A dental implant is a permanent tooth restoration that could last for your entire life. Unlike dentures, which could slide around in your mouth, dental implants are placed directly in your jaw. This allows an implant to look and function much like the natural tooth it replaces. If you’re considering dental implants, here is some more information on what you can expect from the entire process.
Your dentist will evaluate your mouth to see if you’re a good candidate for a dental implant. Not all patients are strong candidates for dental implants. You need a certain degree of healthy bone material to place a dental implant. If you don’t have enough bone material, your dentist could recommend a smaller mini dental implant or bone grafting to improve the jawbone at the procedure site.
If you have many missing teeth, a traditional dental implant may not be the only option you have. In addition to implants restorations there are many other procedures that your dentist may recommend, including implant-supported dentures.
To improve the amount of healthy bone at the implant site, your dentist may recommend a bone graft. In most cases a graft is placed at the time the tooth that is to be replaced has been extracted, this is done to preserve the site for the coming implant. At times, this is required after a tooth has been missing for an extended period of time and some bone loss has occurred. There are different types of bone graft materials that can be placed and this will be discussed with you prior to your procedure. After placement, the bone graft will need time to heal before the implant is placed.
Dental Implant and Temporary Crown
Next, your dentist will place the dental implant and possibly a temporary crown. The procedure takes around an hour or so to complete for a single implant. Over the counter pain relievers are usually enough to manage any discomfort that you may experience during the first few days after the procedure.
Waiting and Healing
Before permanent crowns can be placed, your mouth needs time to heal. For many patients, this period lasts for several months. However, it is possible that it could take six months or longer for your jaw to heal enough to finish the dental implant procedure. Your dental provider will assess your progress to make a determination about when to schedule the final appointment.
Abutment and Crown
During the last appointment, your dentist will remove your temporary crown, attach an abutment to the dental implant, and place a permanent crown. When this is completed, you’re finished with the procedure. Your dentist might give you additional instructions on how to best care for your new dental implant.