Our Montreal oral and maxillofacial surgeons may place a dental implant as part of the process to replace a missing tooth and help you achieve a natural-looking smile.
What is a Dental Implant?
These small titanium screws function similar to a natural tooth root. Dental implants can replace a single lost tooth or several missing teeth.
Your maxillofacial surgeon will place the implant into the jaw bone, where it will bond with the existing natural bone and act as an anchor for a tooth replacement.
Dental implants can help to restore facial tissues and appearance, prevent the teeth around them from shifting, and resolve issues with jaw joint pain or bite.
Why Replace Missing Teeth
Are you missing teeth? If so, the teeth around the gap can begin to shift out of place, leading to misalignment issues. The jaw bone surrounding the area may also start to deteriorate, which can result in facial collapse or negatively impact your ability to speak and chew.
The Dental Implant Procedure
A dental implant (titanium screw) and a tooth replacement are used to complete a dental implant procedure.
Your surgeon will surgically place the implant into your jaw bone, underneath the gum tissue. As the tissue heals following the procedure, the implant bonds with the bone before attaching to the gum.
Once healing has occurred (typically 3 to 6 months post-surgery), patients return to our office to have the procedure completed.
During this final appointment, your surgeon will remove the gum tissue covering the implant and attach a tooth replacement such as a dental crown, denture or bridge, to the implant to create the function and appearance of a natural tooth.
By performing this procedure, your surgeon can treat a number of oral health issues, including restoring facial tissue structure, resolving bite issues and jaw joint pain you may be experiencing, returning speaking and chewing abilities and even improving the aesthetic appearance of your smile.
Dental Implant FAQs
Read the answers to our most frequently asked questions about dental implants.
- How long does a dental implant last?
If your dental implant is properly cared for, it can last a lifetime.
Proper care includes an excellent oral hygiene routine consisting of brushing and flossing regularly, and attending regular hygiene cleanings and appointments at your dentist's office.
The longevity of your dental implant may also be influenced by other factors such as genetics, nutrition or the development of any dental diseases such as gum disease, which can affect the gum tissue and supporting tissues of the implants.
- Who is a good candidate for implant placement?
People who are in good general health, regardless of age, are usually good candidates for implantation. However, even though dental implants have a very high success rate, certain factors can influence the success of the treatment:
- Severe bone loss due to untreated tooth loss over a long period of time
- Gum disease
- Dental occlusion problems
- Poor patient health
- Smoking (frequency and duration)
- Some medications taken over long periods of time
- Medications that increase bleeding, such as blood thinners
- People who grind their teeth in sleep are usually not good candidates since they can put great pressure on their teeth. Implants do not move like normal teeth, so they cannot always tolerate these pressures well. However, your dentist may recommend that you wear a mouth guard to protect your implant.
- How do I care for my dental implants?
Care for your dental implant just as you would care for your natural teeth.
Visit your dentist for regular hygiene appointments and maintain a consistent brushing and flossing routine at home. This can help prevent disease or decay from developing in the surrounding teeth and gums, which can negatively impact your dental implants.
We recommend interproximal toothbrushes, as they are designed to clean between your teeth and your dental implant.
- Does getting a dental implant hurt?
Your surgeon will administer anesthesia during dental implant surgery to ensure your comfort, so you won't feel any pain during the procedure.
After the procedure, patients do not typically experience much discomfort. Most can manage any pain with an over-the-counter pain medication for a few days following the procedure.
You will also need to eat a soft diet for the first 7 to 10 days, as the surgical site heals, to avoid any pain or irritation. In special cases, a soft diet may be required for 6 weeks following the operation.
- How long does the dental implant process take?
Depending on your custom treatment plan, the full dental implant procedure usually takes between two and nine months to complete.
Your surgeon will be able to provide you with a more specific timeline, based on your specific case.
- Which lifestyle habits can negatively impact the healing process?
We must be careful during the healing process and make sure to manage our lifestyle habits which could have a negative effect on healing:
- If you smoke, cut down or stop smoking for at least a week after your surgical procedure. Smoke increases the risk of infections and prolongs the healing time. It also decreases the effectiveness of the immune system in fighting diseases that affect the gums and the tissues that will support the dental implant.
- Be careful what you eat.
- Excessive alcohol consumption can complicate the healing process.
- Continue to brush your teeth well and maintain excellent oral hygiene. This reduces the risk of postoperative infection.
- What are the risks and complications of dental implants?
All surgical procedures come with risks and potential complications. When it comes to dental implants, if the surgical steps are completed correctly, the chances of complications are quire small. These complications can appear in the form of:
- Nerve damage
- Maxillary sinus injury
- Postoperative complications
Before beginning surgery, your surgeon will take x-rays to analyze the location of each structure in your mouth. Doing this helps to ensure that the implant placement will not damage very important structures such as the sinus of the maxilla and the inferior alveolar nerve which is located at the level of the mandible.
If this nerve is injured during the procedure, the patient may experience permanent or temporary loss of sensation in the lip and teeth on the side of the injury. Several x-rays are taken during the procedure to ensure that everything takes place at a safe distance from these structures.
Just like the nerve in the lower jaw, the maxillary sinus which is at the top of the upper jaw must be protected. Sinus damage can result in delayed dental implant placement and may even require a bone graft before the dental implant can be placed.
After a dental implant has been placed, it is normal to feel symptoms such as pain and inflammation. However, these symptoms are usually well controlled with medications prescribed by your surgeon or dentist.
If the pain is severe and persists, it may be an infection. If an infection does occur, it is usually well treated with antibiotics. It is rare that the dental implant needs to be removed. It is therefore very important to take the full dose of the prescribed antibiotic to ensure that the infection is completely overcome and to avoid recurrence.
In cases where the incision for implant placement is wide, the stitches may come apart prematurely. The consequences of this occurrence are not severe. If the site is kept clean and care is taken not to damage it, it should heal well. The surgeon should be made aware if such a thing occurs.
Finally, once the implant has integrated well into the bone, there may be complications with the final restoration that is placed on the implant. The crown, bridge or prosthesis are attached to the implant with a screw. This screw may weaken or fracture, which will result in failure of the restoration. However, these problems are usually easy to fix.
In very rare cases, the implant itself may fracture and need to be replaced.
It is very important to know that although complications and risks are present, dental implants are one of the most successful treatments. Complications are rare.
- Will my insurance cover dental implants?
Though some insurance companies will cover the cost of dental implants, some will only pay for part of the cost, while others won't pay for any part of it.
To determine which percentage, if any, of your dental implant treatment your insurance plan will cover, check with your insurance provider.