Overview of Implant Placement

The Surgical Procedure

Our practice utilizes state of the art computer guided dental implant surgery utilizing Cone Beam CT (cat scan) technology. This technology provides our doctors with a highly accurate 3-D radiographic image for your dental implant surgery.

For most patients, the placement of dental implants involves one surgical procedure. First, implants are placed in your jawbone. For the next 4 to 6 months following surgery, the implants are beneath the surface of your gums gradually bonding with the jawbone. During this same time, there is a temporary healing abutment which will be connected to the dental implant. This will slightly protrude through the surface of the gum tissue. You are most often able to wear temporary dentures or teeth and are able to eat a relatively normal diet during this time.

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After the implant has bonded to the jawbone, the second phase begins. Your general restorative dentist will now place the final tooth on your dental implant at this time. When the final teeth are placed, the implant within the bone is not seen. Most patients experience minimal disruption or pain during the entire surgical and restorative procedure.

A depiction of the upper jaw with all normal teeth
1. Normal
An example of the upper jaw missing a tooth with the jaw bone unhealed
2. Tooth Loss
A representation of a healed upper jaw bone after losing a tooth
3. Healed Bone
A digital representation of the initial dental implant placed in the jaw bone
4. Implant Placed
A representation of the healed jaw bone after placement of the dental implant
5. Healing
An example of a 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. The surgeon will advise you on follow-up care and timing.

Healing Abutments

After the implant is placed, it will require some undisturbed healing time to integrate into the bone. A temporary healing abutment of the exact same diameter and tissue height as the final natural profile abutment is placed. This abutment is removed when the final abutment and restoration are placed.

Occasionally, impressions are made at the time the implant is placed. This enables the crown to be ready when the implants have healed. How long your mouth needs to heal is determined by a variety of factors. Follow-up care (one to four appointments) is usually needed to ensure that your mouth is healing well and to determine when you are ready for the restorative phase of your treatment.

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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.

Whether it’s one tooth or all of your teeth that are being replaced, your dentist will complete the restoration by fitting the replacement tooth (crown) to the dental implant.

Temporary Tooth Replacement

Often times, if an implant is placed for one of the front teeth, you may prefer not to walk around without a tooth. Discuss temporary tooth replacement with both your dentist and oral surgeon for available options regarding immediate temporary tooth replacement.

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.

When Are Dental Implants Placed?

Implants are often placed several months after extraction. At times, an implant may be placed immediately after extraction of a tooth. This may involve a little more risk, but it simplifies the process—you won’t have to wait for another appointment to place the implant. When infection or other problems with the bone are present, immediate implant placement is not the best treatment.

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 has to be present to stimulate the bone. 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.

How Many Implants Do I Need?

Most frequently, one implant per missing tooth is placed. Because many of the larger teeth in the back of your jaws have two or three roots, the most common approach is to replace missing back teeth with larger implants.