Dental Implant Procedure
Part 1 - What is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant procedure is called for when a tooth or any number of teeth are missing entirely, or where a tooth root cannot adequately support a dental restoration, such as a crown.
Dental implants have been commercially available since the early 1980s. In recent years dental implants have become more widely used due to their advantages relative to alternatives commonly used in the past such as traditionally supported dental bridges, dentures and partial dentures. Additionally, in recent years dental implants cost has declined relative to the alternatives to dental implants.
In the Mexican dental market, affordable dental implants are widely available.
A dental implant replaces a tooth root and is usually made of titanium. The dental implant procedure typically involves three components: the dental implant, an abutment and a dental restoration such as a crown or implant supported bridge (where there is a limited number of teeth missing) or a denture (where there is a greater number of teeth missing).
In cases where dental implants are used to support a denture, a support bar is often used between the implants and denture in order to to secure it in place.
Above - An X-ray of a Dental Implant, one with a temporary healing abutment and no crown in place (left), and a second dental implant (right) with a permanent abutment and crown in place (i.e. dental implant procedure completed).
Above - A dental implant without an abutment, and a second one cutaway to show the internal design and with an abutment in place.
Dental implants are installed in the jaw bone. They can be installed in either the upper (maxilla) or lower (mandibular) bones. A pilot hole is drilled in the jaw bone and the implant placed.
In cases where a tooth or teeth have been missing for some time, due to the absence of tooth roots, bone resorption (i.e. bone loss) will occur. In cases where the tooth has not been missing for long (e.g. when the dentist extracts it just prior to placing the implant), it's likely there will not be a perfect fit between the implant and the vacancy left by the tooth. This occurs despite implants being available in various shapes and sizes.
To address this, in over 90% of implant procedures, manufactured bone grafting material will be used to augment existing bone structure (source: Babbush). The objective is to augment bone material in order to assure adequate support for the implant.
Once the implant is placed, a temporary, healing abutment will be used to seal the implant and the gum tissue will be closed. This allows healing to occur, and bone to grow around the implant (which is known as osseointegration).
The healing time will vary. Bone in the upper jaw is less dense and so a healing time of 6 to 8 months may be required. For the lower jaw the healing time is usually 4 to 6 months. During this time a temporary prosthetic tooth may be provided, particularly if the tooth is in the visible area of your smile. The type of prosthetic used will depend on your dental situation.
Fabrication of both the temporary prosthetic tooth and the permanent crown will require that an impression of your teeth be taken. This involves the use of a dental tray and rubber-like material called alginate.
Once healing has occurred, the patient returns to the dentist. The site of the implant(s) will be opened, a permanent abutment placed and a crown (in the case of one tooth), bridge (in the case of a number of neighboring teeth) or denture (in the case of all teeth) will be fabricated, fitted and installed.
The first and second trip to Mexico for implant placement should require one week each. This ensures follow-up visits can be scheduled during your trip.
Go to Dental Implant Procedure (Part 2)
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