4 Steps to a Dental Implant

implant process

San Francisco and Marin CA

Missing teeth is more than just a cosmetic dental issue. While gaps in teeth can cause embarrassment, negatively impacting someone’s self-confidence, missing teeth can also carry serious oral-health consequences. A missing tooth can hinder someone’s ability to chew and cause jawbone shrinkage due to bone loss, causing a face to lose fullness over time. When teeth are missing, other surrounding teeth move and shift to fill the gap, causing further issues that will need to be addressed.

Thankfully, dramatic technological advancements have led to a revolutionary tooth restoration option. Dental implants – which look, feel and behave like natural teeth – are a multi-part solution for missing teeth. Let’s look at each step of the process: 

Step 1: tooth removal/jawbone prep

If a tooth isn’t already missing but needs to be pulled due to damage or decay, the first step in the dental implant procedure is to pull the affected tooth. When a tooth is severely decayed, the decay can penetrate the jawbone and cause it to decay as well. In this case, the jawbone will need to be prepared with a bone graft that fills in areas where bone loss has occurred. Bone is usually grafted from synthetic bone, bone from another part of the body or from a human tissue bank. Healing, on average, takes 3-6 months.

Step 2: dental implant placement

Once the jawbone is healed, it’s time to start the implant! This part of the process involves drilling a space into the jawbone where a metal “root” will later be inserted for the new tooth. Cosmetic dentists use X-rays and 3D imaging to determine where to place the implant while avoiding nerves. Once the implant is placed, the jawbone is almost instantly stimulated to begin growing and fusing around the implant. This process, called osseointegration, provides a secure place to attach the new tooth. It usually takes 3-9 months to heal; meanwhile, a “healing cap” is often placed atop the implant. The cap ensures the implant stays clean while shaping the gums for better crown placement.

Step 3: abutment placement

After the bone has grown and secured the implant in place, the healing cap will be removed, and the abutment will be placed. The abutment is a screw-like piece – usually titanium or other non-reactive metal – connecting the crown to the implant. Sometimes, the abutment will be placed at the same time as the implant. Local anesthesia will likely be used – not because the abutment placement will hurt, but because it must be tightened to make sure the dental implant stays in place.

Step 4: crown placement

Now the implant is ready for the crown, which is the custom-made “tooth” part of the implant. The dentist will make an impression of the mouth to determine the needed tooth size. Crowns can be permanent or removable. A permanent crown is cemented into the mouth as if it were a real tooth. The dentist will make sure the crown fits and leaves enough space for floss and that the patient feels no pain when biting down.

Dental implants are state-of-the-art tooth replacements that look, feel and act like natural teeth. Using a multi-part process, implants restore more than a smile – they restore self-confidence and oral health.

Dental Implants in Marin and San Francisco, California

Dental implants are a revolutionary treatment that can provide a permanent tooth replacement that protects your jawbone and your overall health. With multiple benefits that stem beyond restoring a bite surface, it’s easy to see how dental implants are increasing in popularity. If you have a missing tooth and want to know if dental implants are the best treatment for you, contact our Marin dental office that offers dental implants. Please call Glen Park Dental at (415) 799-3900 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today.