When it comes to replacing missing or significantly damaged teeth, nothing beats the results you’ll get with dental implants. A dental implant replaces your tooth by placing a metal post in your jawbone that supports a crown above your gum. Not only do dental implants function like a real tooth, but the post in your jaw simulates a new tooth root and helps prevent bone loss.
Even though dental implants are a surgical procedure and require some healing time, they’re a lot easier than you think. If you’re considering implants, Dr. Juan M. Carrillo in Richmond, Virginia, works closely with you to make sure you’re comfortable throughout the entire process.
When you’re getting an implant, the first step is having x-rays or CT scans taken of your mouth to check your jawbone and gum health. This process is painless and helps Dr. Carrillo identify any potential issues that could affect your procedure.
Next, Dr. Carrillo takes an impression of your mouth to create a replica of the area. Dr. Carrillo uses this model of your teeth to create your crown. A crown is an artificial tooth connected to the top of your implant. Getting impressions isn’t a painful experience, but it can be uncomfortable for people with an active gag reflex. If you’re worried about having dental impressions, Dr. Carrillo can take additional steps to increase your comfort.
The last step when you’re getting an implant is prepping the site. If your implant will replace an existing tooth, Dr. Carrillo needs to remove it before placing your post.
To prepare the site for tooth extraction, Dr. Carrillo administers lidocaine, a form of anesthesia commonly known as novocaine. When you have a tooth removed, the procedure itself isn’t painful, but you might experience mild discomfort for a few days afterward.
It’s also important to avoid specific actions, like spitting, drinking through a straw, or smoking, because they can increase your discomfort and lead to dry socket. Dry socket is a painful issue that develops when the nerves and bones in your gum become exposed.
In some cases, Dr. Carrillo can do your entire implant procedure in one visit — even if you have a tooth removed — but they often take multiple appointments.
To place your implant, Dr. Carrillo identifies the ideal location in your jawbone and uses a drill to secure the metal post in place. Because Dr. Carrillo numbs the site in advance, this part of the implant process is painless and usually feels similar to having a cavity drilled. Depending on the placement of your implant, you may need stitches to help your gum heal.
While getting your implant isn’t painful, you’ll likely have some discomfort when your anesthesia wears off. Dr. Carrillo provides detailed instructions to help keep you comfortable as you heal, like eating soft food and applying ice packs to your face near the treatment site. He also prescribes pain medications that should reduce any pain sensations. It usually takes 7-10 days for your pain to subside completely.