Overview of Implant Placement

The Surgical Procedure

The procedure to place an implant takes approximately 45 to 60 minutes for one implant and 2 to 3 hours for multiple implants. The number of appointments and time required vary from patient to patient. The surgeon will bring great precision and attention to the details of your case.

The options for surgical treatment are discussed with you at your consultation appointment, this includes the possibilty of bone grafting being required. Frequently patients choose a Day Surgery general anaesthesia procedure in a private hospital for implant surgery but some implant procedures are suitable for local anaesthesia with or without sedation in the practice.

The surgery involves the surgeon making a small incision in the gum tissue to reveal the underlying bone, a space is created using special instruments and the titanium implant is gently inserted into the bone under low speed with irrigation. A healing abutment is usually placed on the top of the implant and this is is often visible through the gum. On occasions it is better in the early stages of healing to have the implant covered by the gum tissue.

A depiction of the upper jaw with all normal teeth
1. Normal
An example of the upper jaw missing a tooth with the jaw bone unhealed
2. Tooth Loss
A representation of a healed upper jaw bone after losing a tooth
3. Healed Bone
A digital representation of the initial dental implant placed in the jaw bone
4. Implant Placed
A representation of the healed jaw bone after placement of the dental implant
5. Healing
An example of a fully restored tooth using a dental implant
6. Implant Restored

The Healing Phase

Now the healing begins. The length of time varies from person to person, depending upon the quality and quantity of bone but the integration process usually takes approximately 5 months. The surgeon will advise you on follow-up care and timing. The healing abutment (support post) protuding through the tissues allows gum tissue to mature and provides access to the implant.

Occasionally, impressions are made at the time the implant is placed. This enables a temporary crown to be ready when the implants have healed. How long your mouth needs to heal is determined by a variety of factors. Follow-up care (one to four appointments) is usually needed to ensure that your mouth is healing well and to determine when you are ready for the restorative phase of your treatment.

It may be beneficial to perform a soft tissue graft to obtain stronger, more easily cleaned and natural appearing gum tissue in the area around the implant. This process involves moving a small amount of gum tissue from one part of your mouth to the area around the implant. Most often, it is a brief and relatively comfortable procedure.

Whether it’s one tooth or all of your teeth that are being replaced, your restorative dentist will complete the restoration(s) by fitting the replacement tooth/ teeth (crown) to the integrated dental implant(s)

When Are Dental Implants Placed?

Implants are usually placed several months after extraction. At times, an implant may be placed immediately after extraction of a tooth. This may involve more risk of a failure but it can simplify the process—you won’t have to wait for another appointment to place the implant. When infection or other problems with the bone are present, immediate implant placement is not the best treatment. Your surgeon can provide you with the best advice on this.

If your tooth has been missing for some time, the adjacent support bone is likely to grow thinner and shrink. This occurs because the root of the natural tooth has to be present to stimulate the bone. As much as one third of your jaw’s thickness can be lost in the year following tooth extraction. If you are missing a significant quantity of bone, you may benefit from having additional bone grafted into the area. This ensures the implant will be adequately supported when it is placed in the jaw.

How Many Implants Do I Need?

Frequently, one implant per missing tooth is placed but the exact number, particularly when multiple teeth are missing, is generally determined by liasion and planning between your restorative dentist and your implant surgeon. Because many of the larger teeth in the back of your jaws have two or three roots, the most common approach is to replace missing back teeth with larger implants.