Dental Implants FAQs From Our Patients in San Diego
Surgery and Implant Placement
The implant surgery takes between one to two hours and will be performed in an operatory at Dr. Kennie Kwok’s’ office.
Am I a good candidate for dental implants?
Dr. Kennie Kwok and your general dentist will work together with you to determine if you are a good candidate for implant therapy. They will make a complete evaluation of your oral health status, the condition of your gums, teeth and supporting structures as well as any dentures or dental work. They will take X-rays, make replicas of your teeth and jaws for guidance in placing your implants. Your jaw will be assessed for any special considerations that may require treatment before implant placement. In some cases a bone graft, or guided bone regeneration may be required to ensure adequate bone to anchor the implant.
Your medical health will also be evaluated as well as any special medical conditions you may have and medications you take.
Your doctors will consider the health of your gums, oral tissues and the shape of your jaw as well as instruct you in oral hygiene practices to help you prepare for and maintain your implants. Healthy gums are more likely to heal round an implant properly.
What precautions should I take before surgery?
Before or after the surgery you may be asked to take oral antibiotics and use antiseptic mouthwash. You will also be asked to brush your teeth carefully the morning of your surgery.
What happens during the surgery?
You may be given a sedative if you like and local anesthesia will be administered. After you are anesthetised Dr. Kennie Kwok will expose your jaw bone and prepare one to several precisely measured holes. Very gentle low speed drilling and extensive saline irrigation will be used to promote healing of the delicate bone tissue more quickly. Dr. Kennie Kwok then places the titanium implant and sutures the soft tissues back around the neck of the implants, which will extend to the gum line. The implants are designed so that the living bone tissue will bond rigidly to them, usually in about 6-8 weeks.
What happens after surgery?
You will be given post-operative instructions to care for the surgical site. An ice-pack held to your face will reduce any swelling. Your assistant may give you a prescription for pain medication, along with further instructions from Dr. Kwok.
The first day at home you may drink liquids and start a soft diet. Take your antibiotics and pain medications as prescribed and continue to use ice-packs and gauze as needed. Proper home care with frequent rinsing helps prevent infection and assists the healing process.
Two to four weeks after the surgery, sutures may be removed. At two weeks you will be asked to clean your mouth with a soft-bristled toothbrush to prevent plaque build-up. Shortly before healing is complete, Dr. Kwok will evaluate the restored shape of your gums and decide if any adjustments are necessary.
When can I resume my normal activities?
Most people return to work within a day or two of surgery. You will make routine visits to Dr. Kennie Kwok to ensure proper healing.
For denture patients, two to three weeks after surgery, your general dentist or Dr. Kwok may reline your old denture. Should any soreness develop, be sure to contact your general dentist or Dr. Kwok who will relieve the pressure under your dentures. You will usually have a restorable implant within 3 months of placement.
Creating and Attaching your new teeth
When osseointegration is complete and your jaw and gums are completely healed, you are ready for the making and attaching of your new teeth. Osseointegration may take between 6 weeks and 6 months depending on whether a bone graft was needed at the implant site. A grafted site takes longer to heal. When the implant is ready for the crown, you will begin working with your general dentist.
How will my new teeth attach to the implants?
Before referring you back to your dentist Dr. Kennie Kwok must remove the temporary screws from your healed implants and insert abutments (special attachments) in their place. He may take an x-ray beforehand to confirm the osseointegration of the implants.
How are my new teeth created?
With the abutments in place your dentist will make impressions (molds) of your mouth and imprints the way your jaws fit together. These are used to construct a model of your jaws, teeth and the abutments.
From this model, your dentist will create a prosthesis (an artificial replacement tooth). To ensure the best fit this may take several visits to your dentist over a period of several weeks. during this time you can continue to wear your old denture, partial or single false tooth.
Once the best fit is made the new prosthesis (single tooth or bridge) will be attached to the abutments previously placed on your implant(s).
What precautions should I take when using my new teeth?
Your dentist may ask you not to eat hard or crunchy food for a few weeks after your prosthesis is installed. After that, make sure never to chew on ice, pencils, metal or other hard objects which may damage your prosthesis.
What problems should I report?
Call your general dentist if:
- you have pain or discomfort in your jaws
- your new teeth are loose
- your new teeth do not fit together correctly
- the prosthesis chips or breaks
Caring For Your New Teeth
Dental implants need special care to keep them clean and trouble-free. Much of the success of osseointegration depends on keeping each abutment post clean and plaque-free. After the placement of your prosthesis your general dentists will evaluate the progress of your home care at your check-up appointments.
If your prosthesis feels loose don’t hesitate to call your general dentist who, in most situations, can quickly rectify the problem.
How do I clean my new replacement teeth?
Just like natural teeth, you should clean both the prosthesis and the abutment, after each meal. However, it is important that you develop personal cleaning techniques to suit your own needs.
You should brush both the inside and the outside of a removable prosthesis. Then brush around the gum and abutments with the prosthesis removed.
Brush a fixed prosthesis thoroughly as you would natural teeth. You may want to use an inter dental brush with a bent handle to clean around the abutment posts. Make sure that the inter-dental brush has a nylon-coated center wire to avoid scratching the soft metal surface of the abutment post. Your dentist should be able to recommend the home care kits that will work best for you.
With dental implants you will need to floss even more than before. You may be asked to use a special floss.
Floss around the abutment posts of removable prosthesis with your teeth removed. Use floss or other suggested non-metallic instruments around the front, sides and back of the abutment posts of fixed or removable prosthesis.
When will I need dental check-ups?
Your general dentist should check the fit of your prosthesis and clean your abutment posts as necessary at least twice a year.
You should see Dr. Kennie Kwok once a year to check the stability of your anchored implants and the health of your gums and jaw.