If you are missing one or more teeth, either due to tooth decay or an accident that knocked out your teeth, your dentist has probably recommended implant surgery. During this procedure, he or she will insert titanium rods into your jaw. Later, false teeth will be mounted on those rods. Even though dental implant surgery is considered the premium means of dealing with missing teeth, many patients approach the procedure with apprehension because they're not quite sure what to expect.
The Recovery Process
Dental implant surgery is a real surgical procedure, so you will be put under general anesthesia. When you wake up, you won't feel any pain initially, but you will likely be given prescription pain relievers to take for the pain that begins to appear several hours post surgery.
Your jaw and gums will be sore, and you'll have to eat a diet of soft foods for about 1 week before you feel comfortable eating foods that require more chewing. You will have to take at least a few days off of work, but most patients can return to normal activities within a week or so. Avoiding intense exercise for a few weeks is generally advised. The entire healing process takes about 2 to 4 months, and your pain will gradually ease up during this period of time.
Having the Crowns Placed
Once you are suitably healed, your dentist will apply crowns to the tops of the titanium rods. This process is much simpler than the original surgery and is typically done under local anesthesia. Your mouth may be sore for a day or two, but once you're comfortable, you can slowly progress to eating crunchy foods again.
You'll get used to the implants within a few weeks, and then they will feel just like normal teeth. It takes a few months for your jaw bone to firmly latch onto the implant, and until that occurs, they may feel slightly (only slightly) wobbly in your jaw. No one will be able to tell that you have implants by looking at them – they look just like natural teeth. You, also, will forget that you have implants, as chewing and brushing your teeth feels completely natural.
When applied by an experienced dentist, dental implants can last a lifetime. About 98% of patients experience long-term success with implants. You can ensure yours serve you well by avoiding smoking and eating a balanced diet to promote gum and bone health.
Having implants applied is not as scary as it may seem. This has become a standard procedure for many dental surgeons, and the pain during recovery is easily managed with medication. Trust your dentist, take a deep breath, and schedule your appointment. You'll have new, natural-looking teeth in just a few weeks.