Timeline of Dental Implants

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When someone asks you, “What’s the first thing that you notice about another person?” If “Their smile” isn’t your first answer, then it’s probably your second or third. We are naturally drawn to look at people’s teeth. When others are talking, laughing, eating, or smiling, we notice their teeth. It is for this reason, that when our smile isn’t what we want it to be, we can be shy, embarrassed, or not as confident as we once were. If you’re interested in getting a dental implant so that you can have a smile you’re proud of, here is a timeline of how long long the process will take.

Your Initial Exam at Castle Rock Dental

Before your initial exam, it is important that you fill out a health history form so that our doctor can know if there are any medical conditions that may be affecting your oral health. Bring this form to your appointment.

If you have had x-rays taken of your whole mouth within the last 12 months by a different provider, have them sent to our office in advance so the doctor can have time to fully evaluate them. If you do not have current x-rays, plan on taking them at your appointment. Occasionally, even with recent x-rays taken, we’ll still have to take our own but you’ll be notified before hand. X-rays need to be current and clear because they are essential for properly diagnosing your condition and for forming a treatment plan.

Once your x-rays have been evaluated, you will then receive a complete intraoral evaluation. This will include measuring the teeth, tissue, bone and bite. After reviewing your medical history, evaluating your current mouth x-rays and receiving an intraoral evaluation, our doctor will discuss the condition of your oral health and possible options for treatment.

It’s Possible You’ll Need A Bone Graft

After doing an initial exam, we will know the state and capacity of your (jaw) bones. If your jawbone is too soft, or isn’t thick enough – this tends to be a problem associated with age – you will probably need a bone graft before you can have dental implant surgery. A bone graft is necessary because the amount of force used to chew exerts a great deal of pressure on your jawbone, and if that bone isn’t strong enough to sustain the implant, it will likely fail. This is a financial risk we want to avoid.

Bone is grafted from either your own bone, taken from another part of your body or processed bone obtained from a cadaver – this is the more common route for grafting in a dental office. The processed bone is made into a fine powder and packed into a predrilled hole in your jawbone. It will take approximately 4-7 months for the transplanted bone or the artificial bone to fuse to your jawbone and grow strong enough to be able to support your dental implant.

Bone grafting is not always necessary and sometimes only a small bone graft is required that may be done along with the implant surgery. Bone grafts are completely dependent on the condition and strength of your jawbone.

Placing Dental Implant Post

A dental implant post is placed by revealing the bone, drilling a hole, then placing the abutment. This post will be implanted deep in your jawbone because it will act as the root of your new tooth.

Once the post has been planted, you will still have a gap in your smile. However, a temporary, removable tooth can be placed on the post for appearance.

Waiting for Bone Growth

After the metal post is implanted into your gums, a process called osseointegration begins. Osseointegration is defined as “the firm anchoring of a surgical implant (as in dentistry or in bone surgery) by the growth of bone around it without fibrous tissue formation at the interface”. Osseointegration is essential for ensuring that the post is securely adhered to your jawbone and can take anywhere from two to six months.

Placing the Abutment

After the osseointegration process has been completed, the abutment will be placed. The abutment is a connector, placed on, or built into, the top of the dental implant, to connect the implant to the replacement tooth or teeth. Although this can be done at the same time as the dental implant surgery, some people understandably, don’t want to deal with it’s appearance for the months it will take for osseointegration to take place. Instead they wait until the implant post has been accepted and then get a separate procedure for the abutment.

Placing the abutment is a minor procedure that can be accomplished with local anesthesia. We simply reopen the gum to reveal the dental implant, attach the abutment and then allow the gum tissue to close around, not over, the abutment. Your gums will heal from this surgery in about one to two weeks.

Placing Your Artificial Teeth

After your gums have healed from the abutment procedure, we will take impressions of your teeth. These impressions will be used to make your artificial tooth, also known as a crown. Once your custom-made restoration is completed, it can be attached and your dental implant treatment will be completed. There are two options for your artificial tooth:

  • Fixed– With this choice your artificial tooth will be cemented or screwed onto the abutment of your implant permanently. This means you can’t take out the tooth for cleaning or while you sleep, it essentially acts as a regular tooth. If you have more than one tooth that needs to be replaced, because implants are so strong, sometimes you can use one implant to replace several teeth.
  • Removable- This choice is comparable to the function of a regular denture. It has an artificial tooth that is surrounded by a pink plastic gum. This tooth is mounted onto a metal frame that is then attached to the abutment. This artificial tooth can be snapped into place and then easily removed for cleaning or repair.

Timeline Recap

  • Initial Exam– X-rays and treatment plan determined.
  • Bone Grafting (if necessary)- Healing Time of approximately 4-7 months
  • Dental Implant Surgery– Takes about 2-6 months for osseointegration to take place.
  • Placing the Abutment– Heals in 1-2 weeks
  • Placing the Artificial Teeth– can be done as soon as the gums heal from the abutment procedure.

While the process of getting your dental implant placed is undoubtedly involved, the end result of your perfect smile will be well worth the time and effort.

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