First, your dentist will perform diagnostic procedures to ensure that you are a good candidate to receive a dental implant. This may include conventional digital x-rays, impressions for study models, or even a three-dimensional, digital x-ray known as a Cone Beam CT. If all conditions are favorable, the next step will be the actual surgery to place the implant in your jawbone. We will refer you to a specialist for the placement of the implant.
After implant surgery, the surrounding bone will heal via a process called osseointegration, during which the bone grows around the implant to hold it firmly in place. Complete integration with the jaw bone typically takes 3-6 months. Finally, your dentist will place a restoration (tooth or teeth) which resembles your natural teeth, such as a crown.
Once the implant surgery is completed – usually in an hour or two – the healing process begins, which typically takes 3-6 months. Additionally, the fitting of the permanent replacement tooth is usually accomplished in one to three weeks. We may provide you with a temporary replacement tooth or teeth for appearance and normal eating and speaking until the permanent replacement is ready. If your bone structure is strong enough, however, we may be able to place the implant and a temporary replacement tooth in one visit.
Most patients will adjust to implants immediately. Some discomfort or soreness is normal for the first few days following implant surgery. Medications will be suggested or prescribed by your doctor to help manage any discomfort. Most patients make a rapid recovery and are able to resume normal activities within a few days following implant surgery.
Dental implants should be cared for similarly to natural teeth. It is important to brush implants at least twice a day, as well as to floss between them. Additionally, as many as four dental cleanings per year may be necessary to maintain gum health.