The procedure to place a dental implant takes 30 to 60 minutes for one implant and only 2 to 3 hours for multiple implants. The number of appointments and time required vary from patient to patient. The surgeon will bring great precision and attention to the details of your case.
Prior to surgery, you may receive antibiotics for greater comfort, intravenous sedation, or nitrous oxide (laughing gas). Your periodontist will discuss these options with you during your consultation. A local anesthetic is administered to numb the area where the dental implant is placed.
When you are comfortable, your periodontist makes a small incision in the gum tissue to reveal the bone. Your periodontist will create space using special instruments and gently inserts the titanium implant. The top of this implant is often visible through the gum. Sometimes it is better in the early stages of healing to have the implant covered by the gum tissue.
Now the healing begins. The length of time varies from person to person, depending upon the quality and quantity of bone. In some cases, implants may be restored immediately after they are placed. The periodontist will advise you on follow-up care and timing. After the initial phase of healing, the periodontist will place an abutment (support post) or a healing cap onto the dental implant during a brief follow-up visit. This allows gum tissue to mature and provides access to the implant.
Occasionally, impressions are made at the time the implant is placed. This enables the crown to be ready when the implants have healed. How long your mouth needs to heal is determined by a variety of factors. Follow-up care (one to four appointments) ensures that your mouth is healing well to determine when you are ready for the restorative phase of your treatment.
It may be beneficial to perform a soft tissue graft to obtain stronger and natural appearing gum tissue in the area around the implant. This process involves moving a small amount of gum tissue from one part of your mouth to the area around the implant. Most often, it is a brief and relatively comfortable procedure.
Whether one tooth or all of your teeth, your periodontist will complete the restoration by fitting the replacement tooth (crown) to the dental implant.
Implants are often placed several months after extraction. At times, an implant may be placed immediately after extraction of a tooth. This may involve a little more risk, but it simplifies the process — you won’t need to wait for another appointment to place the implant. When infection or other problems with the bone are present, immediate implant placement is not the best treatment.
If your tooth has been missing for some time, the adjacent support bone is likely to grow thinner and shrink. This occurs because the root of the natural tooth has to be present to stimulate the bone. As much as one-third of your jaw’s thickness can be lost in the year following tooth extraction. If you are missing enough bone, you may benefit from having additional bone grafting in the area. This ensures the implant will be adequately supported when it is placed in the jaw.