Dental implants are one of several options available to people with missing or damaged teeth, along with dental bridges, crowns, and dentures. Many patients favour dental implants over other tooth restoration methods because they are permanent, long-lasting, and look and function like natural teeth.
There are several steps involved in preparing and fitting dental implants, and some patients are surprised by the length of time this process takes. For patients that wonder how long does a dental implant take, here is a complete outline of the dental implant procedure.
What is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant, also called a tooth implant, refers to the tiny, screw-like, metal post that is fitted directly into your jaw during the implant surgery. The jawbone fuses to the implant, which acts as a sturdy root for the artificial tooth.
At Toothsome, we use cutting-edge Straumann Roxolid SLActive implants which are made from a durable combination of titanium (85%) and zirconium (15%). These biocompatible materials form a strong integration with the surrounding bone.
The replacement tooth - a crown, bridge, or denture- is connected to the dental implant by an abutment and is custom made to blend with your other teeth. These artificial teeth look and feel like a natural tooth, giving you a beautiful smile.
How Long Does a Dental Implant Take?
How long a dental implant takes depends on your individual situation. An implant with temporary restoration can be completed in a single session, whereas implants with permanent restoration generally take between four to six months to heal and regain full function.
For complex cases, where multiple grafting procedures are needed, the dental implant procedure can take between six and twelve months. We aim to provide the shortest surgical and recover time possible.
Depending on your oral health, we offer guided dental implant surgery which uses a flapless keyhole procedure, eliminating the need for a large incision in the gum tissue. The narrow diameter of our Straumann Roxolid implants reduce the risk of implant failure, and protect the surrounding tissue and vascular structures from damage, for faster healing.
The Dental Implant Procedure: Step-by-Step
Initial Consultation and Treatment Planning
Before you and your dentist decide if a dental implant is right for you, it’s essential for your dentist to establish the condition of your oral health with a thorough examination.
At Toothsome, we ensure that all our patients are aware of their options and that their questions and concerns are answered. In this initial consultation, our patients will discuss their treatment possibilities with either Dr Chou or Dr Willis, who both have many years of experience performing successful dental implant procedures.
If you are a good candidate for implants and decide to go ahead with the procedure, we will create a detailed treatment plan.
To get a clear picture of your missing or damaged tooth and the site where the implant will be fitted, you will receive X-rays, a CT scan, and any other necessary diagnostic imaging.
Dental Implant Placement
The implant surgery is completed in a single appointment. Depending on the complexity and number of implants, this appointment takes between one and three hours. Where possible, the procedure can be performed using flapless keyhole style surgery through the gum, which has a shorter recovery time.
Alternatively, the dentist makes a small incision in the gum to expose the bone beneath. A small hole is then drilled into the jawbone, and the dental implant is embedded. This is the most invasive part of the dental implant procedure, and our dentists endeavour to make you as comfortable as possible. You may opt to have this surgery under conscious sedation or general anaesthetic.
Depending on your case, you may be a candidate for same-day dental implants which involves placing the implant and the abutment in a single session. In most cases, it is advisable to wait between three to six months until the site of the implant is completely healed before placing the abutment. This time ensures that the implant has integrated with the bone tissue, forming a solid base for your new artificial tooth.
If needed, the dentist can place a temporary crown to fill the gap before your permanent tooth is fitted, so you don’t have to feel self-conscious about your smile.
For the week after the dental implant surgery, you may experience some discomfort, such as swelling, bruising, and minor bleeding. To minimise discomfort and aid healing, eat soft foods during this period, and follow your dentist’s aftercare instructions. If you have any questions or concerns post-surgery, you can call Toothsome at any time or visit free of charge for a follow-up appointment.
Dental Implant Restoration
Once your gums have healed, an impression is taken of the implant site, and a high-quality tooth replacement is made that matches your other teeth in shape, size, and colour. This artificial tooth is fitted to an abutment that connects to the implant, leaving you with a durable, natural-appearing restoration that looks and feels like a real tooth.
Dental Implant Maintenance
Dental implants are built to last; however, they need to be properly cared for just like your natural teeth. Implants are surrounded by bone and mucosal tissue which, just like gums, is susceptible to the impact of bacterial plaque.
If you maintain good oral hygiene and dental habits, your dental implants can last you a lifetime. This includes daily brushing and flossing, reducing your intake of sugary foods, visiting your dentist regularly, and avoiding damaging habits like smoking. To help with keeping the area around your implant clean, we recommend using extra soft dental floss to minimise irritation to the implant site and prevent peri-implantitis.
The answer to the question “how long does a dental implant take?” varies from patient to patient according to their current oral health, and whether they need further treatment such as a bone graft or sinus lift.
Although it may feel daunting at first, accomplished dentists such as Dr Chou or Dr Willis at Toothsome have years of experience performing the dental implant procedure and will ensure you feel safe and comfortable.
If you are considering getting a dental implant, contact Toothsome on (02) 8203 8786. We are happy to talk you through the procedure and answer any of your questions.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.