There has been a lot of dental surgery going on around here. The information I collected at the AAID seminar has been put to good use!

If you are new to the entire dental implant procedure, the next few posts will be helpful for you to read. Every implant surgery is unique to the individual receiving it; every case is different. Dental implants require more than drilling a hole in your mouth and sticking an artificial tooth in that hole. (Ugh, that sounds like cruel torture stated so bluntly!) That is basically what dental implantation is; however, because we are not cavemen and have all kinds of brilliant technology and intelligent doctors* handling your oral ailments, you can be assured that such a surgery will be done with the utmost care and precision with long-term sustainability in mind.

Let’s say, in a “simple” case, a tooth has been extracted, lost, or missing for years. There is no tooth — or no healthy tooth — and the doctor determines that an implant is needed. After several careful measurements; x-rays; sizes; ways, shapes, and forms are recorded, the drilling begins. Don’t worry; you’d be under anesthesia. The place for the tooth in your jawbone or facial bones, depending on where the tooth is going, is drilled into and prepared for the implant base that will be twisted, screwed in, and anchored.

Side note: I have mentioned one-piece implants here before, but I will not bring that up just yet. Just imagine for a second that we’re using typical, two-piece implants.

After the base is screwed in nice and tight, the second piece is anchored onto it. This second piece is what the crown of the artificial tooth will fit onto. When the below-the-surface hardware has healed and integrated into the surrounding bone with no complications, the crown is installed. The crown, by now, has been formulated by the doctor after more measurements and math. In my holistic practice, it would be important for me to be sure this new tooth isn’t just some standard tooth that looks good alongside the others. This tooth must fit into the body’s naturally designed chewing system so that it does not interfere in any way with other teeth or the whole jaw. If it were to interfere, it could break, cause other teeth to wear down or break, or change how you chew in a way that might be detrimental to your jaw joints. I’ll go on about this later.

So finally, that crown is inserted and anchored into the implant site, allowed to heal, and there you have it: a brand-new tooth.

This is a problem-free version. Questions patients might have include:

What about if there is not enough bone to drill into?

What if multiple teeth in a row need to be adjusted?

How long does the entire process take?

Does it even look good afterwards?

I’m terrified of this procedure, but if I let my condition worsen, I will be infected and in pain the rest of my life. Which poison do I choose?

Oh, we’ll go over it all. Thanks for reading!

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles

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