Dental Implants: What to Expect During Each Phase of the Process
You may have heard that the process of placing implant-supported tooth restorations in your mouth can take several months and you are wondering why the process takes so long. Before undergoing treatment, you need to know what the different stages of the process are, and the approximate amount of time required for each stage. This article explains the entire dental implant placement process and answers other related questions.
Step #1: The Initial Dental Implant Consultation
The initial consultation with a dental implant specialist, such as Dr. Kacos in Shreveport LA, is the first step that gets the process going.
During this consultation, Dr. Kacos will conduct a detailed exam (visual exam, x-ray and medical history). The results of this exercise will determine your eligibility for dental implant surgery.
Once Shreveport’s dentist confirms your eligibility, he will take dental impressions and design a treatment plan for placing the dental implant and the crown. The treatment plan may include doing a bone graft, and the dentist will point this out to you.
Once all your questions have been answered and you consent to the dental implant procedure, Dr. Kacos will work with you to schedule the next step of the process.
Step #2: Tooth Removal and Bone Grafting
For some people, a severely damaged or infected tooth may need to be removed before the implant surgery can take place. Individuals with insufficient bone mass may also require bone grafting so that the implant will be anchored insufficient bone tissue to support it.
Tooth removal and/or bone grafting is therefore done during the second stage of the dental implant procedure. During bone grafting, bone is extracted from another part of your body, such as the chin or hip, and grafted onto the area where the implant will be placed.
You may require between 4-12 months to heal if bone grafting is done. If a tooth was extracted, the healing time may be a few weeks. Dr. Kacos will explain the specific duration for this during the initial consultation.
Step #3: Placing the Dental Implant
Once you heal after the tooth extraction (or bone grafting), you will come for another dental visit during which surgery to place the implant will be performed by Dr. Kacos and his experienced team.
This surgery typically lasts an hour or so, and you will not feel any pain during the procedure because you will have received a local or general anesthetic.
We asked our friend, Dr. Matt Laurich, a dentist in Canton, MI, about dental implant recovery. Dr. Laurich says that after this surgery, a few months will be needed for you to heal. This time varies depending on the jaw which has undergone dental implant surgery. For example, the upper jaw can take up to seven months to heal while the lower jaw requires a maximum of five months to heal. Once again, your local dentist will have indicated this healing time in the written treatment plan discussed with you during the initial consultation.
Step #4: Temporary Crown or Healing Collar Placement
When the implant fuses with your jawbone, the next step of the process can be done. This step entails placing a healing collar on the dental implant. The collar is there to prompt the gum to heal in a certain way around the implant. The healing collar also prevents the gum from covering the implant.
Some people get a temporary crown in addition to, or in place of the healing collar. The dentist will have decided in advance which option is appropriate for you, so what is indicated in the treatment plan is what will be done during this stage of the process. You will have this collar for approximately two weeks as the gums heal.
Step #5: Abutment Placement
The fifth stage of the dental implant procedure entails placing an abutment on the implant which has now fused with your jawbone. The abutment is screwed into the implant, and the dental crown will later be attached onto the upper section of the abutment.
A temporary crown is then placed on the abutment after impressions are taken of each abutment in your mouth. 4-6 weeks will then be needed for the gum to heal. During this time, a dental lab will be fabricating the permanent crown.
Step #6: Permanent Dental Crown Placement
This step marks the culmination of the entire dental implant process. During this dental visit, Dr. Kacos places the dental crown in the abutment. This process can take one of two variations.
First, the crown can be cemented onto the abutment. Alternatively, the crown will be screwed onto the abutment. From a cosmetic perspective, cementing is the better option because no screw hole will be visible at the top of the crown.
The crown you receive may be fixed or removable. Shreveport’s dentist explains that removable crowns have a metal frame that snaps into the abutment on the dental implant. You can remove the crown in order to clean it.
Alternatively, you may get a fixed crown. This crown is either cemented or screwed into the abutment. Fixed crowns cannot be removed, and you will clean them in the same way that you clean your teeth (by brushing and flossing). Fixed crowns are stronger and have greater positional stability due to the firm anchorage in the abutment.