When a patient visits an dentist's office with an infected or damaged tooth, most of the time, the practitioner is able to save the natural tooth. However, sometimes this isn’t possible, and then it is necessary to extract the tooth and replace it with a dental implant. Implantology is the branch of dentistry that deals with the permanent implantation of artificial teeth in the jaw. Dental implants are provided using the following general process when it is determined that a natural tooth must be removed.
- After a careful diagnostic examination has been conducted, the natural tooth is extracted.
- The jawbone is then prepared for the dental implant surgery. Some patients do not have sufficient bone density in their jaw to ensure a successful implantation, so it must be augmented with bone grafts prior to the implant process.
- During the dental implant surgery itself, the oral surgeon makes a cut to open the gum and expose the bone. Holes are drilled into the bone where the dental implant metal post will be placed. Since the post will serve as the tooth root, it’s implanted deep into the bone.
- After the post is placed, a waiting period is necessary to allow osseointegration, or for the post to integrate itself into the jawbone to provide a firm foundation for the dental implant. Often, a temporary tooth is provided during the waiting period (which can last up to six months), or the surgeon can suture the gum over the area containing the post to let it heal.
- Once osseointegration has taken place, the dentist will place the abutment and the crown. The crown is a fixed prosthesis, meaning it is permanently attached to the jaw and does not need to be removed the way dentures or removable bridges do.