Let’s start out with the obvious: what are dental implants? Simply put, they are metal posts (or frames) inserted into your jawbone surgically. The procedure is done so that replacement teeth can be inserted. These implants fuse with your jawbone and make a great foundation for artificial teeth. This might not seem important until you are eating something and an artificial tooth falls out.
Unfortunately, not everyone can receive dental implants. People with unhealthy gums or inadequate bone support would not be suitable candidates for implants. If oral hygiene is important generally, then it is doubly so when dental implants are in the mix. As the most effective option for an artificial tooth, dental implants are preferable to dentures or bridges because of how structurally sound they are. However, realize that you are committing yourself to a long procedure.
So how long does it take?
On average, it can take as long as eights month to complete a dental implant procedure. This timeframe is based on a variety of factors, such as if you require a bone graft or are selecting between mini and traditional dental implants.
So how do I know if I need a bone graft?
A dental implant procedure requires that your jawbone is dense enough to support the implant itself. If you lack the bone density, then a bone graft is necessary to make the area strong enough to support the implant. There are a variety of reasons why you would lack the necessary density, including:
* Advanced stages of gum disease
* Waiting too long to replace a missing tooth
The bone graft procedure itself utilizes existing bone material or processed bone to rebuild the bone structure in your jawbone. Since the graft is done at the future site of your dental implant, you need to allow the area to heal in order to integrate with your jawbone and become strong enough to support the implant. This healing process can take up to four months.
Is there anything else I need to think about?
There are other preparatory treatments beyond a bone graft. For instance, if you have a periodontal disease, then your dentist will need to treat it and improve gum health prior to performing the procedure. Again, this treatment, much like bone grafts, can delay the dental implant process by a number of months depending on how serious your periodontal disease is.
Placement and Osseointegration
Once your jawbone density and gum health is determined to be suitable for a dental implant procedure, then the process begins. The first phase of the process is surgically inserting the dental implant into your jawbone, which can take about an hour for a single
implant. Obviously, if you are receiving multiple implants, then you should anticipate the procedure taking longer.
Once in place, the dental implant requires a healing period; this process can take up to six months. This process involves the jawbone healing around the dental implant. It is called osseointegration, and it is necessary to make sure that the implant works like a normal tooth root.
The Abutment and Prosthetic Tooth
The final stages of your dental implant procedure start once osseointegration is complete. An abutment (a titanium rod) is attached on your implant in order to later attach your new prosthetic tooth. Once more, you need to allow your gums to heal following the insertion of the abutment; this time, you can expect a healing period of a few weeks. While you wait, a crown is created in order to be placed on the abutment and prosthetic tooth once it is healed. Once you are healed and the crown is placed, you’ll be the proud owner of a fully functional replacement tooth.
It’s worth it
Long story short, the process can take a bit of time. If you have healthy gums and a strong jawbone, then it could take as little as six months; if you end up requiring preparatory surgeries to make your jawbone ready for an implant, then you can reasonably expect it to be as much as eight months. Even though that feels like a long time, it is worth it: a functional tooth means a better quality of life moving forward, as well as improved oral health.