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When Is It Possible For Dental Implants To Be Placed?

Single-tooth dental implants can be used in people who are missing one or more teeth. An implant is surgically placed in an opening that your dentist makes in the jawbone. After the implant integrates (attaches) to your bone, it acts as a new “root” for the crown that will replace your missing tooth. A crown (cap), which is made to look like a natural tooth, is attached to the implant and fills the space left in the mouth by the missing tooth.  For this procedure to work, there must be enough bone in the jaw. The bone has to be strong enough to hold and support the implant. If there is not enough bone, it may need to be added with a procedure called bone augmentation or bone grafting. In addition, natural teeth and supporting tissues near where the implant will be placed must be in good health.

How Do Dental Implants Work?

An implant-restored tooth consists of several parts:

  • The implant, which is made of titanium, is placed in the upper or lower jawbone.
  • The abutment can be made of titanium, or stainless steel. It is attached to the implant with a screw. This part connects the implant to the crown. It is shaped like a natural tooth that has been cut down to receive a crown.
  • The restoration (the part that looks like a tooth) is a crown. It usually is made of porcelain fused to a metal alloy (PFM). It also can be all metal or all porcelain. The crown is screwed or cemented onto the abutment. If the crown is screwed to the abutment, the screw hole will be covered with restorative material such as tooth-colored filling material (composite).

The Dental Implant Process

The time frame for completing the implant and crown depends on many factors. When the traditional method of placing a dental implant is used, the shortest time frame for a complete implant is about five months in the lower jaw and six months in the upper jaw. This includes surgeries and placing the permanent crown. However, the process can last a year or more, particularly if bone needs to be built up first.

A one-stage procedure is now used sometimes for implants. In this procedure, your dentist can place the implants, abutments and a temporary crown or bridge all in one visit.

Our periodontal team will do a comprehensive examination. During the exam, they will review your medical and dental history, take X-rays, and may create impressions of your teeth and gums so that models can be made. In some cases, our doctors may order a computed tomography (CT) scan of your mouth. This scan will help to determine how much jawbone is available to hold the implants in place. It also will show the location of structures such as nerves and sinuses (located above your upper teeth) so they can be avoided during surgery.

If the X-rays show that your jaw does not have enough bone to hold an implant, the dentist can discuss options for building up the bone. These may include bone grafting or bone distraction. Grafting involves taking bone from another source and adding it to your jaw.

Once you have enough bone to successfully hold an implant, you will schedule the first procedure, which involves placing the implant or implants in your jaw. Your periodontist will perform this procedure in office.

After the first surgery, our specialists will usually wait four or five months if implants were placed in the lower jaw, and six or seven months if they were placed in the upper jaw. During this time, the bone and the implants fuse.

Once the implants have become fused with the bone, you can schedule the second surgery. Your dentist will confirm whether the implant is ready for the second surgery by taking an X-ray. This surgery is simpler than the first.

Caring for Your Implants – You will care for your implants the same way you care for your natural teeth. It is important to brush and floss daily. If you have any problems, your general dentist or  your periodontal team will see you for an appointment.