Dental Implants 101: What to Expect from the Procedure

Dentist and patient discussing dental implants

Smiling, laughing, and enjoying your favorite meals are some of life’s simplest pleasures, and they all center around our teeth. But as we age, many of us find that our dental health declines, leading to disease and tooth loss. A staggering 26% of adults aged 65 or older have 8 or fewer teeth. But, thanks to modern dental advancements, you can have a radiant smile at any age.

Dental implants are a popular and effective solution for individuals who have lost one or more teeth. They provide a strong foundation for fixed or removable replacement teeth and are designed to match your natural teeth.

Understanding Dental Implants

Dental implants are artificial tooth roots, typically made from titanium, that provide a permanent base for fixed, replacement teeth. The tiny screw-like post then has an abutment attached to the top, connecting an artificial tooth.

Dental implants are a permanent solution for people with missing teeth or severe dental decay.

Procedure Overview

The dental implant procedure is usually performed in phases, with healing time allowed between each stage. The process begins with removing the damaged tooth if it is still present. Then, the jawbone is prepared for surgery. This may involve bone grafting if there isn’t enough bone tissue to support the implant.

Once your jawbone heals, your dentist places the dental implant post into your jawbone. They’ll drill a tiny pilot hole, then screw the post into place. Healing can take around six months as the bone grows around the implant, securing it in place.

After healing, the surgeon places an abutment, which is an extension of the implant metal post, followed by your new artificial tooth (crown).

What to Expect During Recovery

Knowing what to anticipate can provide some comfort and assurance as you navigate the healing process. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect post-surgery:

  • Discomfort and pain: It’s normal to experience some pain after the anesthesia wears off. This discomfort usually peaks within 24-48 hours and then gradually subsides. Over-the-counter pain medications can help manage this discomfort.
  • Swelling and bruising: After the procedure, you might notice swelling in your gums and face and possibly some bruising on your skin. Ice packs applied in intervals (20 minutes on, 20 minutes off) can reduce these symptoms.
  • Oral hygiene: Maintaining a clean mouth prevents potential infections and promotes optimal healing. Gentle brushing and flossing are encouraged, but be careful around the surgical site to prevent irritation. Rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash or salt water solution can help keep the area germ-free.
  • Dietary considerations: Initially, choose soft foods and liquids, like yogurt, smoothies, and broth, to avoid putting pressure on the surgical site. Gradually reintroduce harder foods as your comfort level increases and with your dentist’s approval.
  • Avoid tobacco and alcohol: Using tobacco products or drinking alcohol can hinder healing and even jeopardize the implant’s success. It can reduce saliva production or increase the risk of complications like peri-implantitis. Quit smoking and abstain from alcohol use, especially in the initial weeks following surgery.

Restoring Smiles with Confidence

Dental implants are a reliable and durable solution for tooth replacement, providing a smile that looks and feels natural. Understanding what to expect during the procedure and recovery can help ease anxiety and prepare you for a smooth, successful experience.

If you’re considering dental implants and want to learn more about whether they’re the right tooth replacement option, our experienced team at Hinsdale Dental can guide you through every step of the process, from consultation to recovery. Call Hinsdale Dental today at (630) 323-5200 to schedule your consultation.

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