Today I’m going to talk about the process of having a dental implant. Having a dental implant usually requires a series of procedures and some appointments in the office. I say usually, because it depends if you already are missing the tooth, or if the tooth needs to be extracted the timeline will be different for both of those. Let’s talk about the more traditional scenario where a tooth is missing and you’re looking to have it replaced. Hopefully the tooth has only been missing for a short period of time. That would mean that your bone has not shrunk that much. Any tooth that’s missing for any extended duration four months or more typically you’ll begin to see bone loss that occurs. That bone loss could require a bone grafting in order to rebuild lost bone because you haven’t been using the bone because the tooth isn’t there. If the tooth is missing and we have adequate bone and it’s in the back of the mouth typically, healing time is about three to four months once the implant is placed. That’s about the time it takes for the implant to fuse to the jaw bone. And then you can make the tooth on top of it. During that period of time, the implant is in, but the tooth is not made. The reason for that is that you don’t want to use or chew on the implant to early. It would be analogous to having a broken arm that was in a cast, then lifting weights while you have the cast on. It’s probably not something that you would want to do.
The second scenario would be if you had a tooth that needs to be extracted. Let’s say you had a root canal and the root canal tooth broke, and fractured the root. This is actually very common. In this case the tooth needs to be extracted. That will typically require that we extract the tooth first, sometimes add bone to the socket through bone grafts, and then let the extraction site heal for about three to four months. Three to four months later the gum has closed over the top and then the implant can be placed. Once the implant is placed, it again requires an average healing time of three to four months. Then at that point the tooth can be made on the implant. So if you have a tooth there that needs to be extracted, the whole procedure may be approximately nine months from start to finish.
That is the traditional way to do things predictively and very successfully. Quite routinely in my office I place what’s called immediate dental implants. That means at the time a tooth is extracted an implant is put into its socket at the same time. That saves a lot of time right there. Another option is what’s called an immediate load or an immediate temporary. This is a type of restoration on an implant. This means that the implant is placed and a tooth is made at the same time. This bypasses that long healing period. Now please note that this is something that is really on a case-by-case basis and should be very carefully looked at because it increases your risk of failure quite tremendously. It needs to be done absolutely perfectly for this to work out. If that’s the case, it’s a big time saver in fact it saves quite a bit of money. One of the reasons for this procedure is that it saves the bone from ever shrinking in the first place. This typically is reserved for implants and tooth replacements in the front of the mouth. Back teeth almost always require the more traditional healing period if you want to have a successful dental implant procedure, have a tooth that lasts a very long time, and not have any complications or problems. And that’s the overall process of having dental implant!
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