How Long Do Dental Implants Take?
In some cases, patients can have artificial teeth attached to dental implants in Belvidere il in a single procedure called immediate implants, but these aren’t an option for everyone. In order to determine what type of implants are best for each patient and estimate a timeline for a dental implant procedure, following the initial consultation, the dental implant team thoroughly examines the oral cavity of the patient. This examination includes x-rays of the jaw to assess which areas are appropriate for implants and may also include three-dimensional imaging to assist with precise treatment planning. If the bone in the jaw is determined to be too unstable or of insufficient quantity to support dental implants, a bone graft procedure may be required to rebuild the bone; if bone graft surgery is needed, the bone must be fully healed before implants can be placed. When the jaw is ready, implant surgery begins.
Dental implant surgery usually takes one or two hours per implant. Because the health of the bone that supports the implant is of the utmost importance, the bone is given time to heal after the implant post is placed. Most implant dentists will fit patients with a temporary crown at the time of implant placement. While the bone surrounding the implant heals, it fuses to the implant post and creates a long-lasting bond. This process is called osseointegration, and it is essential to the success of the dental implant. Osseointegration happens because the material used for dental implant posts – titanium or zirconia – is osteophilic, which means that bone is attracted to it. It is also highly biocompatible and is therefore likely to be accepted by the body over the long term. The timeline for osseointegration differs depending on the overall health of the patient and their general ability to heal, and the timeline is also affected by the number of implants placed. Some patients heal sufficiently in as little as four to six weeks, while others can take as long as five or six months.
Once the bone has fully healed, the implant surgeon will perform a second surgical procedure, pulling back the gum tissue that covers the implant and fitting an attachment fixture called an abutment to the top of the implant. The abutment connects the implant and the dental crown, or artificial tooth, and protects the implant post from the forces of chewing and biting. The gum tissue is given a little time to heal around the abutment, and then, the permanent crown is attached to the abutment. In some cases, the crown can be attached at the same procedure as the abutment, and in some cases, the crown is fitted a few weeks later.
The overall timeline for the dental implant procedure from initial consultation to completion can run anywhere from three months to a year, but this doesn’t factor in additional procedures. If gum disease is present, it will be treated before dental implants can be placed, and, when bone grafts are necessary, they are given time to heal. These auxiliary procedures usually add a month or two, at the least, to a complete dental implant treatment. Once dental implants are placed, they are maintained just like natural teeth, with twice-daily brushing and daily flossing along with regular dental checkups and professional cleanings. With effective care and maintenance, dental implants can provide a lifetime of comfortable, attractive smiles.