Dental Implants

About the Procedure

What is a Dental Implant?


Before delving further into dental implant surgery, it is important to clarify exactly what a dental implant is, and what it is not. Let’s start by emphasizing that dental implants are not actual teeth, but rather prosthetics. When we refer to implants, we are talking about the small titanium post or screw that is inserted into your jawbone, providing a stable foundation for a crown or bridge. It is crucial that the implant is placed accurately in three-dimensional space and in the correct position to ensure optimal functionality and durability. The crown, on the other hand, is the visible part of the tooth that you see in your mouth. The process of implant placement is the most intricate aspect of the procedure, as it involves interaction with the jawbone and gums. The presence of specific tissue surrounding the crown is essential for increasing the likelihood of a successful implant. If the implant is not properly positioned, it can result in instability of the tooth and potential complications for your overall oral health.

Dental Implant Stages:

Do you have a missing or damaged tooth (or teeth) that needs to be addressed? A dental implant offers a permanent solution to restore your smile. Dental implants can replace broken, decayed, or missing teeth, eliminating the need for bridgework or dentures. However, it’s important to note that the process is not instantaneous.

There are three major stages involved in dental implant treatment, which may take up to a year to complete. These stages include pre-surgical appointments, the actual surgery (consisting of three individual stages), and the subsequent recovery and follow-up appointments. If you’ve considered getting implants but are unsure about what to expect, keep reading as we will provide a detailed explanation of each stage of the dental implant procedure.

At East Rand Dental Studio, we prioritize informing our patients thoroughly about the procedures they are undertaking.


3 Stages of Dental Implant Surgery:

Dental implant surgery typically occurs in three distinct stages. Understanding these stages can help you better prepare for the procedure and have a clearer idea of what to expect.

  1. Initial Implant Placement: The first stage involves the actual placement of the dental implant into the jawbone. This is done through a minor surgical procedure where an incision is made in the gum tissue to expose the underlying jawbone. A small hole is then drilled into the bone, and the implant, usually made of titanium, is carefully inserted into the hole. The gum tissue is then stitched back in place, and the implant is left to heal and integrate with the jawbone over a period of several months.
  2. Abutment Placement: Once the implant has successfully fused with the jawbone in a process called osseointegration, the second stage of surgery takes place. The gum tissue is reopened, and an abutment, a small connector post, is attached to the implant. The abutment serves as the foundation for attaching the final prosthetic tooth or crown. The gum tissue is then closed around the abutment, allowing it to heal and form a natural contour.
  3. Prosthetic Placement: The third and final stage involves the placement of the prosthetic tooth or crown. After the abutment has had sufficient time to heal, impressions of your teeth and bite are taken to create a custom-made prosthetic tooth or crown that matches the rest of your natural teeth. This prosthetic is securely attached to the abutment, restoring the appearance and functionality of your missing tooth.

It’s important to note that the duration and specifics of each stage can vary depending on individual circumstances and the complexity of the case. Your dentist or oral surgeon will provide you with detailed instructions and guidance throughout the entire implant surgery process.


How much do Dental Implants cost?

The cost of dental implants can vary greatly. The price is influenced by two main factors: the type of implant you opt for and the condition of your oral health, which affects the complexity of the implant placement. On average, you can expect to pay between R18,000 to R30,000 per tooth. The cost can be substantially higher for a full mouth restoration. Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that your medical insurance will cover the entire cost of the implant procedure. Therefore, full payment is required on the day of surgery, and you can subsequently file a claim with your medical insurance for reimbursement.


What to expect Pre-Surgery:

Getting dental implants is not a simple walk-in procedure. The planning stage is essential because every patient has unique requirements.

Firstly, a comprehensive examination of the entire mouth is conducted to assess the overall oral health. A treatment plan is then developed to address any infections, fillings, or other necessary treatments.

Secondly, a CBCT scan is performed to evaluate the three-dimensional space in the jaw where the implant will be placed. This assessment determines whether you are a suitable candidate for the surgery by examining the jawbone and other surrounding structures supporting your teeth.

