Overview of Dental Implant Placement

The Surgical Procedure

Implant placement is a procedure that takes 30 to 60 minutes for single implants and longer for multiple implants. The number of appointments and time required vary from patient to patient but often the implant can be placed at the same time the tooth is extracted.

Dr. Porter, Dr. Ratliff and Dr. Doles are committed to bringing great precision and attention to the details of your case. More difficult cases may be planned digitally and guided to ensure the most accurate placement possible.

Many implant surgeries are done under IV sedation or general anesthesia. These options are discussed with you at your consultation appointment. A local anesthetic will be administered to numb the area where the implant will be placed. When you are comfortable, the surgeon will make a small incision in the gum tissue to reveal the bone, create space using special instruments, and gently insert the titanium implant. The top of this implant is often visible through the gum. Sometimes it is better in the early stages of healing to have the implant covered by the gum tissue. The specifics of your case will be reviewed by the doctor and our knowledgeable team.

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Upper jaw with all normal teeth
1. Normal
Upper jaw missing a tooth with the jaw bone unhealed
2. Tooth Loss
Healed upper jaw bone after losing a tooth
3. Healed Bone
Initial dental implant placed in the jaw bone
4. Implant Placed
Healed jaw bone after placement of the dental implant
5. Healing
Fully restored tooth using a dental implant
6. Implant Restored

The Healing Phase

Now the healing begins. The length of time varies from person to person, depending upon the quality and quantity of bone. In some cases, implants may be restored immediately after they are placed. Your surgeon and his team will advise you on follow-up care and timing.

How long your mouth needs to heal is determined by a variety of factors. Follow-up care is usually needed to ensure that your mouth is healing well immediately after surgery and again several months later to determine that you are ready for the restorative phase of your treatment.

After the initial phase of healing, your surgeon places an abutment or a healing cap onto the implant during a brief follow-up visit. This allows gum tissue to mature and provides access to the implant for your dentist. Sometimes this abutment or healing cap is able to be placed at the time of implant placement. This depends on several factors but your surgeon will go over these with you after your surgery.

In some cases it may be beneficial to perform a soft tissue graft to obtain stronger, more easily cleaned and natural appearing gum tissue in the area around the implant. This process involves moving a small amount of gum tissue from one part of your mouth to the area around the implant. Most often, it is a brief and relatively comfortable procedure.

The Restorative Phase

Your surgeon will see you back to evaluate your implant once an adequate amount of time has passed to ensure it has healed into the bone. Once the implant has been evaluated and an abutment/healing cap has been placed, you will be sent back to your dentist.

Whether it’s one tooth or all of your teeth that are being replaced, your dentist will complete the restoration phase. They will usually take impressions and work with a lab to create your final replacement tooth (crown), bridge, or denture and anchor it to the dental implant.

When Are Dental Implants Placed?

Dental Implants Presentation

To provide you with a better understanding of dental implants, we have provided the following multimedia presentation. Many common questions pertaining to dental implants are discussed.

Dental Implants Presentation

Implants are often placed at the time of tooth extraction. When possible this saves you from needing to have another surgery to place the implant. If there is compromised bone or infection, it may be necessary to bone graft the extraction site and wait several months for optimal bone healing. The bone graft is painless and helps to preserve and grow bone during the healing phase.

If your tooth has been missing for some time, the adjacent support bone is likely to grow thinner and shrink. This occurs because the root of the natural tooth must be present to stimulate the bone to maintain its size. As much as one third of your jaw’s thickness can be lost in the year following tooth extraction. If you are missing enough bone, you may benefit from having additional bone grafted into the area. This ensures the implant will be adequately supported when it is placed in the jaw. Your surgeon will go over this with you  during your consult.

How Many Implants Do I Need?

Most frequently, one implant per missing tooth is placed. When many teeth are missing in a row it is often possible to plan for an implant supported bridge. This requires fewer implants than the number of teeth missing. This option will be evaluated and discussed with you by your surgeon and your dentist.