Normally, the process for getting a dental implant can last anywhere between six to eight months and requires two surgical procedures.
In the initial surgical appointment, a tooth root implant made of titanium is gently placed into the bone socket of the missing tooth. The procedure can be done using either local anesthesia or general anesthesia for patients who are anxious. The recovery from the procedure is often associated with very little discomfort.
As the jawbone heals, it grows around the implant and secures it into place. Typically this healing process takes anywhere between three to six months, depending on the patient. Meanwhile, if desired, the patient is outfitted with a temporary prosthesis, such as dentures or a flipper (much like an orthodontic retainer that has a tooth attached to it).
Once the root implant is firmly bonded to the bone, the second phase begins. Your oral surgeon or your dentist will uncover the implant and attach small post called an abutment, which will act as an anchor for the artificial tooth.
The creation and placement of the artificial tooth, or crown, is performed by your restorative dentist. He or she will take a mold of your bite and send the model to a dental lab which will fashion the replacement tooth to meet your specifications. The final placement of the tooth requires only a short, simple appointment.
In select cases, advances in dental implant technology have made it possible to extract teeth and place implants with crowns at one visit, greatly simplifying the surgical process.