If you are missing one or more of your teeth, there are many options your dentist may recommend. One technique for restoring a missing tooth is to place a dental implant. A dental implant uses metal in place of a root, and a crown is placed on top of the metal “root” to fully replace your tooth. The result is the restoration of your smile and tooth functionality.
Dental Implants vs. Mini Dental Implants
There are two main types of dental implants: conventional dental implants, and mini dental implants.
As you might suspect, the main difference between the two is size. Conventional dental implants are about 4-5 mm in diameter, and are often used to replace larger teeth, such as molars. Mini dental implants are about half the size of conventional implants, and are often used for front tooth replacement.
Mini implants are generally less invasive, and may be a viable option if you have suffered bone loss in your jaw. If conventional implants are not right for you, you may still be able to receive a mini implant.
Most dental implants are made of a titanium alloy, in part due to the fact that it tends to be more stable than most metals when combined with human bone and tissue. Titanium is also strong and durable, making it perfect for permanent restoration.
To find out more about whether conventional or mini dental implants are right for you, consult a local dentist, like those at Arkansas Family Dental. Our Little Rock-based dentists have years of experience working with conventional and mini dental implants.
How Long Does Surgery Take?
Each dental implant procedure is unique to the individual, and there is much more to the procedure than just the surgery. There will be appointments leading up to the operation that will involve taking X-rays and 3D images. Your tooth may also need to be extracted prior to the dental implant procedure.
The length of the surgery is also determined by the number of teeth to be replaced, and which particular teeth need replacement. In many cases, a single dental implant will take 1-3 hours, which includes the anesthesia, procedure, and prepping you for surgery.
Preparing for Surgery
You will have multiple appointments leading up to your dental implant surgery, and you may meet with several different specialists, depending on your case. Your dentist will need to do the following:
- Dental exam – This comprehensive exam includes an assessment of tooth condition, which will also involve X-rays and scans. Part of the preparation of a dental implant is designing a tooth that will match your bite and tooth size. The dentist will also determine if there is any bone loss, which can make a difference in what type of implant is more appropriate for you.
- Medical history review – Any surgical procedure requires a thorough review of your medical history, and any medications that you currently take, including over-the-counter medications and dietary supplements. People who smoke are at risk for further complications, and may be encouraged to start a cessation plan. Some individuals may also be prescribed antibiotics before the surgery to lower the risk of infection.
- Develop a treatment plan – Once your dentist has performed an exam and has reviewed your medical history, he or she will write up your unique treatment plan. Your treatment plan will outline how many teeth are being replaced, in addition to the condition of the underlying bone.
If the tooth needs to be extracted, you will need to wait until it is removed before the implant can be placed.
Leading up to the surgery, you may use antibacterial mouthwash or antibiotics to help reduce the risk of infection.
Your dentist will ensure that you do not feel any discomfort during the procedure, which is why he or she will use one or more forms of anesthesia. Anesthesia may include local anesthesia, sedation, general anesthesia, or some combination of these. Your dentist will consult with you to determine what is best for your situation.
Different anesthesia types have different pre-surgery requirements, and your dentist will provide specific instructions as to what yours are. General anesthesia, for example, requires that you avoid eating and drinking after midnight the night before your surgery.
Day of the Procedure
Regardless of which anesthesia you receive, you should have someone drive you home after the operation.
When you arrive at the office, you will first receive local anesthesia at the location of the implant. If your dentist recommended IV anesthesia, this will be administered at the same time.
Your dentist will make a very small incision in the gums to expose the bone, and use a small drill to make a hole for the implant post. The metal post is screwed into place, and a temporary second component is placed on top of the implant, over the gums. Once the implant has healed, a permanent “tooth” is placed on the implant.
As with any surgical procedure, there are some risks, but they are rare and often easily treatable. These risks include any of the following:
- Infection at the site of the implant
- Damage to surrounding teeth or gums
- Nerve damage
- Sinus problems (from upper tooth implants)
Again, the likelihood of these complications occurring is rare.However, if they do, your dental team at Arkansas Family Dental has the tools and resources to handle it. Our staff is highly experienced with the dental implant procedure, and know how to avoid and treat these complications.
It is very likely that you will feel a little bit of discomfort after surgery, typically in the form of swelling and small bruises. To treat this discomfort, your dentist will have you take painkillers such as ibuprofen or hydrocodone. These will help you feel more comfortable after the procedure.
In most cases, you can return to work or school the day after the procedure.
To avoid complications, you will be expected to diligently maintain your dental hygiene, including brushing and flossing around the implant as directed by your dentist. Smoking can also increase risk of complication. You will likely have follow-up appointments after the procedure, and you should continue to make regular dental appointments every six months.
Go to a Caring Family Dentist in Little Rock
Avoiding the dentist can lead to more complications down the road. Call (501) 683-8886 to schedule an appointment with Arkansas Family Dental, a gentle and compassionate facility that can treat everyone in your family.