Dental Implant Procedure

Types of Dental Implants

Dental implants are the leading treatment option for missing teeth. A dental implant replaces missing teeth by using a biocompatible titanium screw surgically inserted into the jawbone. A custom abutment connects the implant screw to a personalized restoration like a crown, bridge, or denture to help create an artificial tooth.

jaw with teeth and dental molar implant

Implants can vary based on the type you need and your dentist. The most common types of dental implants are:

  • Single tooth implants replace a single missing tooth.
  • Implant retained bridges replace several missing teeth and can use a natural tooth or an implant as an anchor.
  • Implant retained dentures replace an entire arch or both arches. They usually use 4 to 6 implants depending on the bone level. 

Who is a Good Candidate for Implants?

Not everyone is eligible for implant dentistry. For dental implants to be successful, you need to be in good medical health and have optimal bone levels. If you have any chronic medical conditions or inflammation, it can compromise the dental implant healing process. 

This means for people who are immunocompromised with cancer, HIV/AIDS, autoimmune deficiencies, and similar may need to discuss other treatment options depending on their condition.

Dental Implant Procedure Steps

1. Initial consultation

At your first visit, your dentist can determine if you are a good candidate for dental implants with a comprehensive examination. This will include thorough medical and dental histories, a clinical evaluation, and advanced digital imaging. You will also discuss if you need any other surgical procedures like a bone graft or sinus augmentation to ensure sufficient bone to place the implant. 

2. Implant placement 

Your surgical process will include your dentist administering local anesthesia, so you are numb and comfortable. Some patients choose to use Nitrous Oxide or General Anesthesia if they have dental anxiety. 

You may need a tooth extraction before your implant or at the time of implant placement. Many people also require bone grafting to ensure more support of their jawbone and dental implant. 

The dentist will gently insert the titanium implant screw into the jawbone and suture it up so your gum tissue can heal. The implant screw will serve as the tooth root for your new artificial tooth. A post-surgical radiograph will be taken. 

3. Healing process

Once your implants are placed, it will take several months to heal. During this time,  your implant will osseointegrate, or fuse, into your jawbone. Your dentist will carefully monitor you for a few months to ensure you are ready for a custom restoration.

4. Custom prosthetic

Once properly healed, your dentist will evaluate you and create an impression for the custom restoration. Your healing cap is removed so the dentist can prepare for your restoration. 

Whether you need a single crown, an implant bridge, or a full arch denture, you will receive a custom prosthetic that will naturally match your adjacent teeth. Once designed and prepared by the laboratory, your dentist will permanently insert your prosthetic to give you a new, long-lasting smile. 

5. Follow-up

You will need to follow-up with your dentist a few days after the procedure to ensure you’re healing properly and there is no infection. You may need a dental x-ray at one of your follow-ups to determine if the implant is correctly osseointegrated into your jaw bone.

How Long Does a Dental Implant Procedure Take? 

The actual surgical process usually lasts about 60 minutes, depending on how many implants you need. With surgical guides and advanced dental imaging, your dentist or oral surgeon has an accurate idea of where to place the implants for optimal success. 

Can Dental Implants be Done in One Day?

Some dental offices claim they can perform dental implants in a single session. Dental implants in a single visit depend on your bone levels and health. However, many dentists will wait at least 4 to 6 months before attaching a prosthesis, so there is less chance of failure. 

Is it Painful to Get Dental Implants?

Dental implants may be slightly uncomfortable following the procedure. However, your dentist will administer local anesthetic to ensure you are comfortable throughout treatment. 

You can expect the following after your procedure: 

  • Pain — It is recommended to take over-the-counter pain medication as needed.
  • Swelling — Use a cold compress or ice packs to reduce swelling and inflammation. You can also rinse with a salt rinse or antibacterial mouthwash to decrease the chances of infection.
  • Bruising — You may notice temporary bruising around the surgical site. It is normal, but if you think you are bruising more than expected, contact your dentist. 
  • Eating — Avoid biting into hard candy or crunchy foods that can disrupt the surgical implant site. Eat soft foods as directed by your dentist to keep the implant stable.
  • Sutures — Many dentists will place self-resorbing sutures that dissolve within 7 to 10 days. If your dentist placed sutures that do not resorb, you would need them removed by your dentist. 

