The dental implant process is complex, and it takes time to complete. Following through the procedure and taking care at each step allows for a greater success rate. Before you commit to dental implants, it’s best to have an idea what you’re agreeing to and what you can expect over the next three months to a year.
This page explains the dental implant procedure in general terms. If you are looking for dental implants and want a better idea what your procedure will be like, please call (619) 299-5925 for an appointment with a San Diego implant dentist at Strober Dental.
Planning Your Dental Implant Procedure
There are several stages of planning that we will go through before your surgery. First, we will go through a general consultation, talking to you about dental implants and whether you are a candidate for dental implants. Depending on where you are in your decision-making cycle, we might perform an exam at this initial visit or we might not. An initial dental exam will help us determine the health of the site where the implant is to go, looking for gum disease or other oral health problems that can interfere with dental implant healing.
We will talk to you about your cosmetic goals. We want to know whether you just want to fill this gap with a natural-looking tooth or if you’re looking for a full smile makeover that can dramatically improve the appearance of your smile.
If you are looking at full dentures, we will also talk about your functional goals. Implant dentures can be made so they are fully supported by the dental implants, maximizing your chewing force and the security of dentures. Less demanding are dentures that are just held in place by your implants but rest most of their weight and force on your gums.
We will talk to you about your medical history in detail. First, we want to make sure you’re generally in good health. Next, we want to know whether you are taking medications that can interfere with your dental implants.
Before your surgery, we will perform a more thorough evaluation of your teeth and jaw. This will include CT scans that will tell us how much bone you have at the implant site and whether it’s dense enough to support an implant. This will tell us if we need to add an extra step for a bone graft to your dental implant procedure.
We will also take digital impressions of your teeth at this time, allowing us to begin planning for your restorations.
Dental Implant Surgery
Once the plan for your implants is in place, we will schedule your implant surgery. If you have failing natural teeth, we can extract them during the same procedure. Bone grafts can also usually be performed at the same time as dental implant placement. If your situation requires a separate bone grafting procedure, count on at least another three to six months for this to heal before your implants are placed.
Depending on the complexity of the procedure, it can take anywhere from an hour to 8 hours to complete. At the time we schedule your surgery, we will be able to give you a good idea of what to expect in your case.
Once your dental implants are placed, we can evaluate stability. This is the first time we will know for sure whether we can place a dental crown or denture on your dental implants right away. Before this, we can tell you our expectations, but expectations have to give way for the reality of the situation and what is best for your implants as they are.
If we can’t place a restoration on your implants at this time, we may place a healing abutment or conceal the implants under your gums to let them heal.
But, don’t worry, even if your implants can’t support a restoration right away, you won’t have to leave our office with a gap in your smile. We have several options that we can use to give you a smile that looks whole and attractive while your implants are healing.
Whether we place temporary restorations or not, we will take impressions that will help us plan your final restorations.
Healing and Osseointegration
You will want to take the rest of the day off after your dental implant procedure. Don’t stress yourself, just rest and focus on studying your postoperative instructions. Many people can go back to work the next day after their dental implant surgery. Some may want to take a few days off. We will talk to you about what’s appropriate in your case, but you also need to be aware of your body and your healing.
As your body heals, it will build bone around the dental implants, securing them in place. This process is called osseointegration, integrating the dental implant into the bone. It can take three to six months or even more to complete, and it’s the time when your implants are the most vulnerable. About 60% of dental implant failures occur in the first year, so it’s important to follow all postoperative instructions carefully so you can avoid preventable failures.
Final Restoration Placement
Once your dental implants have finished healing, we will start the restoration process. If your implant was placed under your gums for healing, you will need another procedure that will expose your implant and allow us to place a healing abutment. The healing abutment encourages proper growth of your gums around the implant, a step that takes four to six weeks.
Placing the final restoration is a relatively easy step. The temporary restoration or healing abutment is removed and the final restoration is placed. The final restoration has been designed using the digital and physical impressions we took of your teeth and implants.
Once the final restorations have been placed, we will check to make sure that your bite is still functioning properly and that the implant isn’t being subjected to excess forces. We will evaluate it cosmetically and may make minor changes as necessary.
Then we will turn the implant over to you for regular maintenance and let you know when your next follow-up visit should be.
Do you have questions about the dental implant procedure? Would you like to start your procedure today? Please call (619) 299-5925 for an appointment at Strober Dental.