How Do Dental Implants Work?

Missing teeth can lead to several oral health issues, including shifting of adjacent teeth, difficulty in chewing, and potential bone loss. That’s why tooth loss has to be addressed promptly. Dental implants are excellent solutions for many patients because they provide a durable and natural-looking replacement that restores oral function. At Smith Family and Cosmetic Dentistry in Porters Neck and Hampstead, North Carolina, we often recommend this solution

How Do Dental Implants Work?

Implants are tooth replacements that address the void left by missing teeth. There are three key components: a titanium implant surgically placed in the jawbone, an abutment connecting the implant to the crown, and a custom-made crown. The titanium implant undergoes osseointegration, fusing with the jawbone over time, ensuring a stable foundation. This process provides robust support and helps prevent bone loss.

This treatment is suitable for people with one or more missing teeth. Implants are especially beneficial for those wanting to restore both aesthetics and functionality. However, certain factors, such as inadequate bone density or uncontrolled systemic conditions, may make some patients unsuitable candidates. Before fitting implants, we always conduct a comprehensive assessment.

Treatment Planning 

Detailed planning helps us achieve precise and predictable results that are tailored to your goals. To begin, we collaborate with you to discuss the proposed treatment, address concerns, and establish realistic expectations.

During planning, we assess your teeth and jaw, considering factors like your oral health, bone structure, and specific requirements. Comprehensive evaluations, including X-rays and scans, help in determining the number of implants needed and the optimal placement locations. Your treatment plan is then customized to address any pre-existing dental issues. It outlines the entire implant process, from surgery to the final restoration.

Who Can Have an Implant? 

Generally, patients in good overall health with sufficient bone density are suitable candidates. Severe illnesses like cancer or bad habits such as heavy smoking may impact eligibility. Sometimes, preparatory treatments can eliminate contraindications.

Preparatory Treatments 

Before implant placement, any pre-existing dental issues need to be addressed. If you have compromised teeth due to decay, damage, or gum disease, tooth extractions may be necessary to eliminate sources of infection or instability. This prepares the site for the implant and promotes a healthy foundation for the replacement tooth.

If you have insufficient bone density in the implant area, we may recommend additional treatments, such as bone grafts or sinus lifts. Bone grafts involve transplanting bone material to augment the existing jawbone and provide support for the implant. As the name suggests, sinus lifts lift the sinus membrane to make room for the bone graft in the upper jaw. The duration of these preparatory treatments varies, but they can take weeks to months.

Titanium Implant Placement Surgery 

The implant process starts with the placement of the titanium implant. A titanium post is surgically inserted into the jawbone to serve as a sturdy foundation for the replacement tooth. The procedure is typically performed under local anesthesia or sedation to ensure patient comfort. During the surgery, we make an incision in the gum to expose the jawbone and drill a hole for the titanium implant.

The implant is then carefully placed into the prepared site, and the incision is closed with sutures. The duration of this surgery varies depending on factors such as the number of dental implants being placed and the complexity of the case but generally ranges from 1 to 2 hours. You can go home on the same day, but you may have to reduce your activity and stay away from work for a few days.


Osseointegration is the healing process after implant surgery, during which the titanium implant fuses with the surrounding jawbone tissue. This biological integration establishes a strong and stable foundation for the replacement tooth. Osseointegration occurs as bone cells naturally adhere to and grow around the surface of the titanium implant.

The duration of this step varies among patients, but it typically takes several months. During this period, you have to follow our post-operative care instructions diligently. Avoid activities that could potentially disturb the healing process, such as smoking or excessive chewing on the implant site. Maintain good oral hygiene by brushing regularly with a soft-bristled toothbrush and using mouthwash as directed by our team.

Abutment Placement 

The abutment is a connector component that links the titanium implant to the crown. Typically made from materials like titanium, zirconia, or other biocompatible metals, the abutment is selected based on your specific requirements. Abutment placement is a minor surgery that follows the successful osseointegration of the implant with the jawbone.

During this phase, your dentist at Smith Family and Cosmetic Dentistry in Porters Neck and Hampstead, North Carolina reopens the gum and attaches the abutment securely to the implant. The abutment extends above the gum line, serving as a foundation for the final restoration. The gum is then repositioned around the abutment and secured with sutures.

Fitting the Crown

Fitting the crown is the final stage, and it involves the attachment of a custom-made prosthetic tooth onto the previously placed abutment. The crown is crafted to match the color, shape, and size of your natural teeth. Impressions of the abutment and surrounding teeth are taken, so a customized crown can be created. It is usually made from porcelain, ceramic, or a combination of materials.

The fitting process involves securely attaching the crown to the abutment. This is generally completed in a single appointment. Once your crown has been fitted, you can once again enjoy a natural-looking smile, along with the restored functionality of a complete set of teeth.

Implant Care 

The better you take care of your implants, the longer they will last. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss once a day, and use antiseptic mouthwash to clean hard-to-reach areas. Always use a gentle brush and avoid rapid, harsh movements. While implants are resilient, they may not last if you use excessive force during activities like teeth grinding or biting hard objects. 

Try to abstain from smoking, as it can hinder the healing process and increase the risk of complications. Certain dietary considerations, such as avoiding excessively hard or sticky foods, can help protect the implant and prevent damage. Maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating a well-balanced diet and participating in regular exercise, as this supports your body and prevents issues such as bone density loss. 

Follow-Up Appointments at the Porters Neck or Hampstead, North Carolina Clinic

Initially, you will visit our clinic every few weeks, so we can keep an eye on your implants while your body heals from the surgeries. As the implant integrates successfully, follow-up appointments become less frequent. Depending on your age and the condition of your teeth, we may recommend annual or biannual appointments.

During these visits, we examine the implant site, check the stability of the restoration, and conduct any necessary imaging. Professional cleanings may be recommended periodically to maintain optimal oral hygiene and prevent issues like peri-implantitis.

Dental implants are perfect for people who would like a durable and attractive tooth replacement. When placed by an experienced dentist, they can remain intact for up to 30 years. Reach out to us at Smith Family and Cosmetic Dentistry in Sneads Ferry, Goldsboro, Jacksonville, Surf City, Porters Neck, Hampstead, and Wilmington, North Carolina. We look forward to helping you regain your happy, healthy smile. 

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