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How Long Does an Implant Procedure Take?

Woman with beautiful smile

Single-tooth implant procedures can be used to help people who are missing one or more teeth. An implant is surgically placed within the jawbone, and after it integrates (attaches) to the surrounding bone, it acts as a new “root” for the crown that will replace your missing tooth.

A crown (cap), which is made to look just like a natural tooth, is then attached to the implant to fill the space left by the missing tooth.

For this procedure to work, there must be enough bone in the jaw. The bone has to be strong enough to hold and support the implant. If there is not enough bone, it may need to be added using a procedure called bone augmentation or bone grafting. In addition, the natural teeth and supporting tissues near where the implant will be placed must be in good health.

How Do Implants Work?

Model smile with two dental implants

An implant-restored tooth consists of three parts:

  • The implant , which is made of titanium, is placed in the upper or lower jawbone.
  • The abutment can be made of titanium, gold, or porcelain. It is attached to the implant with a screw. This part connects the implant to the crown. It is shaped like a natural tooth that has been cut down to fit under a crown.
  • The restoration (the part that looks like a tooth) is a crown. It usually is made of all metal, all porcelain, or porcelain fused to metal (PFM). The crown is screwed or cemented onto the abutment.

The Implant Process

Senior man receiving dental exam

The timeframe for completing the implant process depends on many factors. When the traditional method of placing an implant is used, the shortest timeframe is about five months for the lower jaw and six months for the upper jaw. This includes the surgery as well as placing the permanent crown. However, the process can last a year or more, particularly if bone needs to be built up first.

Using another technique, implants and healing caps are placed at the same time. If the dentist is using mini implants, he will place them as well as the crown, bridge or denture at the same visit.

With the traditional method, two procedures are required, with three to six months of healing between them. During the first procedure, a small incision is made in the gum where the implant will be placed. A hole is created in the bone, the implant is placed into it, and the incision is stitched closed.

At the end of the healing period, a second procedure takes place. It involves making a new incision to expose the implant. A collar, called a healing cap, is screwed onto the top of the implant. It helps the surrounding gum tissue to heal. After a few weeks, the healing cap is removed. Then, the abutment is screwed into the implant and used to support the crown.

A one-stage procedure can be used sometimes for implants as well. With this approach, your dentist can place the implants, abutments, and a temporary crown or bridge all in one visit.