Dental Implant Team
There are a number of dental professionals that are involved when a patient receives a dental implant! Your general Dentist, an Oral Surgeon or Periodontist, a dental lab, and your dental hygienist. Every person is vital to the successful placement, restoration, and maintenance of your dental implant. Before you even begin treatment, your general Dentist will refer you to an Oral Surgeon or Periodontist for evaluation to see if you are a candidate for a dental implant. Let’s take a look at how each member of your implant team will work to best serve you!
Oral Surgeon or Periodontist
This dental professional is the clinician who will actually place your implant. Implant placement surgery is a one visit appointment unless you need a bone graft prior to your implant. Your doctor will numb the area with a local anesthetic injection and begin by making a small incision in the gum tissue. They will then drill a small hole in your jawbone and place your titanium implant. The gum tissue is stitched up around the portion of the implant that protrudes through the gum tissue which is covered with a temporary abutment, or healing cap, to protect it from damage and infection while you heal for up to six months.
During your healing time, your implant doctor will have you come in periodically for follow up appointments to make sure that everything is healing properly. After they see you each time, they will send a report to your general dentist to update them on your progress. At your final appointment, they will let you know that you are ready for restoration and will send a letter to your general dentist stating the same.
After your implant doctor clears you for restoration, your general dentist will take over. Your first visit to your dentist will be a quick appointment to take impressions of your mouth. Your dentist will use these impressions to make models which they will send to the dental lab. The lab will use the models to fabricate your implant restoration, be it an individual crown, a bridge, or a denture. Once your dentist receives your case from the lab, usually about two weeks later, they will have you come back for a second appointment to try in your implant restoration. At this appointment, they will make sure everything is perfect, the contacts, your bike, and the shade. If everything is perfect, they can permanently place your restoration. If it is not perfect, they will send it back to the lab with the adjustments that need to be made noted on the lab direction slip.
Now that your implant is fully complete, your dental hygienist will step in for the maintenance stage. Your hygienist will play a key role in helping you maintain your implant, keeping it healthy to make sure it lasts as long as possible! Implant patients often benefit from more frequent professional cleanings than the typical every six months as implant care is a lifetime commitment. Once a year, your hygienist will take an x-ray of just the implant and surrounding bone structure and will take measurements of your gum pockets and will send all of that information to your implant surgeon to keep them up-to-date as well.
At your routine cleanings, your hygienist will assess your implant every time they see you. This will include:
- Discuss any issues you have experienced including any pain or sensitivity
- Mobility check to ensure the implant is secure
- Tissue evaluation to make sure gums are pink and healthy
- Plaque control with hand scaling and ultrasonic cleaning
Your hygienist will also make sure you know how to properly clean your teeth and implant at home and will provide you with the tools you need to keep everything healthy! Communication among your dental providers is crucial to the proper treatment and care of your mouth and implant. Dental implants are one of the best ways to restore missing teeth and though they do not necessarily require any special attention on your part, it is important that you visit your dentist regularly at the interval advised and that you have x-rays taken when needed. The only way to catch a problem with the actual implant is with x-rays...no one can see into your jaw bone on their own!