Losing a tooth can be traumatic in two ways: the way in which it was lost may have been painful or scary for you, and then knowing it’s gone and living with the impacts every day can cause further suffering. You might not be able to eat the foods you enjoy, your other teeth might shift to fill the space causing additional gaps, or you might not smile like you used to if you do not feel confident in your smile.
Missing permanent teeth can be replaced, restoring both appearance and function. Dental implant surgery replaces a missing tooth with a metal post, an attachment piece called an abutment, and an artificial tooth that looks and works much like your natural teeth. Wondering how long it takes to fix your smile? Continue reading to understand the procedure better and determine whether it might be the right path for you.
The length of the dental implant procedure with healing time ranges from 3-12 months. If you have already had the extraction and still have ample room for the implant, you can expect the entire process to take 3-6 months. If you need to start with the tooth extraction, then your surgeon may allow time for healing after the extraction before implant placement, extending the average length of time to 3-9 months from start to finish.
In some cases, a bone graft is needed (explained in detail below). A bone graft can increase treatment time by 3-4 months, which can bring your total time to 6-10 months without an extraction or 6-13 months with an extraction.
Sometimes, patients benefit from a short orthodontic treatment before the implant process can begin. If the tooth has been missing for quite some time, it’s common for surrounding teeth to shift. This can limit the amount of space available between the roots of those two teeth for implant placement. Orthodontics can be helpful with the goal of making room for the implant and can typically be done in a few months.
Rushing the dental implant process can increase the chance of failure, so it is important to follow your surgeon’s recommendations for timing. A little patience during this process can leave you with a permanent, beautiful, functional replacement for your tooth.
If you have developed a loose, broken, or decaying tooth, your dentist will do everything they can to save the tooth. In many cases, even a tooth in pretty rough shape can be saved using dental interventions like fillings, root canals, and crowns. However, there are some cases when the tooth cannot be saved and must be extracted. This can happen when:
Before you can move forward with a dental implant for one missing tooth, your dentist will perform a complete examination to make sure your oral health supports a successful implant. He or she may recommend other treatments at that time.
It’s relatively common to need a bone graft prior to dental implants; in fact, about half of all patients who choose tooth replacement through dental implant placement need one.
Before your implant dentist can place the titanium post, he or she needs to ensure that you have adequate bone to support the implant. To examine, x-rays will be taken of your jawbone and the area where the post will be placed. Sometimes, jawbone is deteriorated or receded because of:
When there is not adequate bone to support the implant, the most common form of grafting is the placement of calcium material taken from donor tissue. Even though it is not actually bone, it stimulates the body’s ability to grow new bone where it is needed. Much less commonly bone grafting is achieved by taking healthy bone from one area of the body and placing it into the needed site. After a healing period of 3 or 4 months, you will be ready for your dental implant surgery.
While patients share some anxiety surrounding bone grafts, they are common and painless under sedation. Most patients say, “That was so much easier than I expected!”
It depends. If you need a bone graft, you will have three surgeries: the bone graft, the placement of the post within your bone, and then a much smaller, easier procedure to affix the abutment (the attachment that extends out of the gums and serves as a foundation for the crown or artificial tooth) to the post. If you don’t need a bone graft, you only need the post placement procedure and the abutment procedure; crown placement is not a surgical procedure and happens right in the dental office.
The placement of the post and the placement of the abutment must be separated by several months to ensure complete healing. Read our blog on how long dental implants last here.
The process requires multiple steps, most of which are completed right in a doctor‘s or dental office and don’t require recovery time.
First, you will meet with your doctor or dentist for an initial consultation. He or she will help you determine the best treatment option (including what type of implant will best serve you) and build a treatment plan based on your x-rays or CT scan. They will also discuss success rate so you know what to expect.
If you need a tooth extracted first, this step comes next. Your consulting surgeon will extract the tooth and often recommend placement of the calcium into the extraction site followed by the time needed to heal.
For most patients who need a bone graft, this step can be completed at the time of extraction.
Once any necessary extraction or bone graft has been completed, the implant post can be placed upon returning to the oral surgeon. This is a surgical procedure in which a surgeon places a titanium implant in your jawbone; this will serve as the foundation for your new tooth. Your dentist can also provide you with options for a temporary tooth in the meantime and, in many cases, put it in place immediately following the procedure.
During osseointegration, the bone and implant (new tooth root) fuse together over a period of 3-6 months. There are no surgeries during this time and the implant remains hidden below your gum line, so you can carry on with normal activity once you’ve healed from the surgery.
Finally, you’ll have the abutment and crown placed. Your dentist or dental assistant will provide education on proper care of your new prosthesis and you’ll be on your way with a brand new smile.
Dental implants are more attractive, natural-looking, and functional than dentures, making them a top tier choice for missing tooth replacement. To take the first step toward restoring your smile and confidence, speak with the team at Virginia Surgical Arts today. You can call (757) 430-7690 or complete the online contact form and we’ll reach out to you!