The dental implant procedure is relatively straightforward. Your doctor will make a space in your jawbone for a metal rod, which will be used as a base to hold an abutment and artificial tooth. However, there are some key variations on this procedure. The exact method your dentist uses to perform your dental implant surgery will depend on your oral health, desires, and needs. Here are three options your dentist might use during your procedure:
1. General Anesthesia
Many dentists choose to perform dental implant surgery using only local anesthesia. Local anesthesia works by blocking nerve signals in a specific part of your body, which means your dentist can work without causing you pain. Local anesthesia is usually preferable because it carries fewer risks than general anesthesia and allows the patient to be fully cognizant and capable of driving after the surgery.
If you have a dental phobia that might make the dental implant surgery more difficult for you, your dentist may offer to perform the procedure while you're under the influence of general anesthesia instead. General anesthesia will allow you to sleep through the implant surgery. When you awake, the procedure will be done, and you'll be released as soon as the anesthetic wears off.
2. Single Day Dental Implants
When you get traditional implants, the implant is placed in a hole in your jawbone, and the bone is allowed to fully heal. Once the implant has been locked in place through the healing process, your dentist will reopen your gums to access the implant and then attach the abutment and artificial tooth to finish the procedure. The healing process can take several weeks, which means you will have to deal with a gap in your teeth in the meantime.
Single-day dental implants are another possibility for patients. Your implant will still need to fully heal before the final artificial tooth is put in place, but your dentist can attach a temporary tooth in the meantime. Many patients prefer this option because it gives them a normal smile and allows them to chew more naturally in the interim.
3. Bone Graft
If you don't have sufficient bone mass to support a dental implant, or if your bone isn't stable enough, your dentist may recommend a bone graft. During a bone graft, a doctor will take a sample of bone from another part of your body and place it in your jaw. The bone sample will fuse to your jawbone, creating a stable place to anchor a dental implant.