One of the first questions prospective patients ask us when considering an implant-based restoration is how long do dental implants take? Essentially, it can take as little as 4-6 months, while a patient may have to wait 12 months or more in other cases.
So why can’t we give a more precise answer?
Because there are simply too many underlying factors that dictate the completion timescale from patient to patient. Factors like:
can all affect how long a tooth implant takes.
What we can do, however, is to give a step-by-step breakdown of each stage of the process so you know roughly what to expect. So let’s do exactly that!
An initial consultation determines whether you’re a good candidate for dental implants. By conducting a comprehensive oral exam and asking the right questions, the dentist can tell if you (and your mouth) are healthy enough to undergo dental implant treatment. Typically, this is carried out during one meeting lasting a few hours.
In some cases, notably when a tooth or teeth have been missing for some time, a graft may be required to ensure sufficient healthy bone to attach the implant. Alternatively, a tooth extraction or bone smoothing (alveoloplasty) might be needed to prepare the site for the new dental implant. Inevitably, these processes will need to be carried out before an implant can be placed. So we must factor in recovery time, adding to the completion timescale.
Assuming that all (if any) pre-treatment processes have now been completed, the tooth implant can now be placed. This part of the procedure is carried out under light sedation and is usually over within 1-2 hours. Most patients comment on how quick this part of the treatment is. In most cases, the worry about implant surgery is far greater than the surgery itself.
Any initial healing period after surgery is usually relatively quick. Typically, patients can expect to return to normal activities within 1-2 weeks. However, a crucial part of the success of a dental implant is a process known as osseointegration. This is where the titanium post naturally fuses with the gum tissue to create a super-stable platform. The platform is used as a base to attach an artificial dental crown or bridge. The very nature of this biological process will affect how long dental implants take because healing abilities differ from person to person.
Evidence suggests that the osseointegration process in diabetics and smokers, for example, takes considerably longer because they interfere with or slow the bone-building process.
While the bone is slowly fusing with the implant, the dental team will be busy creating a lifelike and long-lasting restoration. During this period, you’ll be asked to revisit the dentist so that they can take impressions and x-rays as your mouth heals. This information is needed to create your permanent restoration.
A week or two before the final fitting, the implant will need to be exposed during a quick surgical process to fit the abutment. The abutment is a small collar that connects the implant to the new tooth. It also acts as a shock absorber to spread the load when you bite down naturally. Abutment placement is a quick procedure taking 1 hour or less.
Step #7 – Restoration Day – 1-2 hours
1-2 weeks after the abutment is placed, you’ll be called in for your final appointment. Your dentist will remove any temporary teeth and check the implant post to ensure it fits your permanent restoration perfectly. Finally, they will bond it onto the abutment and check for bite, thus completing the procedure.
So now you know the answer to the question ‘how long do dental implants take’ you’ll see that there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Instead, treatment timescales will be personal to your current condition.
If you are considering dental implants to replace a missing tooth or teeth and would like to know if you’re a good candidate or how long dental implants take in your particular case, come and talk to the team at Chesterfield Dentistry. Our experienced team of dentists are committed to providing you with the highest quality care while helping you make the best decisions for your oral health.
Call us at (314) 936 3621 or make a booking online.