To get dental implants, you will go through a certain number of treatment steps with your dentist. The steps and duration of the treatment vary according to the therapeutic solution selected by your dentist. Below is an example of how your treatment steps might look like.
Continue reading to discover:
1. Deciding to go to the dentist
If you just lost or extracted a tooth, it is advisable to go and see a dentist as soon as possible to talk about the possibility of a dental implant treatment.
Often people with missing teeth wait too long to get treated. As a result, you may suffer from bone loss impacting adjacent teeth and could lead to possible further tooth losses. The worse your condition gets the more likely your missing teeth are to impact your diet, overall health, and social interactions.
Most people go to see their family dentist, who would either decide to do the implant treatment themselves or refer them to another dentist or specialist. It is good to do one’s research and make sure that the dentist you choose has recognized experience in dental implant treatment and treating the type of indication that you have.
Tip: Don’t wait too long before going to see a dentist – limit bone resorption and save yourself some money!
2. Diagnostics and treatment planning
Your dentist will make an examination to assess your suitability for a dental implant treatment. This consists of a thorough review of your medical and psychological history, as well as a comprehensive dental examination.
Various technologies are involved such as radiography, CBCT, intraoral scanner, impressions, and digital photography. The information collected is used to identify possible signs of oral or systemic disease, malformation or injury and to prepare the treatment plan. The effort spent on the diagnostic and planning is essential as it helps to reduce unintended outcomes during the surgical procedure and post-treatment complications.
Tip: Do a check-up with your family doctor (or specialist) prior to visiting your dentist. The information received could help your dentist’s diagnostic and planning.
3. The importance of thorough planning
The planning process for dental implants is based on the data collected during the diagnosis. It is a critical step where your dentist defines the best treatment options to address your needs and expectations. The evaluation of each alternative prognoses the likely outcome, potential risks, and the budget. This is also the time to evaluate the risk of complications at each step of the treatment.
4. Treatment offer
After your dental examination, your dentist will share their treatment plan. This covers how you will be treated, the number of visits, the key steps (including dental implant surgery and follow up protocol), conditions of guarantee, the products used, and the costs associated, amongst other things.
After receiving the offer, take the time to discuss the particulars with your dentist. This is a good time to ask as many questions as you can. Being able to communicate with your dental practitioner is an important factor in choosing the best practitioner for your dental implant treatment.
The dental implant offer helps you evaluate the quality of the treatment. Comparing treatment offers is a good and easy way to spot the differences between the treatment strategies and see what makes one treatment more or less expensive.
5. Seek a second opinion
Getting a second opinion from another dentist contributes to validate the quality of the initial diagnosis and compare the different approaches to treat your case. Dentists can treat the same type of indication differently, but their diagnosis (the reason for the problem) should be the same.
Validate the diagnostic
Make sure that the dentists come to the same conclusion when it comes to your condition and the problem to address. Compare their therapeutic solutions, since in most cases there are many different treatment options to treat the same type of dental indication.
Evaluate the value for money
Gather additional information on dental implant treatments and compare the dental implant offers in terms of duration, convenience, esthetics, long-term performance, predictability of the outcome, and price.
Comparing the treatment solutions is complex. It is therefore recommended to take the time to learn more about dental implants, discuss the treatment with relatives and friends, and most importantly compare treatments beyond just their prices: taking other factors into consideration such as the associated risks, treatment duration, and long term performance. See here for more information on how to compare treatment offers.
6. Additional visits
If called for an additional visit before surgery, it can be for a variety of reasons, for example:
- your dentist may need some additional dental impressions
- your dentist wants to explain in more detail how to get ready for surgery
- the dental technician wants to analyze the prosthetic aspect
- the anesthesiologist wants to talk through the sedation and anesthetic procedure
Before dental implant surgery, you generally receive a local anesthetic, which suppresses the pain, and sometimes a sedative to help you relax.
Depending on your expectations, your condition, the skills and material of your dentist, different treatment approaches can be selected. The three approaches described below have an impact on the treatment duration, convenience of the service, predictability and budget.
One-stage immediate loading – The patient leaves the practice on the day of surgery with fixed provisional teeth. It allows for the shortest treatment time possible, however, it is not always a feasible option. It requires strict patient compliance to the dentist’s recommendation
One-stage delayed loading – On the day of surgery, the dental implant is placed and a healing cap, protruding through the gum, is placed over it. The prosthesis will be fixed three to six months later when both bone and gums have healed. It is a more time-efficient procedure than the two-stage approach and has been proven to lead to fewer complications than a one-stage immediate loading.
Two-stage approach – On the day of surgery, the implant is placed and a cover screw is placed over the implant and the gum is sewn up for a period of healing. A second surgical procedure is needed thereafter, to replace the healing cap with the abutment and the crown or bridge. This means that the gum will need to be opened up once more, requiring a second period of healing time.
8. The days after surgery
Compliance with your dentist’s recommendations post-surgery is critical as it affects your healing time and the overall treatment outcome.
After the surgery, when the local anesthetic has worn off, you may feel some discomfort. Usually, this is treated with painkillers or by applying a cold pack. You will need to adapt the types of food you eat for a period of time.
Your recovery time may vary depending on whether bone grafting was needed or not, how the procedure went, how well you take care of yourself, and how your body reacts to the implant. Your dentist should provide you with a dental implant oral hygiene protocol to ensure long-term success.
Most patients find all or most of the discomfort has subsided 7 to 10 days following their dental implant surgery. Some degree of tenderness, bruising and light bleeding may occur, but in general the symptoms should improve as the days pass.
Your dentist will check the status of your healing and post-operative outcome at intervals as decided in your treatment plan. If needed, this is also when prosthetic adjustments will be made.
9. Your final prosthesis and implant care program
Three to six months after surgery, your dentist will replace the provisional prosthesis with the final prosthesis.
The success of your dental implant treatment is directly connected with your compliance in taking good care of your prosthesis. This can be summarized by:
- Following what is explained in the home-care program established by your dentist
- Attending periodic visits for check-ups and cleaning