For those considering dental implant surgery for the first time, there may be some questions as to how long the procedure should take from initial consultation to the end result. The short answer is that the process can last anywhere from 6–13 months, depending on a range of variables.
As with most medical procedures, a casual consultation with an appropriate healthcare worker begins the process. Once forms are filled out and a plan is created and discussed, the patient must complete any necessary steps before the surgery can begin.
The first steps should involve a consultation with either a specialized orthodontist or dentist specifically trained for dental implant surgery. During this consultation, the dental professional reviews the patient’s medical history, takes X-rays of structures inside the mouth and creates a mold for teeth and gums. The results of this consultation determine if the jawbone is strong enough to support the implants or if additional steps need to be taken before surgery can occur.
If the jawbone to undergo the surgery is not strong enough to support implants, then bone grafting may be necessary for the process to continue. Bone grafting involves taking either existing bone from other parts of the body or bone-substitute material and welding it to the jawbone. This strengthens the hold of the jaw so that future implants are more likely to hold in place with this added support. If bone grafting is required, it could set the dental implant surgery process back a few months.
The dental implant surgery
Once the surgeon determines the jawbone is strong enough to maintain implants, any partial teeth located at the surgical site are removed. With all the pre-surgery stages completed, the implant surgery itself can be scheduled.
During the first surgical phase, the dental implant is placed into the part of the jawbone where the missing tooth used to be. After a predetermined period of four to seven months, the jaw should recover, and the second phase can commence.
Here, extensions are added to eventually connect implant to crown. These also shield the gums from getting caught in the implants. A temporary crown protects these new pieces while the patient recovers from surgery. Finally, after anywhere from 6–13 months from the start, the final stage sees a permanent crown replace the temporary one.
Like any other dental operation, recovering from a dental implant surgery can feature pain, swelling and even bleeding around the treatment site. Pain medications may be necessary for the following week or two, and antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent an infection. After these discomforts go away, take care of new implants by cleaning them the same way as normal teeth: Brush and floss regularly.
Protecting teeth from injury and decay keeps any mouth healthy in the long run. Nonetheless, should you find yourself down a couple of teeth, dental implant surgery may be the solution to restoring a healthy smile.
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