Dental Implant Procedure: What You Need to Know
What are the steps for a dental implant? Learn about getting dental implants and how to prepare for dental implant surgery and aftercare tips here.
How Long Does a Dental Implant Procedure Take?
If you have lost one or more of your permanent teeth, either due to an injury, tooth decay, gum disease, or an infection, your dentist may have suggested that you have dental implants.
Dental implants are a very common option for replacing missing teeth as they offer long-lasting, visually appealing results. In terms of how long does the dental implant process take, from start to finish, you are looking at anywhere between 3-15 months, depending on the type of implant procedure needed, the number of implants being placed, their location in the mouth, and whether bone grafting is required.
That being said, the actual dental implant surgery usually only takes between 1-2 hours per implant.
What are the Steps for a Dental Implant?
When treatment planning for a dental implant, each specific case will be different. However, there are four key stages that every dental implant patient will experience.
- The initial consultation with an oral surgeon
- The surgery itself
- The healing process
- The fitting of the crown
Let’s now take a closer look at each stage of what are the steps for a dental implant below:
During your initial consultation, you will be able to talk to your dentist about any concerns you have about getting dental implants, as well as any other aspects of your overall oral health which may require other dental services.
Once it has been decided that dental implants are the right choice for you, your dentist will talk you through all aspects of the procedure, including the cost, the surgery, and aftercare. Your dentist may also carry out a CT scan at this time so that they can access what type of dental implant best suits your needs, your lifestyle, and the results that you want to achieve.
Then, using highly advanced dental technology, your dentist will create a custom mold of teeth so that your crown matches the exact shape and size of your natural teeth.
There are several different surgical procedures that you may need to undertake when having dental implants placed. If your damaged tooth is still present, this will need to be removed first. You may also require a bone graft to strengthen your jaw, although you will have already been advised about this after your scan.
Once it has been established that your jaw is strong enough to go ahead, the titanium post will be surgically embedded. Although you will be awake for this procedure, your dentist will give you a local anesthetic so you will not feel any pain or discomfort.
As mentioned above, the surgery to implant one titanium implant typically takes between 1-2 hours, so the more you need, the longer the overall procedure will take.
You will not have your dental crown fitted at the same time as you have the implant post embedded, as you need to go through a process called osseointegration first. This is where the jawbone fuses with the titanium root. Although the timescale for this is different with every patient, it usually takes around 6-12 weeks per single tooth implant for the healing process to be completed and for your jawbone to be strong enough to provide a solid base for an artificial tooth.
Although this may seem like a long time, it is crucial for the long term health of your teeth and gums and for the success of the implant.
If you are worried about being left with a gap in your smile while you wait for this process, your dental implant specialist should be able to offer a temporary solution to replace your missing tooth.
During osseointegration, you need to make sure that you practice excellent hygiene and look after your temporary replacement tooth to avoid getting an infection.
Fitting the crown
In the final stage of the entire dental implant procedure, once your dentist is satisfied that your gums have healed properly, your new tooth can now be both created and fitted. As detailed during the consultation process, your dentist will have created a custom mold of your mouth so that your artificial tooth will perfectly match the shape, size, and color of your natural teeth for the best results.
This bespoke crown will then be fitted seamlessly into the gap left by your missing tooth, creating a beautiful smile that you will only be too happy to share.
How to Look After Dental Implants
It is worth knowing that dental implants are slightly more susceptible to infections than your natural teeth, so you need to make sure that you clean them properly.
When it comes to cleaning and maintaining a dental implant, the process is a bit different to your other teeth. If you are tempted to skip this vital stage in your recovery, you should know that proper maintenance will save you money, time and prevent further oral health problems.
Below are the steps that you should undertake to protect your dental implant and keep it in optimal condition:
- Floss daily and diligently around the implanted area.
- Take more time to brush your implanted tooth but do not brush more rigorously, as this can damage it.
- Do not smoke, as this makes you more prone to gum disease.
- See your dentist immediately if you experience any gum issues.
- Avoid eating any foods that are overly hard, chewy, or crunchy.
- Wear a mouth guard if you are going to be playing sports.
- Invest in a nightguard if you suffer from bruxism, the process of grinding your teeth while you are sleeping.
Still worried about the prospect of getting a dental implant? We are more than happy to talk you through any concerns or questions you may have – contact us here to speak to one of our friendly and experienced dentists who will do their best to put your mind at ease. There’s no need to feel any concern before your procedure by being prepared.