Dental implants are a popular and effective way to replace missing teeth. The procedure can take several months to complete, and the results are definitely worth the wait! But how long does a dental implant procedure take from start to finish? You’ll need to confirm with a dentist that offers consultation appointments, but here’s a look at each stage of the dental implant process—from the initial examination to the final placement of the implant.
The Dental Implant Process: From Start to Finish
Besides the healing time, most surgical procedures are deemed finished after the surgery. However, that isn’t the case with dental implants. In fact, one of the most crucial parts of the process is just beginning once the implants are placed—and it is vital to the success of the dental implant procedure.
Broadly, the dental implant process consists of three stages—the initial consultation, the implant surgery and the attachment of the artificial tooth. However, the exact nature of the process may not be the same for everyone, and additional steps may be required before or after the implant surgery. These will affect how long the procedure takes to complete.
For example, dental implant surgery must be performed on a healthy mouth. Thus, the dentist will treat these first if there are signs of active gum disease or tooth decay. Additionally, if the jawbone is not dense enough to hold an implant, bone graft surgery may need to be carried out—and it may take a year to complete the dental implant process.
Let’s take a closer look at each stage.
Initial Consultation and Examination
During an initial consultation, the dentist will take a thorough medical history and review your dental records.
They will also assess your current oral health and thoroughly examine your teeth, gums, and oral tissues.
X-rays of the mouth or CT scans may be taken to evaluate the health of your jaw.
Suppose you are deemed a suitable candidate for dental implants, a personalised treatment plan is developed, and impressions of your mouth are taken so the laboratory can prepare your custom-made artificial tooth (or teeth).
Get a dental consultation near you to find out more. It should generally take 1-2 hours.
Dental Implant Surgery
The surgery to insert a dental implant is usually carried out under local anaesthetic, which numbs the area around the implant. However, conscious sedation can be given in addition to the local anaesthetic if you are of a nervous disposition.
The procedure is relatively straightforward and typically takes around an hour to complete. Recovery from the surgery is usually quick, and most people quickly return to their normal activities within days. How long does a dental implant (surgical) procedure take? Typically, it takes 1-2 hours to place one implant.
After dental implant surgery, the area is left to heal. During this time, the implant fuses with the jawbone (osseointegration). Dental implants are typically made from titanium (a material compatible with the human body), so they won’t be rejected and provide a secure and robust base on which to mount an artificial tooth.
Attaching the Replacement Tooth
The attachment of the replacement tooth is the final part of the dental implant process. In patients with healthy jaw bones, this can often occur around 3-4 months after the dental implants are inserted into the jaw. However, if augmentation of the jawbone is necessary with a bone graft, it may be up to a year before the procedure is finalised.
Attaching the artificial tooth is straightforward and performed under a local anaesthetic—generally taking no longer than an hour.
Looking After Dental Implants
In truth, the dental implant procedure may well be finished, but dental implants require a lifetime of care if you want them to last. Just as natural teeth need cleaning to prevent bacterial plaque, dental implants require the same attention.
You must have a thorough twice-daily cleaning and flossing routine to keep the tissues surrounding any dental implants free from plaque and healthy to prevent peri-implantitis (a condition similar to gum disease that destroys gum and bone tissue).
Besides your cleaning routine, you must visit a dentist regularly who can monitor the health of your mouth and dental implants. If problems are spotted, early treatment can often nip them in the bud. For example, if you have a build-up of tartar on your implants, the dentist can remove it before any harmful bacteria can run amok. Unfortunately, if you neglect your dental implants, there is a chance you may lose them.
How long does a dental implant procedure take: The bottom line
The dental implant process is not the quickest treatment you can get—unlike a crown or denture. But, the beauty of dental implants is that they mimic natural teeth so well that there is no other tooth restoration option that matches them for aesthetics, feel and function. Get a consultation at your local dental clinic today if you’d like to know more about dental implants and whether you are suitable for them.
Healthline: What you need to know about a dental bone graft
Science Direct: Osseointegration
Am. Academy of Periodontology: Peri-implant diseases