Surgical Phase of Treatment
Implants can be placed when a patient is under a local or general anaesthetic or under IV sedation. The gum tissues are opened to expose the jawbone, precise hole(s) are drilled into the jaw bone and implants placed, secured and the overlying gum tissue sutured during the healing phase. After the healing, the top of the implant(s) are uncovered so that it is exposed and can be used for attachment of a tooth, bridge, or denture.
In some situations, there may be infective tissue present or severely deficient bone that can adversely affect the implant surgery. It may be then, necessary to postpone the procedure and regenerate the bone prior to implant placement. Bone substitutes can be autogenous bone (your own bone), bovine (pig) bone or artificial bone in an attempt to promote bone growth around the implant. The bone grafting procedures can be conducted in a separate surgical procedure or may be done at the same time as implant placement depending on the severity of deficient bone.
Sometimes, if the gum tissues around the implant sites are thin, it can be beneficial to thicken the gum either prior to implant placement or after the implant(s) has healed to increase the longevity of the implant(s).
The healing phase following surgery varies from patient to patient but typically occurs between 3-6 months (or more when bone grafts or sinus elevation grafts are performed). This process is known as osseo-integration whereby the implant fuses with the surrounding bone to form a new stable and solid tooth root.
Osseo-integration is affected by many factors. Some of these factors include the quality of the bone into which the implants have been placed into. This includes the volume of bone as well as the anatomy and density of bone. The latter describing cortical (thick) or cancellous (spongy) bone. The surface topography, structure and composition of the implants also plays an important part. Since the 1960's the structure and composition of dental implants have evolved and undergone through many modifications in order to maximise osseo-integration and decrease the healing time.
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