What is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is a small titanium screw that functions similarly to a natural tooth root. They can be used to replace a single lost tooth or multiple missing teeth.
The implant is surgically placed into the jaw bone and then bonds with the natural bone to serve as an anchor for a tooth replacement.
Dental implants can help to prevent surrounding teeth from shifting, resolve bite issues or jaw joint pain, and help restore facial tissues and appearance.
Dr. Scott MacLean has a keen interest in dental implants and teaches dental implants at Dalhousie University.
Watch Dr. MacLean's Dental Implant Videos
If you are looking for more detailed information about dental implants or the implant placement process visit Dr. MacLean's YouTube channel*.
There you will find videos covering a range of dental implant topics from Tips for Success to Immediate Dental Implant Surgery and more.
*Note: Some videos may contain graphic images of dental implant surgery which may not be suitable for some viewers. The information provided in these videos is for educational purposes only.
Reasons for Dental Implants
If a tooth is missing, the teeth around the gap may start to shift out of place and cause alignment issues. The jaw bone around the area may also begin to deteriorate, resulting in facial collapse or impacting your ability to eat and talk.
The Dental Implant Procedure
When you are getting dental implants, it will require multiple visits over several months.
You will need to get impressions of your jaw and teeth, as well as X-rays, to determine bone, gum tissue, and spacing available for an implant. Your mouth will need to be numbed, and while numb your dentist will surgically place the implant on the bone. Allow this to heal and integrate itself for up to six months after the surgery.
A second surgery may be required to add the "post" that holds the artificial tooth in place, but this is not the case with all types of dental implants. There are implants that the post and anchor are already attached to and placed during the original surgery.
After several weeks of healing the artificial teeth are made and fitted to the post portion of the anchor. Because several fittings may be required, this step may take one to two months to complete. Once healed, the artificial teeth are securely attached to the implant, providing excellent stability and comfort to the patient.
Timeframes & Dental Implant Treatment
Not including your initial examination, you will need to have 4-5 more visits until the final fixed bridge is attached permanently.
It is normal to experience some minor bruising and swelling in the gum and soft tissue afterwards. Any discomfort is usually treated with an ordinary painkiller.
Dental Implant FAQs
Read the answers to our most frequently asked questions about dental implants at Trimac Dental Centre.
- Why dental implants?
There are many reasons why you should consider a dental implant:
Without the root structure of a natural tooth present, the jawbone can shrink. This shrinkage will make your face look older than it is.
There are no loose parts to worry about losing. The dental implant is stable and comfortable. No adjustment is needed after placement. Normally, it will serve its owner for life.
- Are dental implants successful?
With more than three decades of clinical experience and over a million patients treated, statistics confirm a success rate of nearly 95 percent for individual Straumann dental implants*and even higher for the bridges they support.
* Results based on dental implants and dental bridges remaining and in function over five years.
- How much do dental implants cost?
The fee for tooth replacement with dental implants depends on several factors, including the number of teeth being replaced and the number of dental implants required to support your replacement teeth.
Some additional procedures may be required before the placement of your dental implants to ensure the long-term health of your dental implants. To obtain a specific fee estimate, it is necessary to have a doctor examine your mouth. After a thorough diagnostic examination, your dentist will recommend the treatment that is best for you.
- Who is a Candidate?
Anyone who is missing one or more teeth due to injury, disease, or tooth decay may be a candidate for dental implants. The determining factor is the amount of available bone. Your dentist is the best person to evaluate whether dental implants are a viable solution for you.
- What are the advantages of dental implants?
Improved appearance: When you lose the entire tooth - crown and root - shrinkage of the jawbone may cause your face to look older. Dental implants can stop this process. A traditional denture or dental bridge doesn’t.
Preserve natural teeth: With traditional dental bridges, teeth adjacent to missing teeth are normally ground down to be used as anchors for a dental bridge. Dental implants often eliminate the need to modify healthy teeth.
Permanent solution: There are no loose parts to worry about losing. The dental implant is stable and comfortable. No adjustment is needed after placement. Normally, it will serve its owner for life.
- How will dental implants affect my life?
Dental implant-supported replacement teeth look, feel, and function like natural teeth. This means that you can eat and drink whatever you choose. But most importantly, dental implants often improve quality of life in a very concrete way.
People who have felt embarrassed and worried because of their tooth problems are often overwhelmed by what new permanent teeth can do for their self-esteem.
