Overview of Implant Placement

Dental Implant Surgery

Placing a dental implant takes approximately 30 to 60 minutes per implant. If you are having multiple implants placed, the procedure should be limited to 2-3 hours. Each case is different, and your number of appointments and surgery time will be determined by the condition of your teeth and jaw.

At your consultation, we will discuss anesthetic options. We use a local anesthetic to numb the implant area, and some patients also elect for nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or intravenous sedation. We may also prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection of the implant area.

During the procedure, we first ensure your comfort, applying any anesthetics you have requested. Then the surgeon makes an incision in your gum tissue, revealing the jaw bone, sculpts a space for the titanium implant, and gently inserts the implant. Depending on your case, the implant may or may not be visible through the gums. Sometimes, your surgeon will leave a layer of gum tissue over the implant to promote healing.

Generally, we place one implant per missing tooth. Though your molars have two to three roots, our most frequent approach to replace these missing back teeth is to use larger types of implants.

A depiction of the upper jaw with all normal teeth
1. Normal
An example of the upper jaw missing a tooth with the jaw bone unhealed
2. Tooth Loss
An representation of a healed upper jaw bone after loosing a tooth
3. Healed Bone
An digital representation of the initial dental implant placed in the jaw bone
4. Implant Placed
A representation of the healed jaw bone after placement of the dental implant
5. Healing
An example of a fully restored tooth using a dental implant
6. Implant Restored

Healing from Dental Implant Surgery

Length of healing time varies depending on factors including age and bone strength. Sometimes, implants are ready for the next phase immediately upon placement, and sometimes, your gums and jaw bone need several weeks or months to strengthen. Your surgeon will discuss the recommended healing time and schedule follow-up appointments. When the initial phase of healing is completed, your surgeon attaches an abutment (support post) or healing cap to the implant. This brief procedure enables the crown to be attached to the implant while allowing gum tissue to strengthen.

Your surgeon may make impressions of your teeth when placing the implant, ensuring that your crown will be ready when the the healing process is complete. One to four follow-up appointments are usually recommended to track the progress of the healing process and determine when you are ready for the restorative phase.

When the gum tissue around the implant area is weak or decayed, we may perform a soft tissue graft. In this brief, comfortable procedure, a small quantity of gum tissue is moved from elsewhere in your mouth to the implant area. This new tissue is often stronger, appears more natural, and is more easily cleaned.

The final phase involves attaching the crown, or replacement tooth, to the top of the implant. Now you have a healthy tooth with full functionality that blends seamlessly with the rest of your teeth.

Dental Implants Presentation

To provide you with a better understanding of dental implants, we have provided the following multimedia presentation. Many common questions pertaining to dental implants are discussed.

How long do I wait between tooth extraction and implant placement?

It often takes several months for your mouth to heal enough to promote implant placement. In some cases, implants can be placed immediately after extraction, which simplifies your surgery timeline but involves more risk. Discuss the benefits and tradeoffs of this approach with your surgeon. Immediate implant placement is not recommended if you have infections or other bone problems.

If your tooth has been missing for more than a few weeks, be aware that the adjacent jaw bone has likely weakened. Normally, your jaw bone maintains its strength by supporting your teeth, and without your teeth’s roots to stimulate bone growth, the bone atrophies. One year of missing teeth can cost up to a third of your jaw bone’s thickness. If your jaw bone is weak or thin, we may recommend a bone graft to strengthen the implant area, ensuring that the implant is well-supported.

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