Implants are one of my most frequently performed procedures. The particular method I choose in placing the implant depends on a variety of factors such as the oral health of the patient, the density of the alveolar bone, whether the patient has experienced recession, the thickness of the surrounding gum and bone, etc. We use 3-D x-ray imaging to complete a thorough analysis of the implant site prior to the initial implant placement and to determine which process to utilize. For “staged” implants, after the initial implant placement, I typically allow a period of four months for the implant to integrate and the site to heal. After that time, I perform a surgical procedure called an “uncovering.”
When explaining the implant process to patients, a frequent question I receive is, “what is an uncovering and why do I need it?” A surgical uncovering is a crucial step in the implant healing and restoration process, as it permits me to ensure the full integration of the implant, to give your general dentist access to the area to take an impression for your crown, and, ultimately, to allow your dentist to place your crown on top of the implant to replace the missing tooth.
During the procedure itself, after I have inserted the implant I re-cover the area with the skin to allow the gums to heal. When the patient comes in for her uncovering after a few months have elapsed, I first anesthetize the site. I then surgically elevate the gum tissue that covers the implant by making a precise incision to expose the platform or top of the implant. This tissue elevation allows the dentist to shortly thereafter make an impression for the crown. This step also allows me examine the implant and make sure it has properly integrated.
I then seat a “healing abutment” into the implant. This abutment acts like a cap or shield over the implant, preventing infection from invading the site and preventing gum tissue from growing back over the implant. Later, your general dentist or prosthodontist can take the healing abutment off to make an impression for a crown. We also purchase and ship an “impression post” and “implant analog” to your dentist as a part of the uncovering process, they will use the two items to fabricate the final restoration.
An imperative part of the dental implant timeline, the uncovering requires precise surgical technique to prepare the healed site for eventual crown placement. Once I have successfully elevated the healed tissue and examined the implant site, placed the healing abutment, and ordered and shipped your impression post with the implant analog, the uncovering process is complete and you are ready for your general dentist or prosthodontist to place your new crown.
As always, please visit us at northraleighperio.com or contact us at 919-518-8222 with questions or to see if you’re a candidate for dental implants.
For more information on this topic, listen to the Gum Guru Podcast by clicking the link below:
Is Replacing All Your Teeth with Implants Really a ‘Clear Choice’?