Implant treatment involves replacing a missing tooth. Most often, patients do not fully understand what a dental implant is or the process.
A dental implant replaces the entire root and crown of a missing tooth and treatment consists of several parts:
First is the implant fixture or implant body. This implant fixture, typically made of titanium, is placed below the gum line where the root of your tooth used to be. Once this has been placed, we allow 3-4 months for healing and for the surrounding bone to accept the implant, this is called “osseointegration.” While the implant integrates, Dr. Looper may seal up the implant below the gum line and allowed to heal and will be uncovered when it’s time for the next phase. Another alternative is to place a temporary tooth over the implant while it heals. Either way, it typically takes 3-4 months for the implant to heal.
Second is the implant abutment and implant crown which occurs after the implant is fully healed. Our lab fabricates an abutment and crown to fit the implant. The abutment serves as a connector between the implant fixture and the implant crown. The abutment is screwed into the implant and the crown is screwed or cemented to the abutment, completing the process to replace a missing tooth. This step in the process can take 4-5 weeks to complete.
If a tooth has been missing for a while, a bone grafting procedure may need to be done. If this is needed, it can sometimes be done the same day as the implant or it may need to be done prior to an implant. Dr. Looper will discuss this with you should she see that this may be needed for you.
While our brief description above is an overview of the big picture, it is critical to not minimize the complexity of the treatment. Careful evaluation must be made by someone who is trained and practiced at placing implants. As well, patients need to evaluate whether an implant will fit their needs and lifestyle. Routine checkups and cleanings, good home care, and keeping the mouth free from infection and disease are important aspects of keeping teeth and implants healthy.
Dr. Looper will consider several things when completing your evaluation for an implant. Dr. Looper is going to assess any infection in the gums that might hamper the implant healing; she will evaluate the bone health in the area where an implant is being considered; she will evaluate the health of the adjacent teeth; and she will take into consideration your current health conditions and medications that might impact the success of the implant. As well, Dr. Looper will discuss with you the advantages and complications of an implant for your current dental health.
Dr. Looper offers surgical placement of implants with either laughing gas, oral sedation or IV sedation. (To learn more about sedation visit our Sedation Page.)
Dr. Looper invites you to schedule a Limited Exam and Single Xray to start the process. With this information, Dr. Looper can evaluate your tooth and together discuss your treatment options. If you have several teeth or dental concerns that need evaluating, then Dr. Looper invites you to schedule a Full Mouth Evaluation and Xrays. During the Full Mouth Evaluation, Dr. Looper will do a tooth-by-tooth exam for you and discuss any areas of concerns and recommendations, in addition to evaluating you for implants.