Dental implants are the best way to get the most stable, longest-lasting replacement teeth. They look and work like natural teeth, can last for decades, and require no special care. Unlike other forms of artificial teeth, dental implants become a part of your body and will prevent bone loss in the jaw.
Dental implants are artificial tooth roots. The implant itself is a tiny screw made of titanium that’s placed into small holes drilled into your jawbone. Over time, bone grows around the post, making it as firm and secure as a natural tooth root. After a healing period of about three months, a connector called an abutment is placed on top of the implant post, then an artificial tooth is put on the abutment.
How Long Does a Dental Implant Procedure Take?
From beginning to end, typically, the entire implant process takes about 3 months. For the small proportion of patients who need bone grafts, the total time may be extended. And so the overall time frame for a dental implant procedure in part relies on your unique needs.
Implant Insertion / Placing the Post
If the dental implant surgery is performed by an oral surgeon, you will be placed under IV sedation and be asleep during the entire dental implant procedure, which takes from 1 to 2 hours. During implant insertion, your gums at the implant site will be surgically opened. Your oral surgeon will drill small holes into the bone, then place the implant post in the hole. The gum tissue is then closed.
Note: It’s important to know that where you choose to get your dental implants has a big impact on how long the procedure takes. At a regular dental office, the dental implant procedure will take 2 to 3 hours for just one implant, and an entire arch will take an entire business day (8 hours). It takes so long because regular dental offices are not specialists in dental implant surgeries and they don’t typically offer IV sedation, meaning the doctor will have to interrupt the implant procedure regularly to inject additional local anesthetic into the patient’s mouth and gums throughout the procedure.
In contrast, when you have your dental implant procedure done by an oral surgeon, you’ll receive IV sedation, which makes the procedure more comfortable and efficient. Oral surgeons are also experts in dental implant surgeries and so a single implant procedure usually takes less than an hour and an entire arch takes usually 3 hours or less.
Although gum tissue heals rapidly, the dental implant post needs time to become firmly attached to the jawbone. This is the process of osseointegration and takes three months. During this time, bone will fuse to the surface of the implanted post, making it as stable as a natural tooth root. Osseointegration is what gives dental implants their unsurpassed stability and reliability.
The procedure for placing a crown takes less than an hour. A crown is an artificial tooth placed onto the abutment, which is attached to the dental implant post.
A bridge is several artificial teeth connected together, which is typically placed on two implant posts.
The all-on-4 is a very large bridge that allows an entire arch of teeth to be securely placed while only 4 implants.
High-quality crowns and bridges are made of zirconia, a highly durable material that can last a lifetime. The implant crown/bridge is the only part of dental implants that people will see.
In general, people who have missing teeth or need teeth removed or replaced are candidates for dental implants. Regardless of overall medical and dental health, almost everyone has a way forward with dental implants.
An initial consultation is your first step in getting dental implants. It lasts about an hour, and during the consultation, your oral surgeon will assess your oral health and perform a detailed examination of your teeth and gums. Your oral surgeon will take a general medical history and determine if you have sufficient bone density and thickness for successful implantation. If you don’t, you may be a candidate for a bone graft, which builds new bone to support dental implants.
Precise digital scans of your mouth, including CT (computerized tomography) imagery and X-rays, are typically taken during the consultation. These scans help your oral surgeon determine how dense your bone tissue is, which helps locate the exact placement location for each implant.
Next, your oral surgeon will discuss your treatment options and work with you to develop a treatment plan. That includes establishing how long the procedure will take, how many appointments will be needed, what will take place at each appointment, and what aftercare will be needed.
Any damaged or diseased teeth must be extracted before dental implants are placed, but this can be done at the same time your implants are placed.
Bone grafting is a technique used to increase bone mass in situations where tooth loss or gum disease has caused bone tissue to become too thin for dental implants. It’s performed at your oral surgeon’s office and is an outpatient procedure.
Typically, only a small fraction of patients need bone grafting and it is needed only if the patient doesn’t have enough healthy bone in which to place implants.
