There are generally three phases to getting an implant:
- First, the dentist surgically places the implant into the jawbone. There may be some swelling and/or tenderness after the surgery, so pain medication is usually prescribed. Your dentist may recommend a diet of soft foods, cold foods and warm soup during the healing process.
- Next comes osseointegration. What makes an implant so strong is that the bone actually grows around it and holds it in place. Osseointegration means “combines with the bone” and takes time. Some patients might need to wait until the implant is completely integrated, up to several months, before replacement teeth can be attached to the implant. Other patients can have the implants and replacement teeth placed all in one visit.
- Finally, it’s time for the placement of the artificial tooth/teeth. For a single tooth implant, your dentist will customize a new tooth for you, called a dental crown. The crown will be based on size, shape, color and fit and will be designed to blend in with your other teeth. Implant-supported bridges or dentures are also made to fit your mouth and your implants. Once completed, the man-made teeth are attached to the implant posts. (Note: The prosthesis usually takes some time to make. In the meantime, your dentist may give you a temporary crown, bridge or denture to help you eat and speak normally until the permanent replacement is ready.)