Even though getting a dental implant is technically a surgical procedure, you don’t have to be asleep to get it done. In fact, you don’t actually need any sedation at all, if that’s what you prefer; however, many patients of Dr. Steven C. Hewett, D.D.S. in Champions Gate, FL, do choose to have minimal sedation to improve their experience during the treatment.
Are You Asleep During Dental Implant Surgery?
As mentioned above, getting an implanted tooth is not considered major surgery, and as such, the use of general anesthesia is not required for you to have the procedure. Many people get their implanted tooth without any sedation at all, and only receive the local anesthesia that numbs the treatment area where the implant is going to be placed. However, at our office, you have the option to get sedation to make the treatment more comfortable.
Dr. Hewett offers several sedation options to meet our patients’ various needs. An inhaled sedative, or nitrous oxide, can be used to relax you prior to and during the procedure. You’ll be fully awake the entire time and will remember the procedure. We also offer oral sedatives that provide a range of sedation from minimal to moderate. With oral sedatives, you won’t remember the procedure, but you also won’t be asleep, unless you happen to fall asleep on your own.
Using Sedatives for Implant Surgery
Patients who need a tooth implant, but are extremely anxious or fearful of the dentist can benefit from sedation during the procedure. Even though Dr. Hewett is a very gentle dentist, some patients are too frightened to get in the chair without a sedative to help them. Other patients have a low threshold for pain or have trouble sitting still during a long procedure. Minimal sedation can help you tolerate any dental procedure, including getting a tooth implant.
Even so, no two patients are alike, so not all sedative options are appropriate for every patient. We will meet with you at your consultation and initial examination to understand your fears and determine which sedation type is best for you. It will also depend on your overall health, the current medications and supplements you’re taking, and the type of dental procedure you need to have done. We will work with you to find a solution to your sedation requirements.
The Implant Procedure
Typically, the tooth implant procedure is done on an outpatient basis in our clinic over a series of visits. You may not require sedation for each visit, depending on what is scheduled to happen. For example, if it’s necessary to remove your damaged tooth or complete a bone graft to prepare for the implant, you may need sedation in addition to the local anesthetic. However, when we place the artificial tooth on the implant, you may not require sedation.
Tooth Removal and Bone Graft
The implant procedure begins with the removal of your damaged tooth if it hasn’t already been removed. If it’s determined that you don’t have enough bone in the area to support an implant, a bone graft may be necessary. This involves placing pieces of actual or artificial bone onto your jawbone under the gum line where your new implant will go. It will likely take several months for the transplanted bone to grow enough to support an implant.
If an implant is placed on a soft or insufficient jawbone without a bone graft, it will likely fail, and you’ll end up needing a graft anyway before you can get the implant replaced. This will only prolong your procedure and cost you more money. It’s far better to have your jawbone prepared properly to accept the implant the first time, even though you’ll be without your tooth for a few months before the implant can happen.
Placing the Implant
Once your jawbone is ready to receive the implant, we will schedule an appointment that will likely involve sedation. Even though you don’t have to use a sedative for this procedure, sedation can make the surgery more comfortable and time pass by more quickly while you’re in the chair. To place the implant, we’ll make an incision in your gum to expose the bone. Then, we’ll drill a hole into the bone where the metal post will be implanted.
The metal post must be placed deep into the bone because it needs to be durable enough to withstand the force you exert on your teeth when you chew. While you wait for your bone to grow around the implant, we will provide you with a temporary tooth for appearance reasons, which can be removed for cleaning. During this time, the implant actually becomes a part of your body and is integrated into your jawbone.
Placing the Abutment
An abutment will need to be placed on top of the implant to allow the artificial tooth, or crown, to be fixed onto the metal implant. Since we reopen your gum incision to place the abutment, you may choose to be sedated during this minor surgical procedure. You will also have a local anesthetic to numb the treatment area as well. Once the abutment is placed, we’ll close your gums around, but not over the abutment.
It’s possible to avoid this step by placing the abutment at the same time we insert the implant itself. However, because the abutment is a metal piece that protrudes above your gum, you may not want it to show while you wait for your bone to grow. If you prefer to have both procedures completed at the same time, you can avoid a second visit to place the abutment and the additional two weeks for your gums to heal.
Placing the Artificial Tooth or Crown
After your gums heal from either the implant procedure or the abutment placement, you’ll be ready to have your artificial tooth created and placed. Dr. Hewett is one of the few dentists who can create the tooth right in their office. Pictures and impressions are taken of your remaining teeth to make sure the one we create matches their shape and color. You’ll have the option of a removable crown or a fixed crown to be placed on the implant.
If you choose a removable crown, it will consist of the artificial tooth (or teeth), and a pink plastic base that blends in with your gums. It will resemble traditional dentures but is mounted on a metal frame that can snap onto the metal abutment attached to the implant. You are able to remove this type of crown for cleaning and while you sleep, and it can be repaired more easily than fixed crowns as well.
A fixed crown is one that is permanently screwed or cemented onto the metal abutment that’s attached to the implant. You are not able to remove this crown for cleaning or when you sleep. You will usually have one crown per implant, but metal implants are extremely strong and a single implant can support several teeth as long as they’re bridged together. We will discuss which method is best for you if you need more than one tooth replaced.
If you have minimal or moderate sedation during any procedure, you will be required to have a responsible adult drive you home from our office after your treatment. This is because the effects of the sedative can affect your awareness and reaction time, making it dangerous for you to drive a vehicle until it’s completely out of your system. If you only have inhaled sedation, we recommend having someone drive you home, but it may not be absolutely necessary.
You will need to eat soft foods until the surgical site heals following a bone graft and the implant and abutment placement procedures. The stitches we place to close the incision in your gum will dissolve on their own after a few days. You will not need to eat soft foods once you receive your artificial crown, as the procedure will be completely finished at this point, and no surgery or sedation is involved with this last step.
Results of Implant Surgery
Dr. Hewett’s patients love their new smiles once their implants and crowns are placed and the procedure is complete. We know you will too. To keep your implants healthy and beautiful, we recommend that you practice excellent oral hygiene by brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day; keeping regular dentist appointments for cleanings and checkups; and avoiding habits like smoking, chewing hard candy or ice, and grinding your teeth.
The implant itself is designed to last a lifetime. As previously mentioned, the implant becomes a part of your bone, so it’s not coming out of your mouth. Your crown can be damaged, though, and may need to be replaced if it breaks. Some crowns can be repaired, but usually, a replacement will be necessary. However, you won’t have to go through the implant surgery again because the implant and abutment will remain undamaged, as they’re protected by the crown.
The Ideal Implant Candidate
Almost anyone can get a dental implant if they’re missing one or more teeth, or have damaged teeth that can’t be saved. Your jaw must no longer be growing (i.e. you’re an adult), and patients with healthy gums are better candidates than those who have gum disease. Gum disease doesn’t preclude you from having an implant, but the issue will need to be addressed before you can go through surgery to ensure your gums and jaw will support an implant.
Even if you’ve lost significant bone in your jaw because you’re missing teeth, you could still be a good candidate for implants. In fact, getting implants to replace missing teeth prevents further bone loss and helps keep your mouth as healthy as possible from here on out. It’s not too late to get the smile you’ve always wanted, and with sedation options, you don’t have to be anxious or scared to visit us and get the dental help you need.
The next step toward restoring your amazing smile is to schedule your initial consultation with our office. We will examine your teeth and gums to develop a treatment plan that revolves around your implant and sedation requirements. Contact Dr. Steven C. Hewett, D.D.S. in Champions Gate, FL to book your evaluation appointment today.