Dental implants are one of the most popular ways to replace missing teeth. They are strong, durable, and look just like your natural teeth. But how long do dental implants take?
The entire process can take several weeks to months from start to finish, but it is worth noting that they are a very low-maintenance option and with proper care and good oral hygiene, they can last for decades or even a lifetime.
The amount of time depends on a few factors, such as:
- The condition of the patient’s gums and jawbone
- The number of implants being placed: If you are getting a single implant, the overall process may be quicker than if you are replacing several teeth.
- The type of tooth being replaced (front teeth vs. molars)
- The type of implant you choose: The two most common types of dental implants are endosteal and subperiosteal. Endosteal implants are placed directly into your jaw bone, while subperiosteal implants are placed on top of your jaw bone.
- The overall health of the patient: If the patient is in good general health, their recovery period may be faster than if preexisting medical conditions are present. Those with oral health issues like periodontal disease or gum disease may have to have additional procedures done. It’s important to discuss your medical history with your dentist.
The dental implants procedure
If you’re considering dental implants, it’s important to understand the whole process. Here’s a look at the four stages of dental implants, from start to finish:
1. Consultation, evaluation, and preparation
The first appointment is an initial consultation with an implant dentist to determine if the patient is a good candidate for this procedure. The dentist will take X-rays and a 3D CT scan to evaluate the patient’s teeth and gums. This is to ensure that they have enough bone to support an implant.
A custom treatment plan will be created for the patient, and if any treatments are required prior to the implant procedure, those will take precedence. For instance, patients who have experienced bone loss in their jaw may need to undergo a bone graft procedure before they can receive dental implants.
2. Artificial tooth root placement
The next step is to have the existing tooth (or teeth) extracted and the titanium posts placed. This procedure is typically done under local anesthesia and generally during the same visit. The tooth root implant is placed right after the extraction.
Once in place, the osseointegration process begins, meaning that the metal post will need to fuse to the jaw bone. The healing process and recovery time varies on a patient-to-patient basis but can take several weeks to months.
3. Placement of the abutment
Once the fusion is complete, you will return to your dentist to have the abutment placed. The abutment is a small connector piece that helps to secure the implant. At this time, impressions of your mouth will be taken so that your new tooth can be customized to fit properly over the abutment and blend in with your other teeth.
Meanwhile, you’ll be given a temporary crown while you wait for the new tooth to be made. The waiting period is usually 4 to 6 weeks.
4. Placing of the crown
Finally, the temporary crown is removed and replaced with your permanent crown.
At the end of this process, you will be rewarded with a beautiful, natural-looking smile that you can be proud of for years to come. You will need to go to your dentist’s office periodically for routine checkups and cleanings.
Frequently asked questions:
How many teeth can one implant support?
An implant can generally support more than one tooth when used in combination with another implant, but the exact number will depend on a patient’s individual case. There are a few factors to consider, for instance:
- The type of dental restoration that is needed. A single tooth implant can typically support a dental crown. However, if multiple teeth are being replaced with implants, then the implants will need to be able to support a dental bridge or denture. In this case, the dentist may recommend an implant-supported denture, where a bridge is created by two or more retainer crowns that support a pontic crown. The retainer crowns are attached to the jaw by an implant and the pontic crown is attached to the retainer crown but has no root.
- The location of the implant. Implants that are located in the mandibular arch (bottom teeth) are typically able to support more teeth than those in the maxillary arch (top teeth). This is because the mandibular region has the greatest bone density, making it easier for the implants to remain well-anchored.
- The health of the jaw bone. If the jaw bone is healthy and strong, then the implant may be better grounded to support more teeth.
- The size of the implant. Due to the anatomy of the mouth and jaw, longer implants are usually placed in the anterior sections of the mouth (that is, the front teeth which include the central incisors, lateral incisors, and canines) and shorter implants are placed in the posterior section (that is, the back teeth which include the premolars and molars).
How many dental implants can you have at once?
The number of implants that can be placed in at once varies from person to person. It depends on the same factors we discussed above, such as the amount of bone available, the location of the implants, and the patient’s overall health.
In general, most patients can have up to four implants placed at one time.
Is it painful to have dental implants installed?
No, the tooth extraction and dental implant placement are not painful. The procedure is typically performed under local anesthesia, so if anything, you may feel some pressure or minor discomfort.
After the procedure, you may experience soreness and swelling of the gums, but this can be easily managed with over-the-counter pain medication. Stronger pain medications may be prescribed, if necessary.
If you have any questions about the pain associated with dental implants, be sure to discuss them with the oral surgeon beforehand. They will be able to address your concerns and help put your mind at ease.
Can you eat after the dental implant procedure?
Yes, you can eat after the dental implant procedure. However, it is important to stick to liquids and soft foods for the first few days after the procedure. This will reduce additional pressure on your mouth and allow it time to heal faster.
After the first week, you can slowly start to add more solid foods back into your diet. In this article, you can find a list of the foods we recommend eating and avoiding.
If you have any persistent pain or discomfort, be sure to contact your dentist. They can give you specific instructions on how to manage it and ensure that your mouth heals properly.
Dental implants are the best permanent solution for replacing a missing tooth. Not only do they give people the most natural look and feel, but they’re the superior option over dentures. They’re beneficial for maintaining healthy gums and preventing bone resorption in the jaw, and with proper care will last a very long time.
Kootenai Dental Group welcomes patients in Coeur D’Alene, ID and the surrounding communities. Our dental specialists are ready to answer any questions you may have about implants and other treatment options. Give us a call today at 208-762-8750 to schedule your consultation!