Dental implants

What is a Dental Implant Procedure?

A dental implant procedure is an outpatient surgery. The implant is made of titanium and other materials that fuse with your jawbone and imitate the root of a tooth.2

This artificial root allows the dentist to secure your replacement teeth so they feel stable and blend in with your surrounding teeth.

Getting dental implants requires several appointments, including a consultation, an appointment to place the implant, and another to attach the new teeth.


Growing children may not be able to get a dental implant until their jaw growth and development is complete.3 People with chronic diseases such as diabetes or leukemia may not be good candidates for dental implants because those conditions can interfere with healing after surgery.

If you smoke, your dentist may not recommend surgery since smoking can slow healing.2 Talk with your dentist about your medical history and lifestyle habits to ensure that you’re a good candidate for the procedure.

Purpose of a Dental Implant

A dental implant can replace one or more permanent teeth that have been lost to an injury, gum disease, tooth decay, or infection.3 When you talk with your dentist at the initial consultation, they may discuss other options for replacing the teeth as well, including dentures and bridges.

They’ll discuss with you whether you have enough space and bone in the area of the missing tooth for the procedure. If your tooth has been missing for a while, you may have bone loss and may require a bone graft before you are able to proceed with dental implant surgery.1

How to Prepare

Before the procedure, you’ll see your dentist for an initial consultation. Your dentist will give you a comprehensive examination. They’ll take X-rays and discuss with you the options to develop a plan for the implant surgery.4

Once you’ve developed a plan and they’ve established that you’re in good health, they’ll schedule the surgery appointment. If your dentist recommends IV sedation for the procedure, you’ll need to arrange for someone bring you home that day.


A dental implant procedure is typically done at a dental office and performed by a team of professionals trained in oral surgery and restorative dentistry.5

Food and Drink

If you are having local anesthesia, you can eat a light meal a couple of hours before the procedure. If the procedure will be done under IV sedation, you’ll be advised not to eat anything after midnight the night before the surgery to make sure your stomach is empty.


Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to take for a few days before surgery to prevent early implant failures.6 They may also have you rinse with a special anti-bacterial mouthwash, such as chlorhexidine.7

Pre-Op Lifestyle Changes

Smoking may lower the success of dental implants because it can slow healing.3 If you smoke, talk with your dentist about whether you should get dental implants.

What to Expect During the Procedure

The dental implant procedure happens in multiple appointments that are usually several months apart. In the first phase, the surgical placement of the implant, your mouth will be thoroughly numbed with local anesthesia or you’ll be given IV sedation so you don’t feel any pain or discomfort.4

An incision is made in your gums to place the tooth root implant into the jawbone in the location of your missing tooth. Once the implant is placed, the dentist closes the gums over the implant so that it remains covered.8

You’ll recover at home and will probably come back for the second phase of the procedure in a few months. That gives enough time for the bone to grow around the implant, making it strong enough to stay in place. This process is called osseointegration, meaning the titanium combines with the bone.

Each patient heals differently, so it can take up to six months before the replacement teeth can be placed. In some cases, a patient can have everything placed in one appointment.2

Once the dentist determines that the implant is secure, a connecting piece called an abutment is placed over the post portion of the implant. This is the part that will hold the new tooth.

When your gums heal, the dentist will make impressions of your teeth and create a custom replacement tooth, also called a crown.4 The crown is then attached to the abutment.


If your dentist uses IV sedation, you’ll feel a little groggy for several hours. Be sure you arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure.

After the implants are placed, you may experience some bruising, swelling, minor bleeding, and pain. You may be advised to eat soft foods, cold foods, and warm soup while you’re healing.2 To help with any pain, your dentist will probably suggest over-the-counter medications, including Advil (ibuprofen).4

Long-Term Care

Dental implants typically require the same dental hygiene as your regular teeth. To keep them healthy, brush your teeth twice a day, floss, and see your dentist for regular follow-up appointments. Dental implants don’t get tooth decay, but they can be impacted by periodontal disease, so it’s important to practice good dental care.

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