How Long is the Recovery Process? 

The dental implant process is not an overnight procedure. It is an oral surgery that will require healing. You can plan for your implant to take up to six months (from start to finish). It may take more depending on your healing process, if you need a bone graft, and if your dental implant properly fuses into the jaw bone. 

If you follow your dentist or oral surgeon’s instructions, there is a high success rate for dental implants (up to 95%). The hope is this new artificial tooth will last you a lifetime. 

Is Any Follow-Up Care Necessary for Dental Implants?

It is 100% recommended and necessary to follow up with your dentist after dental implant surgery. The dentist needs to evaluate if your implant site is healing well and there is no infection. 

Also, you invested a lot of time and money into this procedure. This means you will want to determine if the implant is properly fusing, and there is no peri-implantitis. The typical follow-up care for dental implants will usually include:

  • 2 week follow-up — Observation of healing, suture removal, post-surgical instructions, and care to ensure there is no infection
  • 6 week follow-up — Review oral hygiene and evaluate healing of soft tissue. Your dentist may take a radiograph to compare to pre-implant bone density and if your implant is healing well.
  • 3 month follow-up — Radiographs are taken to evaluate for osseointegration (fusing) and bone levels. It will be determined if you’re ready for your implant to be uncovered and for the restorative stage of your treatment. 

How Much Do Implants Cost? Does Insurance Cover Treatment?

Implant coverage depends on your individual insurance policy. Many insurances do not cover implants because they are considered cosmetic. 

There are also substitution treatments for missing teeth like dental bridges or dentures. These treatments are covered by insurance. 

In the case your insurance has implant benefits, you usually have a percentage that will be paid out-of-pocket.

Without dental insurance, implants are a positive investment into your overall well-being and dental health. Costs will primarily depend on: 

  • The type of implants you need
  • Your dentist
  • Where you live
  • If you need any additional surgeries or treatments like a bone graft
  • If you need a dental prosthetic like an abutment and crown

The average cost of a dental implant (by type) is as follows:

  • A single tooth implant can cost $2000 to $4000 for the implant screw 
  • An implant supported bridge can range $5000 to $15000 depending on how many dental crowns you need
  • An implant supported denture can cost anywhere from $10000 to $25000 depending on how many implants and the material of your prosthetic

Resources

ACP Facts & Figures. American College of Prosthodontists. July 24, 2020. https://www.gotoapro.org/facts-figures/

Albrektsson T, Brånemark PI, Hansson HA, Lindström J. Osseointegrated titanium implants: requirements for ensuring a long-lasting, direct bone-to-implant anchorage in man. Acta Orthop Scand.1981;52(2):155-170.doi:10.3109/17453678108991776 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/15953193_Osseointegrated_Titanium_Implants_Requirements_for_Ensuring_a_Long-Lasting_Direct_Bone-to-Implant_Anchorage_in_Man

Kathleen Manuela D'Souza, Meena Ajay Aras; Types of Implant Surgical Guides in Dentistry: A Review. J Oral Implantol 20 October 2012; 38 (5): 643–652. doi: https://doi.org/10.1563/AAID-JOI-D-11-00018

Quirynen M, De Soete M, van Steenberghe D. Infectious risks for oral implants: a review of the literature. Clin Oral Implants Res. 2002;13(1):1-19 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/11366189_Quirynen_M_De_Soete_M_van_Steenberghe_D_Infectious_risks_for_oral_implants_A_review_of_the_literature

Warreth, Abdulhadi & Ibieyou, Najia & O'Leary, Ronan & Cremonese, Matteo & Abdulrahim, Mohammed. (2017). Dental implants: An overview. Dental Update. 44. 596-620. 10.12968/denu.2017.44.7.596. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319041719_Dental_implants_An_overview

Wingrove S. Peri-Implant Therapy for the Dental Hygienist: Clinical Guide to Maintenance and Disease Complications. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell; 2013. https://www.nature.com/articles/vital1750

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