These days, when one is missing teeth, there are other options out there besides dentures. Dental implants are one of the most popular options. While expensive, they are well worth it, because you end up with the next best thing to your own real teeth. A lot of people are nervous about the procedure though, because there are so many untrue horror stories out there. Let’s take a look at what you can really expect from a dental implant procedure.

Preparing for Surgery

Your dental surgeon may offer up some instructions for you to follow prior to the dental implant surgery. These instructions include rinsing with anti-bacterial mouthwash, taking antibiotics for a few days before the surgery, not eating for at least 7-8 hours prior to surgery, making sure you have a driver to take you home following the surgery, etc.

Surgery Phase One

There are two phases to dental implant surgery. The first phase is placing the actual dental implant. The surgeon will cut the gum so the bone is exposed. Then, holes will be drilled into the bone, and the posts for the implant will be put into place. These act as roots, so they are implanted deeply. You will likely be given a temporary denture to fill in the gap that will be left after the surgery. It can take up to three months to heal before the second phase can begin.

Surgery Phase Two

The second phase of the surgery involves waiting for the bone and posts to fuse together in a process known as osseointegration. This can take as long as six months to happen. When the process is complete, you will have a strong base to hold your new dental implant. It may be necessary to have one more surgery for placing the abutment, which is what the crown will attach to. This is minor surgery and can be done with local anesthesia.

Choosing New Teeth

The next step in the process is to choose your new teeth. About one to two weeks after the abutment is placed, the tooth or teeth can be attached. Impressions will be made after the gums heal, to ensure that the implants are a perfect fit. Once your jawbone is strong enough, the new teeth will be placed.

How Long it Takes

How long the entire process will take depends on a number of factors, including your dental health, how many teeth need to be replaced, which teeth need to be replaced, and if you need to have an extraction before the implant procedure. As a rule, the process tends to take about six to nine months, depending on various factors, including your overall health and how well you follow your dentist’s after-care instructions.

Amount of Pain Involved

Obviously, there will be some discomfort when you have dental implant surgery. But, by going to the professionals, you can be sure that your pain will be minimal, because all of the latest technology is used, including sedation dentistry. Medications will be prescribed to keep pain after the surgery to a minimum.

Side Effects

While there are no lasting side effects from dental implant surgery (except for a great looking smile), you will likely experience a bit of bruising afterwards. You may also experience some swelling of the gums and soft tissue. If you have any pain, it can usually be treated with an regular pain killing medication such as ibuprofen, codeine, or hydrocodone. In most cases, people are able to return to work within a day or two of having this type of oral surgery.

Author's Bio: 

Jane Hurst, writer from San Francisco. Find her on Twitter!