The Dental Implant Procedure

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Dental implant procedures are some of the most complicated types of cosmetic dental surgery. It’s usually a multi-stage process that can take as long as nine months, start to finish. Here’s how it’s done.

  • Your first meeting with your oral surgeon will determine how many implants you need (it might be a single implant for a single tooth, or you could have an entire lower or upper set placed all in four implants) as well as the best sites for implantation. The procedure will be mapped out and scheduled as soon as possible, depending on the surgeon’s workload.
  • If the ideal sites for implantation are surrounded by thin bone (or soft bone), then your first procedure may be a bone graft. Sections of bone are taken from either your own body (usually a from a hip), a donor’s body (living or dead), or a cow, and attached to the implantation site. Over a period of several weeks, the grafts integrate with your jawbone, strengthening it enough to withstand the forces generated by your jaw when you chew.
  • Once the bone is strong enough, your surgeon will open the gum above the site, drill out the bone, place the implant, and suture the gum shut. After this procedure, the jawbone must be allowed enough time to heal around the implant, securing it in place. This can take six to 12 weeks.
  • In your next visit, the surgeon reopens the gum and attaches the abutment, the section that will eventually attach to the false crown. The gum is positioned around the abutment but not closed, and you are once again sent home to heal, this time allowing the gum to shape itself around the abutment. This healing can take one to two weeks.
  • During your next visit, after everything is deemed to be healing as planned, measurements and impressions are taken for your crowns. The information is sent to the lab, and your new teeth are sent in a few days to a couple weeks, depending on the workload of the lab.
  • Finally, your new crown or crowns are place in your mouth, either permanently or via a “snap-on” attachment, depending on the style of abutment you chose.

Whether you have a single implant or a full-mouth, all in four implants procedure, be patient with the process. Successful healing means far less chance of implant failure — and implant failure means you’ll have to do the whole thing over again. More research here.

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