Thirdly, impressions of the upper and lower jaw are taken two weeks before the surgery. These impressions help map the density and profile of the soft tissue, and they play a critical role in designing the implant stent and the final prosthesis (crown) to ensure optimal aesthetics. If you qualify for immediate loading of the implant, the temporary crown design will also be based on these impressions.

During the surgery, the stent serves as a guide for accurately placing the implant in the predetermined position determined during the planning phase.

The final prosthesis is typically fabricated 6-9 months after the implant placement, allowing for adjustments and manipulation of the structures to achieve the best aesthetic result.

Why does all this pre-surgery preparation matter? Dental implants involve one or two surgical procedures, but thorough assessment and planning are necessary to ensure a proper fit in your mouth. The entire process can take between six to nine months to complete.


Will I be a candidate for Dental Implants?

Determining your eligibility for dental implants is a crucial part of the pre-surgery assessments. The ideal candidate for implants is someone who is in good overall health and has satisfactory oral health. This includes having healthy gums (without periodontal disease) and a strong jawbone, as both play a vital role in supporting the implant (prosthesis). Whether you are missing a single tooth or multiple teeth, you can typically qualify for dental implants. The cost per tooth may decrease when multiple teeth need to be replaced. However, there are certain groups of individuals who require additional consideration. If you have diabetes (either type 1 or 2), extra examinations may be necessary. Proper management of your blood sugar levels is essential to ensure successful healing. Immune deficiencies may also affect your candidacy as they can impede the healing process. Additionally, if you are pregnant, it may be advisable to postpone the surgery until after giving birth for optimal safety.


What to expect during your Dental Implant surgery?

When it comes to your dental implant surgery, it’s natural to wonder what to expect. The surgical process typically involves several key steps:

  1. Anaesthesia: Before the surgery begins, you will receive anaesthesia to ensure your comfort throughout the procedure. The type of anaesthesia used can vary based on your specific needs and preferences.
  2. Incision and Implant Placement: Once you are numb, the oral surgeon will make an incision in your gum tissue to access the underlying jawbone. Then, a small hole or socket will be drilled into the bone, and the dental implant, which is a titanium post, will be carefully inserted into the socket. This serves as a replacement for the natural tooth root.
  3. Healing Period: After the implant is placed, your body will need time to heal and allow the implant to integrate with the surrounding bone in a process called osseointegration. This can take several months, and during this time, a temporary crown or restoration may be placed to maintain aesthetics and functionality.
  4. Abutment Placement: Once the healing period is complete, the implant will be uncovered, and an abutment will be attached to it. The abutment acts as a connector between the implant and the final restoration.
  5. Final Restoration: Finally, a custom-made crown or bridge will be fabricated to match your existing teeth and then securely attached to the abutment. This completes the dental implant process, resulting in a functional and natural-looking tooth replacement.

Throughout the entire surgery, the oral surgeon and their team will ensure your comfort and provide any necessary instructions or post-operative care guidelines. It’s important to follow these guidelines to promote proper healing and successful integration of the implant with your jawbone.

Remember, each patient’s experience may vary slightly depending on individual factors, but the general steps outlined above give a good overview of what you can expect during your dental implant surgery.


What to expect during Dental Implant Recovery?

Recovery after dental implant surgery is a crucial phase in the overall treatment process. Here are some key aspects to expect during this period:

  1. Swelling and Discomfort: It is common to experience some swelling and discomfort in the days following the surgery. Your dentist or oral surgeon may prescribe pain medications or suggest over-the-counter pain relievers to manage any discomfort. Applying ice packs to your face in the first 24-48 hours can help reduce swelling.
  2. Bleeding: It is normal to experience slight bleeding or oozing immediately after the surgery. Your dentist will provide you with gauze pads to bite down on to help control the bleeding. If bleeding persists or becomes excessive, contact your dentist for guidance.
  3. Diet and Oral Hygiene: During the initial stages of recovery, it is important to stick to a soft foods diet to avoid putting excessive pressure on the implant site. As you heal, you can gradually reintroduce solid foods. It is crucial to follow any specific dietary instructions provided by your dentist.
  4. Oral Care: Maintaining proper oral hygiene is vital for a successful recovery. You should continue brushing your teeth, avoiding the surgical area during the initial days. Your dentist may recommend using a saltwater rinse or an antimicrobial mouthwash to keep the area clean.
  5. Follow-up Appointments: Your dentist will schedule follow-up appointments to monitor your healing progress. It is important to attend these appointments and inform your dentist of any concerns or complications you may experience during recovery.
  6. Healing Time: The complete healing process can take several months. During this time, the implant fuses with the jawbone through a process called osseointegration. Your dentist will provide guidance on the duration of the healing period based on your specific case.

