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How do dental implants work?

Dental implants provide optimal support for a replacement tooth or teeth by mimicking the natural root structure and a successful root system does more than just provide nutrients for a living tooth. It also keeps the tooth steady and secure.

Like a natural root system, a dental implant is a small screw-like appliance that is inserted into the jawbone. Implants are built from surgical-grade titanium, and they are attached to a supporting post that keeps a crown or bridge held in place as needed. It is also possible to use multiple implants together to secure a complete set of removable or fixed dentures. The main advantage of using titanium dental implants is that they fuse with the natural jawbone material and prevents the bone loss that occurs with tooth loss.

Once the dental implant is placed, a dental crown is adhered to the support post, usually made out of titanium. This structure is now the new replacement tooth that look, feel and function just like natural teeth. And because they are anchored in the bone with strong supports, they are designed to last for decades.

How long does a dental implant process take?

The entire dental implant process can take months from start to finish. First, your dentist will need to evaluate the health and strength of the bone in the area where the missing tooth is. Often, when teeth are absent for too long, the blood and nutrient supply decreases, weakening the bone in the empty space where the tooth used to be. In these cases, a bone graft is required. This means that a tiny piece of healthy, strong bone from one area of the body is removed and place in the jaw where the implant will go. Time is then devoted to waiting for the bone graft to heal and stimulate new bone growth in your jaw. Once the jawbone is strong and ready to receive a dental implant, the placement procedure is scheduled. The actual procedure time may take just 1-2 hours.

Does dental implant surgery hurt?

At Glacier Peak Dentistry, we aim to make your dental visits and procedures as comfortable as possible. During a dental implant procedure, the nerves are numbed with medication so no pain is felt during the procedure. To help relieve general anxiety about the procedure we have other options such as oral conscious sedation or nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas”. At your initial consultation, we will discuss any and all options to help make your dental implant procedure go as smoothly as possible.

Mild swelling and discomfort may be present after the procedure but pain, if present, tends to be mild and short-lived depending on the number of implants placed. If pain persists or is more severe than expected, the team at Glacier Peak Dentistry wants to be notified as soon as possible so we can do what we can to ensure our patients’ comfort and health.

What is the recovery process for dental implants?

Recovery time from dental implant placement can vary depending on a variety of factors including:

For single implant placement procedures with no bone grafting, swelling and discomfort are likely to be minimal and short-lived, likely just a few days. Most do well on a soft to liquid diet in order to minimize irritation and discomfort. After around a week to 10 days, you should be able to resume your regular diet or progress as tolerated but don’t worry, our team at Glacier Peak Dentistry will walk you through it all.

How do I care for my new implant?

Caring for your new dental implant is a breeze. They look, feel, and function just like natural teeth, and caring for them is very similar. Dental implants are designed to last but they will shine if they are brushed and flossed daily, ideally twice a day. A soft nylon toothbrush will also be gentle on the implant and be less abrasive than stiffer brushes that can damage the enamel of the artificial tooth. In addition to avoiding hard, stiff bristles, proper care of dental implants includes: