A dental implant is the best replacement for a missing tooth. If you’re a suitable candidate, you should seriously consider choosing it over other tooth replacement methods. However, getting an implant isn’t as easy as walking into your dentist’s office without a tooth and walking out with one. The actual implant isn’t a tooth at all. Instead, it’s a metal (usually titanium) post that acts as a “root” for a crown.
Time Needed to Fuse With the Bone
During your first visit, the dentist will insert the implant into the jaw. It will be some time before it is ready to receive the crown. First, the jawbone must heal around the post, growing around it and securing it firmly. Naturally, this isn’t the work of a few weeks. On average, it takes six to eight months for an implant to settle down, but it can take even longer, especially if you needed a bone graft.
When Bone Grafting is Required
Few people are aware that oral health issues can destroy the structure of the jawbone. If the bone has degenerated because of advanced gum disease or because the bone that underlies a tooth that has been missing for a long time, there may not be enough bone to hold the implant in place. In this instance, the dentist must rebuild the jaw before implants can be placed. Bone grafts will take an additional three to four months to heal.
Other Treatments That May Be Required
Periodontal disease will preclude any form of implant surgery until the infection can be cleared. If you have gum disease, your dentist will treat it before taking any further steps towards tooth replacement. This could take anything from a few weeks to a few months depending on how bad the infection is.
The Implant Process
Once your dentist is satisfied that you are ready to receive your implant, the process begins. It will take your dentist around an hour per implant. Your next appointment will be four to six months later. Now, the dentist will decide whether your implant is ready to receive the abutment and crown that complete the process.
The abutment must be placed first, and it needs a few weeks to settle before it is ready to receive the tooth. While you wait, the dentist will have ordered your crown from the laboratory. It will be custom-made to match your other teeth.
At last, the dentist attaches your new tooth to the abutment. It looks, feels, and functions, just like a real tooth and you have reached the end of the process you began months ago.
The Best Things Are Worth Waiting For
Although the dental implant process is quite a journey, it is well worth embarking on. Other tooth replacement methods require much more maintenance, and can lead to oral health problems of their own. The best solutions aren’t always the easiest ones, but those who have the patience to see them through will reap the rewards.