing teeth. Fixed implants can also come as a bridge to replace two or three teeth in a row by bridging the implants together. 

6. Placing the Implant

The final step of your implant journey is placing the implant. After your gums and jawbone are fully healed, your dentist will be able to place a metal post in your jawbone and add an abutment to your dental implant if necessary. You may need to wait several weeks or months for your jawbone to heal after posts are placed before your implants can be installed. 

What Is Recovery Like After Implants?

Every step of your implant journey will be marked by several weeks of recovery time, which means it can be three or more months before your implants are successfully placed. During every stage of your treatment plan, it’s essential to follow your aftercare instructions closely so you can recover quickly between procedures. 
In addition to using antibiotics and over-the-counter pain medication, you will be instructed to use warm salt water or a medicated oral rinse several times a day to clear bacteria from your gums as they heal. You should avoid vigorous swishing, spitting, very hot or cold foods, and smoking during your immediate recovery time after each procedure. 

Soft Food Diet

Depending on the number of teeth you are replacing with implants, it’s likely you will need to drastically alter your diet for several months. A soft food diet is ideal since soup, smoothies, jello, protein shakes, pudding, mashed potatoes, flaky fish, soft baked goods, eggs, and oatmeal do not require any chewing. You should avoid using straws throughout your recovery time, even for soft foods like milkshakes. 

Are You an Ideal Candidate for Implant Dentistry in North Carolina?

Most people only pursue implants to replace damaged or missing teeth. However, to qualify as a candidate for this procedure, it’s essential that you have adequate jaw bone to tolerate the implant. If your jaw bone is too narrow, underdeveloped, or thinning, then you may not qualify for this procedure. You can discuss a bone graft procedure with your oral surgeon if you are determined to get implants. 
The best candidates for this procedure are those who do not smoke, people who are ready to commit to the prolonged recovery process, and people who do not have any health conditions that can impact bone healing. You might also be a good candidate if you do not want to wear dentures or if you want to improve your smile.
Implants are a great way to permanently restore your smile and fortify the strength of your jawbone in the future. Book a consultation appointment for implant dentistry at Smith Family and Cosmetic Dentistry in Sneads Ferry, Porters Neck, Jacksonville, Hampstead, Wilmington, and Surf City, North Carolina today.
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