Do you need an implant to replace a missing tooth? Whether it’s due to an accident, tooth decay, or denture installation, tooth implants are a common procedure that many people undergo each year. Whether you choose endosteal implants (surgically implanted directly into your jawbone) or subperiosteal implants (attached under your gum tissue but above your jawbone), you will be sure you’re getting the best long-term option to bring back your glowing, healthy smile.
The tooth implant process is a lengthy time commitment involving many steps, from the initial decision to the final outcome. Not sure what to expect during the process? We’ve outlined the various stages you’ll go through on your way to a successful tooth replacement, how long each will take, and some overall expectations you should have.
In order to determine the extent of your implant needs and which type of implant you are best suited for, you’ll need to speak with a dentist who is knowledgeable and experienced in the area of implant dentistry. Your consultation will outline the timeframe required for the process, costs, and the estimated recovery time. You should leave your consultation feeling confident in your own knowledge of the procedure and in that of the clinic.
Many patients, when seeking out a tooth implant, have extensive jawbone damage. This can occur due to the progression of gum disease, or erosion of bone structure underneath a missing tooth if there is a long delay in replacing it. A bone graft may be necessary to restore the jaw to a fortified state so that it can support the implant.
A bone graft is a surgical procedure in which your own bone or synthetic bone material is added to your jaw to increase its strength and density. This is an intensive procedure and requires generous healing time so the new material can be accepted by your body and solidify in place. The usual recommended recovery period after a bone grafting procedure is four to six months. After the graft has successfully healed, the area is ready to receive an implant.
Dental implants cannot be installed in an area where gum disease is present. Your dentist will assess the condition of your gums and, if necessary, determine a treatment plan to first restore your gums’ health before proceeding with the implant. Depending on the stage of periodontal disease, it can take anywhere from weeks to several months to eradicate.
Installing the Implant
Once your dentist deems your mouth to be healthy and ready, the installation can begin. A date is scheduled and you will go into the dental clinic to be sedated and operated on. Your dentist will then place the implant either directly into your jawbone (endosteal implant) or under your gums but above your jawbone (subperiosteal implant). If you receive a subperiosteal implant, your surgery will happen in stages as a metal frame is first placed on top of your gums, and the implant tooth itself is only added after the frame has healed and is firmly in place.
After your implant is installed, the projected healing time ranges from four to six months. The implant must be accepted by the body and fuse to its location. This process is known as osseointegration. At this point, the root of your tooth is effectively replaced. This is why dental implants are so effective and comprehensive; they replace the entire tooth structure.
Attaching the Tooth
After the implant is completely integrated, it’s time to attach the tooth. First, a titanium rod will be connected to the implant, called an abutment. The abutment is the connector between the implant and your shiny new tooth.
After a few weeks of healing following the attachment of the abutment, the tooth will be installed. A dental lab will create the tooth, and impressions of your own mouth will be used to create the crown to give the tooth a natural feel and function in your mouth. The tooth is affixed to the abutment, completing the implant process.
All in all, how long will a tooth implant take? From bone graft to other treatments, installation of the “root”, healing time, placing of the abutment, and finally the installation of the tooth itself, a tooth installation could take well over a year. This is because your gums and jaw need to be healthy enough to receive the implant, with adequate time to heal after each step along the way. It may seem like quite a while to wait, but your oral health is worth it. Taking care of yourself and your mouth is a great indicator of your overall well-being. A tooth installation, while a long-term commitment, is your surest long-term solution.
Dawson Dental offers a team of e trusted dental experts across the GTA and Ontario. We have several clinics within the city of Toronto, making it easy to find services wherever you’re located. We are passionate about patient care, education, and maintaining relationships that support dental health for a lifetime.