If you've been talking with your dentist about having all of your upper or lower teeth extracted, he or she may suggest that you explore the possibilities of dentures or implants. While dentures can be an affordable and less invasive solution, implants are longer lasting and more convenient over time. Here's a look at what you should know about implants before you decide how to proceed.
How Long Do Implants Take?
Dental implants aren't an overnight procedure. In fact, implants can take several weeks to complete, because you'll have to wait for the jaw bone to heal around the implant. The process is shortest when your jaw bone is still in good condition. If you have low bone density, you may face a longer process because you'll need to have a bone graft first in order to secure the new implant. This extends the process, because you'll have recovery time from the bone graft before the implant can be put in, then you'll have to wait for the bone to heal around the implant before the crown can be placed.
What Can You Expect Of The Implant Process?
If you're giving consideration to having dental implants, you should understand what the process entails. Knowing what is ahead of you will help you determine if it's the right path. For most upper implants, the procedure is pretty standard.
- Evaluation - Your oral surgeon or dentist will meet with you for the initial evaluation. This will include a comprehensive review of your dental care history, including 3D x-rays and a mold of your teeth and gums. The x-rays will help your dentist determine the condition of your jaw bone, which is a key part of the process. The mold will be used to ensure that the posts and crowns are properly sized and shaped.
- Follow-Up - Follow-up appointments are usually scheduled some time after the initial evaluation. This allows your oral surgeon or dentist to thoroughly review your records and examine the x-rays. With a solid understanding of your dental care needs, he or she can discuss your options and the timeline expected for your extractions, implants and all of the associated recovery.
- Surgery - If you decide to move forward with the implants, your next step will be to have the extraction surgery to remove the problematic teeth. Once the gums have healed sufficiently from the extractions, the surgeon will complete the bone grafts if you need them. After the bone grafts, the implant posts can be put into place, but only after your gums and jaw bone have healed. You may be fitted with a temporary denture along the way so that you have something in place in the interim.
- Final Tooth Placement - After the posts have healed and the swelling has dissipated, your dentist will attach the crowns. He or she will start with a digital rendering to show you what it will look like, and then your teeth will be crafted. They're molded much the same way as a traditional crown, and then they'll be secured on the implant posts in your oral surgeon's office. This process usually takes a few hours, because the dentist will need to confirm that your jaw line and bite are balanced. In most cases, you'll also have an x-ray done, either right away or a few weeks after the placement.
Understanding what you can expect of this process is one of the first steps to choosing the right option for you. With the information here and the support of your dentist or oral surgeon, you'll be able to determine if this is the best path for your situation. For more tips, talk with your dentist today.