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What happens after I get dental implants?

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.)

Nothing can take the place of a healthy set of natural teeth. But when disease or an accident ends in tooth loss, it’s good to know that dental implants are one of the most effective ways to replace missing teeth. Dental implants help to preserve the bone after teeth are lost or extracted. With careful treatment planning and good oral care, dental implants can provide a healthy, stable smile for a lifetime.

After the last step of putting a crown on your implant, you should be immediately ready to eat anything and begin smiling as much as you can. But remember that dental implants require maintenance and good oral hygiene to prevent problems and extend the life of your implants... for life. Brushing and flossing are still needed, along with frequently visiting your dentist for cleanings and to make sure your implant is holding up as expected.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.