The Implant Process

When a patient decides that implant restorative dentistry is the option most suited to their needs, the implant process is outlined as follows. Extraction, If Necessary Implant patients fall into two categories; either they are missing teeth which need replacement, or they have failing teeth which need replacement. If a patient has already lost a tooth, an implant can be placed as soon as eight to ten weeks after tooth loss. If a patient needs extraction of failing dentition, we can in most cases place the implant(s) at the same visit as the extraction(s).

Implant Placement

Placement of a single implant is usually performed under local anesthesia, and requires a 1.5 hour office visit.  Approximately 15-20 minutes is spent at the beginning of the appointment to anesthetize the patient and to review the post operative procedures. The patient is then moved into a sterile suite, where we will spend approximately the next 30 minutes performing the extraction if needed, and placing the implant using different dental equipment that underwent curette retipping beforehand. Following implant placement, our patient is allowed to recover for another 15 to 20 minutes, while post operative care procedures are again reviewed, including post operative medications, and the patient is given an ice pack to take home. The patient will be advised to avoid rigorous exercise and to rest during the first 24 hours following surgery. In most cases, our patients can return to work the next day. A follow-up appointment is scheduled for 7-21 days later. If a case is more complicated, or if additional dental implants are placed, supplementary time will be needed for the implant placement appointment. The above scenario is typical for an uncomplicated single implant with extraction.

Covered or Uncovered

When viewing the surgical area after placement of an implant, our patients will see one of two things. The area will either be sutured over allowing the tissue to heal covering the implant, or a small metal cap (the size of a pencil eraser) can be seen protruding from the tissue. If the implant is covered following placement, a short uncovering procedure will need to be performed before the final restoration (crown) is placed by the restorative dentist. A covered implant or uncovered implant is decided upon by the doctors, and is predicated upon the esthetic requirements of each case.
Healed Uncovered Implant Dental Implant

Healed Uncovered Implant

Covered Implant with sutures. The adjacent teeth have been prepared for crowns which are not in place Post Operative Instructions Following implant placement and a short recovery period, each patient will be released to go home with an ice pack and Post Operative Instructions. The success of your dental implant depends on your compliance with these instructions.  Accurate use of the prescribed antibiotic medication and antibacterial rinse is essential for timely healing, as well as reduced incidence of infection at the surgical site. Additionally, the Post Operative Instructions advise patients regarding the non-use of their new dental implants. As a general rule, dental implants should not be used for chewing purposes until the healing phase has been completed. Healing Time Following placement of the implant(s), the area will need to be allowed to heal for a period of time before the final restoration (crown, bridge, or denture) can be placed. During this time, the patient should not chew in the area of the new implants. Typically, an implant placed on the upper arch will need four to six months of healing time, and an implant placed on the lower arch will need two to four months of healing time. Individual healing times depend on each patient and the type of case involved.  Implant cases involving bone grafts require the extended healing periods.

Temporary Restoration

During the healing phase, a patient may elect to use a temporary restoration. A temporary restoration allows an implant patient to use an intermediate tooth replacement for esthetic purposes only. A fixed temporary crown can either be attached to a removable partial type of prosthesis, called a flipper, or it can be attached directly to the implant. Placement of a temporary crown direction onto an implant is typically reserved for areas directly seen in the patient's smile, and cannot be used for chewing purposes. A temporary restoration is not generally needed for back teeth. A temporary denture can also be used for patients with no teeth, however patients heal best if a fixed temporary restoration is placed.
Temporary Denture Temporary Denture Flipper or Partial Denture Flipper or Partial Denture
Pre-Operative Pre-Operative Fixed Temporary Restoration After Implant PlacementFixed Temporary Restoration After Implant Placement
Final Restoration Final Restoration