Dental Implants: Are They for Me?
By Thomas D. Taylor, D.D.S., M.S.D., and William R. Laney, D.M.D., M.S.
Stage 2 Surgery (For Those Implant Types Requiring a Second Surgery)
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The second stage of surgical treatment can usually be done on an outpatient basis in a dental office setting 3 to 6 months after the implants have been placed. The surgeon will numb the area of previous surgery with a local anesthetic to make you more comfortable. The gum tissue is then opened in the area of the implants to expose them. Extension posts, called abutments, are attached to the implants. (Eventually your new teeth will be attached to these abutments.) At this time, the implants are examined to be certain of their firmness and integration with the bone. The gums are then put back in place around the abutments and sutured (stitched) closed. Protective caps are screwed onto the abutments, and a surgical packing or your old denture with a soft lining is then placed over the abutments to help the gum tissues heal and to lessen discomfort.
At this phase of treatment, the dentist will want to determine that osseointegration has been achieved and that the abutments are firmly and accurately attached to the implants. This requires an x-ray.
Several days after the abutments are attached, the surgical pack can be removed. If you are wearing a denture with a temporary lining, your dentist will continue to refit the lining to keep your mouth comfortable. You will be instructed in the method to be used for keeping the abutments clean.
As with the stitches placed in your first surgery, those used to close the soft tissues during abutment connection will usually come out by themselves within 10 to 14 days. If not, or if a non-dissolving type of material is used, your dentist or surgeon will remove them.
Scientific data do tell us that implant systems based on osseointegration are predictable and highly successful. Your dentist can discuss this with you.