I’m sure you have heard all sorts of stories. Some good and some bad, and some that belong in a horror story! But implant dentistry is a very simple and most often a low pain experience. The fear of the unknown is sometimes the worst part about the process. I can assure you that having an implant is a huge anticlimax, although the new smile definitely won’t be! I’ve written this blog to try and change the ‘unknown’ into the ‘known’, and hopefully, give you an insight into the implant procedure.
Getting to know you as a patient
At MODUS, we start all implant dentistry treatments with a consultation with a consultation with Matthew Perkins. This is the most important part. We get to meet you, get to know your mouth and we get to know you as a person. Yes, we get to know you! Shocking for a dental practice I know, but this isn’t a one appointment kind of relationship. You will have multiple appointments to get you to the end result.
At the end of the consultation we will have a goal and know how to get there. At MODUS, information and planning is at the heart of our dentistry, and that brings us to the next step on our journey. Implant Records! Its information gathering with me. I’ve also made it sound more exciting than it is, but to us dental people it is exciting.
At the implant records appointment, we take a 3D X-ray – which is pretty cool, and an intra-oral scan (a laser over your teeth to form a digital 3D replica of your mouth). This appointment is also a great time for questions because when we next see you it will be the big day….. Surgery day.
The big day!
The day has arrived, and you are now one step closer to getting your smile back!
The appointment starts with some pre-op drugs, nothing exciting- sorry to disappoint! It includes some painkillers and anti-inflammatories, followed by some reading – the consent form! Once read and signed, its time to go up.
It’s perfectly normal to feel nervous, but as I said at the beginning- its the fear of the unknown. Time to make yourself comfortable and the good thing is , the chair has massage and heat settings.
A lot of people think that the process of implant dentistry takes hours and you need to have your mouth open the whole time, but I will let you into a secret, at MODUS this isn’t the case. It takes longer to clean the surgery and put everything away afterwards!!
A single implant takes around 15 minutes, and you can have as many breaks as you want. Contrary to popular belief dentists don’t like to torture people, and the most important thing is your comfort.
I’m not going to go into huge amounts of details about the procedure, I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. The stages of implant placement are quite simple. The first step is to numb the area (it will sting), when this is working, an incision will be made. This will be our working area, and we use instruments to keep your gums and unruly tongue out of the way.
Its time to make the hole for the implant to go into. Placing an implant is like putting a screw into the wall, so if you are into DIY then you know that to put a screw in the wall, you need to have a hole to do so, and this is the same in your mouth (weird I know). We use a sequence of drills, starting small and get larger until we have the size of the implant. Easy.
Now the part that this has all been for, its time to put the implant in!
A sterile, titanium screw. This is the only time we need your mouth open. We have reached the pinnacle, although you won’t know that and it will feel like the rest of the appointment, we are there.
Its now time for some beautiful embroidery. Time to put you back together and pretend we were never there. To do this we use sutures, they are small and you will play with them with your tongue. P.S. we will tell you not to – but I’m sure you will).
Its over. An anticlimax like I said.
Now for the post-operative instructions, the most important part! We will go through them all and give you a written copy, which will be in your goodie bag. Unfortunately, there is no cake or little yellow stretchy man, just more painkillers and some mouthwash. I know what your thinking, you would probably prefer cake, but the mouthwash is better in this case.
Now if your not sure how implants work, but you don’t leave this appointment with a tooth. You wont see what we have done. Its all under the surface healing, and becoming one with you (singing spice girls in my head). The bit that you actually want is yet to come. The infrastructure is now in place and you are a step closure to getting your tooth.
Its 10-12 weeks later and you’re back. This appointment is your un-covery. Its time to find out if everything has worked, and if we can give you your tooth in 3 weeks time.
To do this, we have to do a little nick in your gum so it does involve another numbing injecting -sorry! Once you are numb, we make a tiny incision over where the implant is living, so we can access it.
You’re properly thinking at this point, how do we fix the tooth into the implant, well let me enlighten you. The implant has an internal screw, and on the day of your surgery, we placed a miniature screw inside the implant to stop you growing inside of it! (gross) This is what we are removing today and this is how the tooth will fit in.
So, in reality, this appointment is just us using a screwdriver and removing a miniature screw. To know if the implant has worked we use a stability measuring device (it is actually called a penguin – but that doesn’t sound very professional). It gives us a measurement out of 100, anything over 50 allows us to put a tooth on the implant. So its all good news, it is time to make the tooth!!
At MODUS we don’t use big horrible putty impressions (you know the ones that make you gag, yeah we don’t use them as I said at the beginning we don’t want to torture you), instead, you will be faced by the intra-oral scanner again. Whoop!
The intra-oral scanner
To do this we screw a peg in the implant (advanced, I know) which allows the scanner to pick up the position and angle of the implant compared to your other teeth. This scan will be more detailed than the one at the planning appointment but is just as pain-free and comfortable. Now it’s my time to shine (I like to consider myself the Laurence Llewelyn Bowen of tooth shades). I will take photos and shade comparisons to ensure you get a tooth that looks like it never left in the first place!
Before you leave, we will remove the scanner peg and place a screw that will slightly stick out of the gum. This new screw means NO MORE INJECTIONS. It will stop the gum from growing into the implant.
And now the countdown begins.
Today is the day
Another 3 weeks past, its time, today is the day. I hope you have booked a fancy dinner to test this thing out.
The fitting of the tooth is actually really simple. Strangely, its involves a screwdriver, torque wrench and some PTFE tape. Ever wonder why you needed a dentist when all this stuff is in your toolbag?!.
We start by removing the screw in the implant, and now what we have been waiting for, its time to put this tooth in. The tooth is kept in place by an internal screw, which is accessed through a hole in the top, hence the need for a screwdriver (don’t worry its not an actually DIY screwdriver ).
The tooth is then torqued in- this means that is shouldn’t come loose when doing normal things like eating. Rarely, it does come loose, but no need to panic, just pop back (I know you just want a reason to see us) and it can be tightened back up.
Once tightened, a small roll of PTFE tape will be placed into the hole in the tooth. This is to protect the screw head, on top of this we then put some filling material to seal it up from the outside world. That’s it, its all over. You have been restored. Implant dentistry complete.
I hope this blog has shed some light on implant dentistry and it has hopefully calmed some nerves.