Dental Implants in Lafayette, IN
Dental implants are artificial tooth roots that are positioned in the bone in your jaw to replace a missing tooth. The bone in your jaw heals around the implant creating a solid foundation for a crown to be attached. Dental implants look and feel natural. You are able to brush and floss around your dental implant just as though it was a natural tooth. Dental implants can be utilized to replace a single tooth or multiple teeth. They can even be used to stabilize a denture.
Dental Implant Treatment Sequence
If through consultation with your dentist it is decided that an implant is a good option to replace your tooth, you will be given a referral to see a specialist for the placement of the implant. The specialist has advanced training in implant placement and surgery.
1. Tooth extraction – If you are planning to replace an existing tooth with a dental implant, then you will be given a referral to a specialist for the tooth extraction and implant placement. Usually a bone grafting material will be placed in the socket following tooth extraction if an implant is planned to be placed. The bone grafting process preserves bone in the area, improving the success and results of implant placement.
2. Consultation with specialist – If you are replacing a tooth that has already been extracted, you will be given a referral from your dentist to see a specialist for a consultation. If you are replacing an existing tooth with a dental implant the consultation may be done at the time of extraction if the circumstance allows. At the consultation appointment the specialist will discuss the process of placing the implant with you, as well as collect information they need to prepare for the implant placement. This may include taking radiographs (x-rays), to evaluate the bone in the area where the implant will be placed. Sometimes the specialist determines that a surgical guide is necessary for implant placement. If this is needed, you will need to return to our office for impressions for the fabrication of the guide prior to the implant placement.
3. Healing phase - If you have recently had a tooth extracted there will usually be a period of 3-4 months allowed for the area to heal prior to implant placement. This time frame could vary based on your particular situation.
4. Implant placement – For the implant placement you may decide to remain awake with local anesthesia or be sedated further depending on your preference. Most patients find the procedure to be less uncomfortable than tooth extraction. Your specialist will provide you with the details in regard to the implant placement and also post-operative considerations following placement.
5. Integration Phase – A period of 3-4 months is generally allowed for the implant to integrate into the bone. During this phase the bone is growing around the implant and the implant is becoming solidly fixed into the bone.
6. Restoration – Once the specialist determines that the implant has integrated into bone completely, you will be scheduled with our office so that the crown can be fabricated. This process involves us placing an abutment (attachment that connects the implant to the crown) onto the implant, collecting clinical data, and taking intraoral scans. The fabrication of the crown generally takes about 3 weeks. Once the crown is fabricated you will be scheduled for cementation of the crown and completion of the process.
Caring for Your Dental Implants
Since dental implants are entirely artificial they are not susceptible to decay. You cannot get a cavity on a tooth replaced with a dental implant! However, standard plaque control measures are still essential for dental implants, as with your natural teeth bone degradation from plaque collection around the gumline can occur. It is also very important to see your dentist regularly so that the gums around the implant can be evaluated and cleaned.
Feel free to ask your dentist or dental hygienist at your next visit about dental implants and how they can help you restore your smile.