It is crucial to closely follow all post-operative instructions provided by your dentist or oral surgeon. Any unusual or persistent symptoms, such as severe pain, excessive swelling, or implant movement, should be reported immediately. By taking proper care of yourself and following your dentist’s guidance, you can support a smooth and successful recovery after dental implant surgery.


How to protect your Dental Implants after Surgery:

After undergoing dental implant surgery, it’s essential to take proper care of your implants to ensure their long-term success. Here are some crucial steps to protect your dental implants during the healing process:

  1. Follow Oral Hygiene Instructions: Your dentist will provide specific instructions on how to care for your implants. It is important to follow these instructions closely. Brush your teeth gently, paying extra attention to the surgical area, and use a soft-bristled toothbrush or an interdental brush to clean around the implant. Be cautious not to apply excessive pressure or use abrasive toothpaste.
  2. Rinse with Saltwater: Your dentist may recommend rinsing your mouth with a warm saltwater solution after meals. This can help reduce inflammation, promote healing, and prevent infection. Mix a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and gently swish it around your mouth for about 30 seconds before spitting it out.
  3. Avoid Smoking and Tobacco Use: Smoking and using tobacco products can significantly hinder the healing process of your dental implants. They increase the risk of complications and implant failure. It is advisable to refrain from smoking or using tobacco during the entire healing period.
  4. Be Cautious with Your Diet: Stick to a soft foods diet for the first few days following surgery to avoid putting excess pressure on the implants. As you heal, gradually reintroduce solid foods, but be mindful of hard, sticky, or crunchy foods that can potentially damage the surgical site or strain the implants. Follow any dietary guidelines provided by your dentist.
  5. Protect Against Bruxism: If you have a habit of grinding or clenching your teeth, known as bruxism, inform your dentist. They may suggest wearing a nightguard to prevent excessive force and pressure on your implants, especially while you sleep.
  6. Attend Follow-up Appointments: Regular follow-up visits to your dentist are crucial for monitoring the healing progress of your implants. Attend all scheduled appointments and inform your dentist of any concerns or complications you may experience.

By following these guidelines and maintaining good oral hygiene habits, you can protect your dental implants and support their successful integration and long-term stability. If you have any questions or uncertainties, don’t hesitate to reach out to your dental professional for guidance and support.


What diet to follow after Dental Implant placement?

After implant placement, it is important to follow a specific diet to promote healing and protect the surgical area. Here are some dietary guidelines to consider:

  1. Soft Foods: Stick to a diet of soft and easily chewable foods for the first few days following implant placement. This helps prevent unnecessary pressure or strain on the surgical site. Examples of soft foods include mashed potatoes, yogurt, smoothies, soups, soft-cooked vegetables, scrambled eggs, and well-cooked pasta.
  2. Avoid Hard or Crunchy Foods: Steer clear of hard, crunchy, or chewy foods that may disrupt the healing process or potentially dislodge the implant. Examples include nuts, chips, hard candies, tough meats, raw vegetables, sticky foods, and crusty bread.
  3. Gentle Chewing: When you progress to eating slightly firmer foods, be mindful of gently chewing on the opposite side of the mouth from the implant site. This helps protect the area and reduce unnecessary stress.
  4. Balanced Diet: Despite the need for softer foods, it is essential to maintain a balanced diet that includes all the necessary nutrients for proper healing. Focus on incorporating nutrient-rich options such as lean proteins, cooked fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products to promote optimal healing and overall health.
  5. Hydration: Adequate hydration is crucial for optimal healing. Be sure to drink plenty of water and avoid sugary or carbonated beverages that could potentially irritate the surgical area.

