Are there multiple steps in the implant process?

There are three steps in the dental implant process. All the steps are an important part of a process that leads to a successful implantation that might last your lifetime.

  • Surgical placement of the implant is usually the first step. The post is placed and the gums are closed over the top. A crown will not be put on until the post becomes secure in the bone over the course of three to six months of healing. If there is not enough bone in the jaw, a bone graft will need to be surgically placed before this step. So in people who need bone grafts, there are really four steps.
  • The implant is then uncovered and an extension post is placed on it that the crown will eventually be placed upon. More time is needed for the gums around this post to heal.
  • The last step is the crown that is placed after the gums around the implant post have healed.

There are generally three phases to getting a dental 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.)

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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.