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There are generally three phases to getting an implant:
- First, the dentist surgically places the implant into the jawbone. Your dentist may recommend a diet of soft foods, cold foods and warm soup during the healing process.
- Next, the bone around the implant heals in a process called 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. If you are replacing more than a single tooth, custom-made bridges or dentures will be made to fit your mouth and your implants. (Note: The replacement teeth usually take 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.)
If you are interested in dental implants, it's a good idea to discuss it carefully with your dentist first.
There are two basic methods of placing dental implants after tooth extraction.
The first is immediate placement at the time of extraction. This technique can only be used in certain cases where there is enough bone present to stabilize the dental implant and the hole from the extraction site is not too large. The advantage of this technique is that it saves the patient time and reduces the number of surgeries needed. The disadvantage is that there is an increased failure rate with this technique.
The second method is to extract the tooth, place a bone graft in the extraction site and allow it to heal for about three months. After the minimum of three months healing for the bone the implant can usually be placed. This technique has a much more predictable success rate.
Using either technique a hole, or osteotomy, must be made in the bone to the exact size of the implant. The implant is then inserted into the hole. A screw cap, or abutment, is then placed on the implant. The gum tissue is then closed around, or over the implant depending on the circumstances of each case.
Implants are placed in the jaws by making precise holes in the bone so that they fit snuggly. This is done where teeth are missing and where there is adequate bone to hold the implants. Sometimes, it is possible to place implants on the same day as teeth are extracted but usually, it takes three to six months of healing before you are ready for implant placement. Waiting for a very long time after dental extractions may result in loss of bone, making implant placement more difficult. Once placed, the implants themselves generally require several months of healing in the bone before caps, bridges or dentures can use them for support. Your dentist and surgical specialist should collaborate and develop a plan designed to produce the best possible outcome in a reasonable period of time.
Dental implants require to place an anchor in your mouth. It may take up to six months before the bones grows around and attach to this anchor. Once it does, teeth are made and fitted to the anchor. The fitting process may require several months before a proper fit is completed.
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.