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 orthopedic surgeons for artificial joints. When you lose a tooth, you lose both the root and the crown. To replace the tooth, the oral surgeon first replaces the root with a small dental implant.

Time is allowed for bone to heal and grow around the dental implant. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth.  A post (abutment) is then placed on the implant and a new replacement tooth (crown) is placed on top of the abutment. In some cases a temporary replacement tooth can be attached to the implant immediately after it is placed.

The Surgical Procedure

The procedure to place an implant takes about 60 minutes for one implant. The number of appointments and time required, vary from patient to patient. Dr. Parmer and Dr. Macholl will bring great precision and attention to detail to your case.

Prior to surgery, you will receive antibiotics and an antibiotic mouthwash.  For greater comfort, intravenous sedation or nitrous oxide (laughing gas) may be used. These options are discussed with you at your consultation appointment. A local anesthetic will be administered to numb the area where the implant will be placed.

Dr. Parmer or Dr. Macholl makes a small incision in the gums to expose the bone, creates a small hole using special drills, and gently inserts the titanium implant. The top of this implant is typically visible through the gum.  The stitches will dissolve in about a week.

Normal Mouth illustration
1. Normal
After Tooth Loss illustration
2. Tooth Loss
illustration of Healed Bone, after bone grafting
3. Healed Bone
image of Dental Implant Placed
4. Implant Placed
Healing after dental implant placement illustration
5. Healing
illustration of 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 most cases, implants may be restored approximately 3 months after they are placed. Your oral surgeon will advise you on follow-up care and timing. After the healing phase, an abutment (post) is placed onto the implant during a brief follow-up visit.

Once the abutment is in place, your dentist will complete the restoration by fitting the replacement tooth (crown) to the dental implant.

When Are Dental Implants Placed?

Implants are often placed several months after extraction. At times, an implant may be placed immediately after the extraction of a tooth. This may involve a little more risk, but it simplifies the process — you won’t have to wait to place the implant. When infection or other problems with the bone are present, immediate implant placement is not the best treatment.

If your tooth has been missing for some time, the adjacent support bone is likely to grow thinner and shrink. This occurs because the root of the natural tooth has to be present to stimulate the bone. As much as one third of your jaw’s thickness can be lost in the year following tooth extraction. If you are missing a significant amount of bone, you will benefit from having additional bone grafted into the area. This ensures the implant will be adequately supported when it is placed in the jaw.

How Many Implants Do I Need?

Most frequently, one implant per missing tooth is placed. If you are missing three teeth in a row, two implants can be placed and a bridge spans between the two implants.