How Long Do Dental Implants Take?
The process of getting dental implants is one that requires multiple visits and stages to complete. Although every individual may have a slightly different experience based on their unique dental needs and circumstances, for most people the dental implant will include the following:
- Initial Evaluation: your dentist or periodontist will perform a thorough examination of your gums and teeth to determine the underlying cause of the loss of your tooth (provided the tooth was not knocked out due to physical trauma). Once the underlying cause is determined, diagnostic exams are taken to develop a treatment plan. This initial evaluation can typically be completed in under one hour.
- Bone Graft/Sinus Lift: If the initial examination reveals that you do not have an adequate amount of jawbone to support an implant, it may be necessary to schedule an appointment for a bone graft or sinus lift to restore your jawbone. Placing the bone graft typically takes between 45-90 minutes, but it may take 3-6 months for the graft to completely heal.
- Implant Placement: If you are a viable candidate for dental implants, your procedure will begin with administration of an anesthetic and/or sedation to limit or eliminate discomfort. Next, a titanium post is placed in your jawbone and a temporary tooth is attached. This will conclude the first part of the dental implant process. Placing one implant can be completed in under 30 minutes, but if multiple implants are being placed, the procedure may take up to three or four hours. Once the implant(s) is placed, it will take approximately 2-6 months for the titanium post to fuse with your jawbone.
- Abutment Placement: Once the post has fully integrated with your jawbone, your dentist or periodontist will attach the abutment by reopening your gums to attach the abutment to the implant, after which the gum tissue is closed and allowed to heal, which usually takes one to two weeks. In certain cases, the abutment and crown are placed at the same time.
- Crown Placement/Final Evaluation: Once your gums are fully healed, the crown is attached to the abutment. Finally, your dentist or periodontist will examine the new tooth and ensure that it looks natural and your occlusion is correct. Once they are satisfied with the look and placement, the dental implant process will be complete!
Given the numerous steps involved, from your initial examination to the final fitting of your abutment and crown, the dental implant process may take anywhere from 3-9 months. The length of time will ultimately depend on the severity of your case, whether a bone graft or sinus lift is necessary, and your body’s natural ability to heal.
How to Facilitate the Healing Process
Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to speed the osseointegration process up, but you can facilitate the healing process and avoid complications by practicing good oral hygiene habits during this waiting period. Once the dental implant process is complete, it is important to continue taking good care of your teeth to avoid needing similar procedures in the future. Be sure to brush and floss your teeth twice daily, eat a healthy diet, and schedule regular checkups at least every six months.