So, you’ve decided that a dental implant is the best way to care for your missing or damaged tooth. Implants are one of the most advanced options available in dentistry today. Although the process usually takes at least six months from start to finish, it is well worth the time and investment.
What can you expect during the process? How long will each stage last? Get the answers to all your questions below.
Steps of the Dental Implant Process
Remember, these steps may be modified slightly based on your unique situation. Talk to your dentist to learn more. While placing one or a few dental implants can often take five to eight months, it can often be a shorter process if you need a whole new set of teeth.
1. Tooth Extraction
To place a dental implant, your dentist first needs to make space for it. To do this, your dentist will remove the remainder of your broken or cracked tooth.
2. Bone Graft (if Necessary)
To have dental implants, you need to have healthy gums and adequate bone to support the implant. If you are interested in getting implants placed and there is insufficient bone support, it doesn't mean you're not a candidate, but your dentist may recommend having a routine bone graft procedure.
Bone grafting helps you to generate bone in that region so an implant can be placed. A thorough evaluation will help determine whether you are a good candidate for a dental implant. Sometimes, lack of bone structure may make dental bridges or dentures a better choice than implants. Ask your dentist what’s right for you.
3. Dental Implant Post Placement
If no bone grafting is needed, your dentist will place your new implant post as soon as they’re done removing your damaged tooth. If you need a bone graft, you will need to wait a few months for the bone to integrate and heal before your dentist places the implant post.
After your implant post is placed, your jaw will need to heal for several months before the abutment and final crown are added.
4. Abutment Placement
The abutment screws into the crown and is the supporting structure that the crown will attach to.
Expect to wait a few weeks after the abutment is placed for the crown to be placed.
5. Crown Placement
This is the final stage in the process. With your new crown in place, smile wide! Your dental implant will look and function just like a real tooth.
Taking Care of Yourself During the Implant Process
Dental implants are a long-term investment in your smile. Since they take some time to complete, you’ll want to follow these health and comfort guidelines during and after your surgery.
The First Two Weeks after Implants
For the first two weeks after surgery, you’ll want to stick to softer foods. Don’t worry, though, this doesn’t mean you’ll need to restrict yourself to a diet of ice cream (although if you want, this is a great time to treat yourself). There are many softer foods readily available. Remember, even if you don’t feel like eating, it’s important to get your nutrition during this time and speed healing.
In the long-term, your implants won’t require much special care. You can plan to return to normal eating habits, and won’t need to practice any different oral hygiene.
Of course, remember that taking good care of your teeth and implants by regular brushing and flossing is the best way to ensure they last a long time.
And even though your implants are durable, they’re not unbreakable. Just as you would with regular teeth, avoid chewing ice, cracking nuts, and opening packages with your new implants.
Are Dental Implants Right for You?
Dental implants are a great option if you need a tooth replaced.
They’re indistinguishable from real teeth, can last a lifetime, and promote tooth and mouth health.
Wondering if dental implants are right for you? Check out our Complete Guide to Dental Implants.