- Will my new teeth look natural?
When dental implants are used in combination with modern restorative dentistry, their appearance, comfort, and function are very likely to exceed your expectations. Often they are hard to tell apart from your natural teeth.
- How much time is required for a dental implant placement?
Today, guided surgical techniques are convenient alternatives to placing dental implants and allow you to have the dental implant placed in a single session using keyhole surgery. This new method has significantly simplified the procedure, for both patients and dentists. The major advantage of the guided surgical technique is the minimal amount of manipulation of the soft tissue due to keyhole surgery. This significantly reduces the healing time and the discomfort normally associated with traditional dental implant surgical techniques.
The conventional process can take from three to six months. First, the dentist places the dental implant, which is left for three to six months to heal and integrate with the jawbone. During the healing period, you are given a temporary prosthesis until the permanent crown is put in place.
The procedure chosen depends on several factors, such as your dental health, the number of teeth involved, and which teeth are replaced. These factors will also determine the total number of visits to the dentist throughout the treatment period.
- Is the treatment painful?
With any surgery, there can be some discomfort. Placing one implant normally causes less discomfort than placing several. Our Periodontist and dental staff are trained in ways to help reduce any discomfort during the dental implant process.
Most patients report that they were much more comfortable following the procedure than they had anticipated. Your doctor will prescribe medications to ease any discomfort that may occur. Ask your dentist to recommend another patient who has already had tooth replacement therapy to assess their personal experience.
- How do I care for my dental implants?
Your new teeth must be cared for and checked regularly, just like your natural teeth. Brush and floss as recommended by your dentist or dental hygienist. See your dentist in six months, or more frequently if so advised.
Dental Implant Surgery Post-Op
If you are scheduled for dental implant surgery at Trimac Dental Centre, the following information will help you to understand what to expect after your upcoming procedure, and the steps you should take as you recover.
What to Expect After Surgery
Bruising and swelling are normal in the gum and soft tissues. Thankfully, the pain is generally mild and can be treated with an ordinary painkiller. You should be able to work the next day.
After dental implant surgery, it is very important to take diligent care of the area surrounding your new implants. In the first month following your surgery, your care routine will be more involved as your implant becomes more integrated with the surrounding bone and tissue.
Recovery from Implant Surgery
Recovery after dental implant surgery happens in phases, and maintaining proper oral hygiene should be your primary focus. Keep in mind that, for the implant to properly fuse with the jawbone, it must remain clean.
Recovery time can vary depending on your case and treatment plan. It is important to have follow-up appointments afterwards to ensure it is healing properly.
Surgery Post-Op Instructions
After dental implant surgery it’s important to follow these care instructions:
Patients should take all prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection at the surgical site. Twenty-four hours after the surgery, patients should begin using the prescribed oral rinse twice daily alongside a warm saltwater rinse 4-5 times daily (preferably after every meal/snack).
Blood in the patient's saliva is normal during the first 24 hours following surgery. We suggest biting on gauze pads to help control and lessen blood flow. Gently bite down on the gauze pad and try to maintain constant pressure, repeating as often as needed, or until bleeding lessens.
- Dealing With Pain
Shortly after your dental implant surgery the anesthetic will wear off. You should begin taking pain medication before this happens. Any over-the-counter pain medication can be taken (e.g., Tylenol®, Aleve®, ibuprofen, etc.).
We recommend an initial diet of soft foods, but patients can resume a normal diet as soon as they feel capable of doing so. Stay hydrated. You must be drinking plenty of fluids.
For the dental implants to heal properly, the surgical site must be kept clean. Continue to brush your teeth as you normally would, but avoid any sutures and do not brush the implant. The antibiotic and saltwater rinses will disinfect the implant itself.
After dental implant surgery some amount of swelling is to be expected. To help minimize swelling, try to keep your head elevated and lower your activity level as much as possible. Use ice packs for the first 48 hours and apply continuously, or as frequently as possible to minimize facial swelling.
- Wearing Your Prosthesis or Night Guard
Partial dentures, flippers, full dentures, retainers, or night guards should not be used for at least 10 days following surgery. If there are any special circumstances, our practice will discuss those with you during your pre-operative consultation.
Smoking after dental implant surgery has an increased risk of infection which also increases the risk of dental implants failing to integrate. We recommend that patients do not smoke for a minimum of 2 weeks after dental implant surgery.