There are five steps in the bone grafting procedure:
- The oral surgeon will place you under IV sedation. And so you’ll be asleep for the duration of the procedure. IV sedation assures your comfort and alleviates any anxiety you might have about the procedure.
- If you have any natural teeth left in the affected areas, they will be removed.
- Gum tissue at the implantation site will be opened, exposing the bone.
- Bone graft material containing living bone cells is placed within the incision.
- The site of the graft is closed.
Healing from a bone graft takes about four months. It’s important that the new bone reaches an appropriate thickness and stability before dental implants are placed. Having enough bone in which to place the implants ensures your dental implants will be secure.
The dental implant placement procedure is straightforward and conducted while you are under IV anesthesia. The entire procedure typically takes 2-3 hours.
Healing is the lengthiest part of the dental implant procedure. Bone tissue must grow around and fuse to the implanted titanium post before the permanent crown is placed. This fusing, called osseointegration, gives dental implants their stability and typically takes around 3 months.
Once your jawbone is fully healed, the next step in the dental implant procedure is placing the permanent crown and bridge on top of the dental implant(s). The dental crown, or artificial tooth, is the only part of the dental implant you or other people will see. The process of dental crown/bridge placement takes less than an hour.
There are many options to choose from for replacing teeth, including bridges or dentures, but dental implants are the only prosthetic tooth replacements that are permanent and offer a complete restoration to the look, feel, fit, and function of natural teeth.
These are some of the outstanding benefits of dental implants:
- Look like natural teeth in color and appearance.
- Prevent bone loss. Only dental implants prevent your jawbone from thinning. That’s because dental implants function just like natural tooth roots.
- Allow a return to natural speech. Dentures and missing teeth can make it difficult to enunciate correctly, while dental implants allow you to speak clearly.
- Restore a normal bite. With dental implants, your bite pressure and jaw alignment will return to normal, eliminating pain when speaking and eating.
- Allow you to eat any foods you want. Dental implants are functionally identically to natural teeth. You can eat any food you would eat with natural teeth.
- Prevent adjacent teeth from shifting. When a person is missing even a single tooth, teeth around the gap shift, pulling them out of alignment. Dental implants ensure your teeth stay in alignment.
- Easy to care for. You don’t need any special cleaning supplies. Just brush and floss like you would natural teeth.
- Always secure, will never slip. Unlike dentures which are prone to slipping and shifting, dental implants are as steady as natural teeth.
- Restore self-confidence, improve self-esteem, and allow a person to enjoy a full range of social activities.
1. Can a tooth implant be done in one day?
Yes, it’s possible to do a tooth implant, even several implants, in a single day. In fact, in procedures like Teeth-In-A-Day, All on 4, all implants are surgically placed in a single appointment.
2. Do you get put to sleep when getting a dental implant?
It depends on the doctor. When a dental implant procedure is performed by an oral surgeon, you will be put to sleep with IV sedation. IV sedation makes the procedure comfortable and stress-free. When the procedure is not performed by an oral surgeon, IV sedation is usually not offered and you will be awake during the procedure.
3. Is a tooth implant a painful procedure?
Dental implant surgery is not painful. When done by an oral surgeon, you will be comfortably sedated during the procedure. During the healing process, most people only need over-the-counter medication like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to manage discomfort.
4. Why do some offices take longer than others to do dental implants?
A regular dentist’s office will take much longer to carry out the dental implant procedure than a dental implant center with oral surgeons. Because dentists are not trained or certified to provide IV sedation, a dental implant procedure at a dentist’s office will take 2 to 3 hours for just one implant and an entire arch will take all day.
Regular dental offices take so long because they do not typically offer IV sedation, meaning the doctor will have to stop the procedure periodically to inject additional oral anesthetic, which makes the process more uncomfortable.
In contrast, having your dental implant procedure performed by an oral surgeon allows you to receive IV sedation, which makes the dental implant procedure comfortable, anxiety-free and efficient, allowing a single implant to be placed in less than 1 hour, and a full arch to be implanted in 2 to 3 hours.