The process to get dental implants requires many visits to your dentist office and lots of patience. From start to finish, it could take up to a year to have your final dental restorations placed. How long it will take is dependent on many factors like how many implants you need to be placed, the type of restoration you are getting, if you need a bone graft, and if you need other preparatory treatments.
Despite the amount of time it takes, dental implants are still worth the wait since they are the only replacement option that will function like natural teeth. Below is a breakdown of what to expect at each step in the dental implant process.
The Dental Implant Process
- Consultation and Planning: This step is to make sure you qualify for dental implants and to get x-rays or images of your teeth. Here, you and your dentist can discuss your concerns and agree upon a solution. Monroe, NC dentist Dr. Leonard Hess will then develop a personalized treatment plan where every step of your implant process is mapped out. Dr. Hess will coordinate with a local oral surgeon or periodontist who will perform the teeth implant surgery.
- Preparatory Treatments: During your consultation, Dr. Hess may discover issues that will need to be addressed before you can undergo the surgical implantation. The purpose here is to create an environment that is healthy so that your implants can properly heal. This could include a bone graft for patients who do not have enough bone structure, gum disease treatment, or tooth extractions.
- After these procedures, you will need time to heal. This is what typically extends the amount of time the whole dental implant process will take. If you do not need any of this done, you can move straight to the surgical implantation and expect the whole process to take about six to eight months.
- Surgical Implantation: At this appointment, you will have your dental implants surgically placed into your jawbone by a local Monroe, NC oral surgeon or periodontist. Most people will only need local anesthesia for the surgery. It typically takes about an hour to place a single implant. If you are getting multiple implants, it will take longer depending on how many implants are being placed.
- Osseointegration: After your surgery, you will need adequate healing time. This is usually about three to six months. During this time, the implants will fuse with the surrounding jaw bone creating a strong foundation for your new teeth. The process where the bone fuses with the jawbone is known as osseointegration. Depending on the location of your missing teeth, a temporary dental restoration may be placed.
- Abutment Attachment: A small connector piece called an abutment will be connected to the implant when you have healed from surgery and your implant has fused with the bone. You will need to let your gums heal after the abutment placement. In some instances, it can be placed at the same time as your implant surgery.
- Dental Restoration Fabrication: The next step is to get impressions of your teeth so that your new dental restoration can be fabricated. Typically, while your abutment is healing, your new teeth are being made in a dental laboratory. It should only take about two to three weeks for your gums to heal and your new teeth to be created.
- Placement of New Teeth: During this appointment at our Monroe, NC dentist office, Dr. Hess will attach your new restoration. If you had only one missing tooth, he will attach the dental crown to the single implant. If you had several consecutive missing teeth, he will place the dental bridge to the two or more implants. If you were missing most or all of your teeth, he will place your new implant denture.