Dental implant surgery is a procedure that replaces tooth roots with metal, screwlike posts and replaces damaged or missing teeth with artificial teeth that look and function much like real ones. Dental implant surgery can offer a welcome alternative to dentures or bridgework that doesn’t fit well.
Like any surgery, dental implant surgery poses some health risks. Problems are rare, though, and when they do occur they’re usually minor and easily treated. Risks include:
- Infection at the implant site
- Injury or damage to surrounding structures, such as other teeth or blood vessels
- Nerve damage, which can cause pain, numbness or tingling in your natural teeth, gums, lips or chin
- Sinus problems, when dental implants placed in the upper jaw protrude into one of your sinus cavities
How you prepare
Because dental implants require one or more surgical procedures, you must have a thorough evaluation to prepare for the process, including a:
- Comprehensive dental exam. You may have dental X-rays taken and models made of your teeth and mouth.
- Treatment plan. Tailored to your situation, this plan takes into account factors such as how many teeth you need to have replaced and the condition of your jawbone. The planning process may involve a variety of dental specialists, including a doctor who specializes in conditions of the mouth, jaw and face (oral and maxillofacial surgeon), a dentist who works with the structures that support teeth (periodontist) and a dentist who will restore the implants with crowns, bridges or dentures.
Tell your doctor about any medical conditions and any medications you take, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs and supplements. If you have certain heart conditions or orthopedic implants, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics before surgery to help prevent infection.
To control pain, anesthesia options during surgery include local anesthesia, sedation or general anesthesia. Talk to your dental specialist about which option is best for you. Your dental care team will instruct you about eating and drinking before surgery, depending on what type of anesthesia you have. If you’re having general anesthesia, plan to have someone take you home after surgery and expect to rest for the remainder of the day.