Like many good things in life, the dental implant procedure takes time. Depending on the type of procedure you have, it could take three months to a year to complete. If you consider that dental implants last years, even decades, the procedure is well worth it. But don’t think that you’ll spend that time with a gap in your teeth–we have solutions to ensure that your smile stays whole during the entire procedure.
This page is just a basic rundown of the generic dental implant procedure. If you want to learn what the procedure will be like for you, please call (702) 873-0324 for an appointment with a Summerlin, Las Vegas implant dentist at the office of Dr. James B. Polley.
Planning Your Dental Implant Procedure
During your consultation, we will evaluate your candidacy for dental implants and talk to you about your goals for your dental implant procedure. We want to understand your cosmetic and functional goals. Especially if you are getting full dentures, there’s a significant difference between wanting implants to hold your dentures in place and getting implants that will support your dentures and chew with them as you would natural teeth. Dentures designed to support a full chewing force require more bone support and more implants.
Before we can place your dental implants, we have to do a comprehensive evaluation of your overall health, your oral health, and the health of the site or sites. We will talk to you about your medical history and collect information about your current medical condition, including any medications you are taking. It’s important to be honest with us about these because some common medications–such as bisphosphonates and antidepressants–can significantly impact your dental implants. If you don’t remember or are unsure about details of your health, with your permission we can communicate directly with your doctor.
Our primary concern about your oral health is the existence of gum disease, which is the leading cause of dental implant failure. We may sometimes postpone your implant placement to treat gum disease if necessary.
We will perform a comprehensive assessment of the site where your dental implant is to be placed. We want to make sure it’s healthy and that there’s adequate dense bone there to support your implant. We will use a cone beam CT–essentially a 3D x-ray–to analyze the site and ensure it’s ready for an implant. In some cases, we may recommend a bone graft be placed before we can place implants. This may take three to six months to heal.
We may do some rough planning for your final restorations at this time, but it won’t be finalized until later in the process.
Placing Your Implants and Osseointegration
Once we have agreed on a plan for your dental implants, we will schedule the procedure. Usually, we can place your implants at the same time we extract your old teeth. The procedure can take an hour or two, or it may take all day, depending on the complexity of the procedure. Unlike most dental offices, our office is certified to perform general anesthesia, so you can be completely unconscious for the procedure if you desire it or if Dr. Polley thinks it best.
When your implants are placed, we will evaluate their stability. Stable implants can support a dental crown, bridge, or denture right away. Less stable implants may need to have a healing abutment or may need to be completely under your gums to allow them to heal. Based on your exam, we will tell you whether we expect to be able to place a restoration on your implant right away, but we can only make the final decision once the implant is actually placed.
Even if your implant can’t support a restoration, we have options that can be used to keep your smile whole during healing. Depending on the extent of your procedure, you might want to take a few days off, but many people can go back to work the next day. We will give you instructions about what is appropriate in your case.
Once your implants are placed, your body will begin building bone around them. This process is known as osseointegration, and it can take three to six months to complete. During this time, it’s crucial that you follow all postoperative instructions. More than half of all dental implant failures occur during the first year, often for preventable reasons, so follow instructions carefully and make all your follow-up visits.
Final Restoration Placement
After your dental implants have finished integrating, we will move to the next step. If your implant was concealed under the gums, we will reveal it and place a healing abutment or abutments. It takes four to six weeks for your gums to heal around the abutments, but once that is complete we are ready to place the final restoration.
If you had a healing abutment or temporary restoration, we can simply remove them and place the final restoration.
We will take the information we gathered about your cosmetic and functional goals to design the final restoration using digital impressions of your implants and natural teeth. The restoration will be designed to match your natural teeth cosmetically or to create an attractive new smile as appropriate. If you want, cosmetic treatments like porcelain veneers can be used to improve the appearance of your natural teeth at the same time as your implant is placed.
Once your final restorations have been placed, it’s only a matter of following routine maintenance protocols to ensure a lifetime of service from your dental implants.
To start your dental implant procedure in Summerlin, Las Vegas, please call (702) 873-0324 for an appointment at the office of Dr. James B. Polley.