Having a Dental Implant: What You Need to Know

Dental implants can replace one or more missing teeth as an alternative to a dental bridge or denture. In this article, our dentist Dr Teo explains:

  • What dental implants are
  • A little about the placement process, and
  • What services she can offer if you decide to have an implant to replace your missing tooth or teeth.

What Is a Dental Implant?

A dental implant is like an artificial tooth root that is placed into the jawbone. The implant supports dental work, such as a crown, fixed bridge or an over-denture, to replace one or more missing teeth. 

Dental Implants are made from a very strong material: titanium, a biocompatible material, which means that the body doesn’t reject it like it would other foreign objects. In the case of titanium implants, the bone grows up against the implant and forms a strong physical bond, holding the implant firmly in place. This process is called osseointegration.

Dental implants are placed into the jawbone via a surgical procedure. This type of surgery can be done under a local anaesthetic.

It is not necessary to go to the hospital for implant surgery unless:

  • The procedure is likely to be lengthy or complicated
  • It is your preference to have the treatment done under intravenous sedation or a general anaesthetic.

Placing a Dental Implant

Imaging and Planning

Your dentist or dental specialist will first determine the optimal position for the implant. They need to assess

  • how much bone is present in three dimensions and
  • where surrounding structures, such as nerve bundles, are located within your jaws.

They will order x-rays, often a cone-beam CT for three-dimensional planning, and may organise study models (replicas of your teeth).

The Surgical Placement of the Implant

Once the area is numbed with a local anaesthetic, the site is prepared in the jaw to hold the implant. The dentist or specialist will fix the implant into the site and test it to ensure that the initial placement is secure. This entire procedure is done within a sterile operating field.

The team will provide you with aftercare instructions.

The First Healing Phase

During the initial healing period, the implant remains undisturbed under the gum tissue. This allows the surrounding bone to grow against the implant and secure it into place. Just as it takes a broken bone at least six to eight weeks to knit, it takes around a similar amount of time for the bone to grow and mature around a newly-placed implant.

Placement of the Implant Abutment

After approximately three months, an x-ray will be ordered to assess the osseointegration of the implant. A second surgical procedure will then be performed to fit an abutment to the top of the implant. This is a small post that will ultimately secure and support the artificial tooth (crown) or teeth (bridge or over-denture). 

A temporary crown or denture is sometimes fitted over the abutment. This helps the gum to grow into a natural, tooth-hugging shape. This is a very important process for the aesthetics of the gums, particularly around the front teeth.

In today’s technological age, it is sometimes possible to eliminate this second surgical procedure, as the abutment can often be placed at the same time as implant insertion. In these situations, only one round of surgery is required. 

Placement of the Crown, Bridge or Overdenture

Once the gum heals and matures around the abutment, the crown, bridge or over-denture is connected to the implant.

Dental Implants at Lovely Dental Care, Geelong

Dr Teo has a special interest in dental implants, having done further training in the area of dental implantology. She has been placing and restoring implants in her rooms at Bellerine Street for many years.

There are occasions when more complex cases are referred to our specialists. Dr Teo works closely with our periodontists or oral surgeons, coordinating the treatment planning, ensuring the care of her patients and close communication between all involved.

Are You Considering Dental Implants?

If you are considering a dental implant, the first step is to come in for an assessment. Due to the surgical nature of this treatment, it is important to undergo a complete examination to determine whether dental implants are a suitable option for your situation. Dr Teo will advise you about the suitability of dental implants, discuss alternative options, and work closely with you to achieve an outcome that is comfortable and desirable for your personal circumstances.