Always follow your dentist’s specific dietary instructions, as individual cases may vary. They may provide additional recommendations based on your unique circumstances.

As the healing progresses, your dentist will guide you on gradually reintroducing firmer foods into your diet. It is important to communicate any concerns or discomfort you experience during eating to your dental professional, as they can provide tailored advice and support throughout the recovery process.


What can cause Implant failure?

  1. Inadequate Osseointegration: Successful dental implantation relies on the process of osseointegration, where the implant fuses with the surrounding jawbone. If the implant fails to integrate properly or fails to integrate at all, it can result in implant failure.
  2. Poor Oral Hygiene: Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial for implant success. Neglecting proper dental care, such as inadequate brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits, can lead to an accumulation of bacteria and plaque around the implant, causing infection and peri-implantitis (inflammation of the tissues surrounding the implant) which can ultimately result in implant failure.
  3. Peri-Implantitis: This is a severe form of gum disease that specifically affects the tissues surrounding dental implants. It can cause inflammation, bone loss, and implant instability if left untreated.
  4. Smoking and Tobacco Use: Smoking and using tobacco products have been shown to have a negative impact on the success of dental implants. These habits can slow down the healing process, impair osseointegration, and increase the risk of implant failure.
  5. Poor Bone Quality or Quantity: Sufficient bone density and volume are necessary to support a dental implant. If there is inadequate bone available or if the bone quality is poor, it can compromise the stability and longevity of the implant.
  6. Medical Conditions and Medications: Certain medical conditions, such as uncontrolled diabetes or autoimmune disorders, can affect the body’s ability to heal and increase the risk of implant failure. Additionally, medications like bisphosphonates or immunosuppressants may impact implant integration.

It is worth noting that while these factors can increase the risk of implant failure, proper planning, expert execution of the procedure, diligent oral hygiene, and regular dental check-ups can greatly minimize these risks. Consulting with a qualified dental professional and following their recommendations is crucial for maximizing the success and longevity of dental implants.


Implant Maintenance and the Importance of Follow-up Appointments:

Proper maintenance and regular follow-up appointments are essential for the long-term success and health of dental implants. Here are some reasons why these aspects are crucial:

  1. Oral Hygiene: Impeccable oral hygiene is vital for preventing complications and maintaining the health of your dental implants. Regular brushing, flossing, and using interdental brushes can help remove plaque and bacteria around the implant site, reducing the risk of infection and inflammation. Your dentist or dental hygienist can provide specific instructions on how to clean around the implants effectively.
  2. Professional Cleaning: Regular professional cleanings and exams by your dentist or dental hygienist are necessary to ensure thorough removal of any plaque or tartar buildup that cannot be addressed through regular homecare. This helps prevent complications such as peri-implantitis and keeps your implants and surrounding tissues in optimal condition.
  3. Monitoring Implant Health: Follow-up appointments allow your dentist to assess the health and stability of your dental implants. They can check for signs of inflammation, assess bone levels, evaluate the fit and integrity of the prosthetic restoration, and make any necessary adjustments or recommendations.
  4. Early Detection of Complications: Regular follow-up appointments increase the likelihood of detecting any potential complications or issues early on. Detecting problems in their early stages allows for more conservative and successful intervention, potentially preventing more significant issues and implant failure.
  5. Bite and Function Evaluation: Your dentist will check your bite alignment and the functionality of your dental implants during follow-up appointments. Adjustments can be made if necessary to ensure proper occlusion and minimize stress on the implants and surrounding structures.
  6. Recommendation for Additional Care: Follow-up appointments provide an opportunity for your dentist to recommend further care or treatments specific to your unique oral health situation. This can include the use of mouthguards, changes in oral hygiene techniques, or the implementation of specific protocols based on your specific needs.

Remember, regular maintenance and follow-up care are essential for the long-term success of dental implants. Developing a good relationship with your dentist and adhering to their recommended schedule will help ensure the longevity, functionality, and aesthetic appeal of your implants.


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