Posted on: 6 January 2023Share
For a dentist to insert a dental implant into your jawbone, they'll need to go through your gums. Dental implants are small titanium screws that function just like a tooth's natural root. The bone literally heals around the implant, which gives it the stability it needs. Once this healing process has happened, your dentist can finish the procedure by adding a permanent prosthetic tooth, which is made of porcelain. But what sort of impact will this have on your gums?
Accessing Your Jaw
A dentist has two options for accessing your jaw. The traditional approach is for a small flap of gum tissue to be created using a scalpel. The flap can be raised, allowing your dentist to access your alveolar ridge (which is the part of your jawbone that's going to host the implant). Don't worry, because you would have been given a strong local anesthetic beforehand, so you won't feel any of this.
In some cases, no gum flap is needed. Your dentist can use a surgical punch tool to create a small hole in your gum tissues, which is the exact circumference of the implant. The end result is the same (your alveolar ridge is accessed), and the only difference is the method.
Once the implant has been placed, your dentist has to cap it, which gives your jawbone and gum tissues time to heal. A healing abutment is placed over the implant, sealing it in. When the access hole is punched, the abutment can be placed in a way that allows it to protrude through your gums. As your gums heal, the abutment will look like a small metal disc poking out of your gums.
When your jaw was accessed through a gum flap, your dentist may opt to suture the gum tissues over the healing abutment. This can assist the healing process for your jaw and gum tissues. When the implant's permanent tooth is ready to be fitted, your dentist simply makes a small incision in your gums to reach the implant. But does this mean you'll have a gap in your smile until the implant has healed?
Temporary Prosthetic Tooth
If the implant is to replace a prominent tooth (visible when you speak or smile), they can give you a temporary prosthetic tooth. It's made of acrylic materials but will look realistic enough in the short term. This is called a dental flipper and is a single false tooth attached to the teeth on either side of the gap with clasps. It's only cosmetic, and has no load-bearing capabilities—so you'll have to be careful when eating with it.
So while most of the healing process happens in your jawbone, your gums still have an important role to play.