If you are considering undergoing a dental implant procedure then you may want to know the answer to the question “how long does a dental implant procedure take?” The short answer is anywhere between 4-9 months, but there are a whole host of factors that can and do determine the exact length of a specific dental implants treatment.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some of these factors and we’ll also see how and why it’s impossible to place an exact one-size-fits-all number on such a treatment. So let’s dive in and take a look…
One of the key points about dental implants is that they need to be placed into sufficient bone to ensure optimal long-term stability. The problem is that those who have been without a tooth or teeth for some time will find that bone tissue has diminished. In fact, did you know that during the first 12 months after tooth loss around 25% of the bone tissue mass will have been reabsorbed back into the body?
While digital computer-guided surgery may negate the need to replace bone in some patients, others may find that they need to undergo a bone graft procedure to build up any diminished tissue prior to dental implants being placed.
Naturally, the area will need to heal before any type of implant placement can take place, meaning that this can add on a further 1-3 months to any dental implant procedure.
Another pre-treatment may involve a sinus lift or augmentation. Sometimes the floor of the sinus cavity is too close to the area where dental implants are being placed. As the name suggests, a sinus lift is a simple treatment carried out to raise the sinus floor making it safe to place an implant. Again just like bone grafting, this will involve a short recovery period to allow the area to fully heal before dental implants can finally be placed – a recovery period that will nonetheless add further time onto how long a dental implant procedure takes.
Bone fusion (osseointegration)
When it comes to chairside surgery (the placing of dental implants themselves) the process is actually pretty quick. This is because nowadays most of the planning is carried out beforehand using the latest digital (virtual) technology. In fact, dental implants that are planned digitally can be placed in as little as 20 minutes. And even using conventional implant methods, patients should expect surgery to last no more than one hour.
However, once an implant or implants have been placed, then it’s a case of waiting for any remaining bone tissue to fuse with the implant itself and this, of course, is partly down to the healing abilities of the patient and partly down to nature.
As you can imagine, the healing abilities of a patient will differ from patient to patient and unfortunately, this is a part of the dental implant procedure that simply can’t be rushed. Some patients may find they need just a couple of months while others need three to four months before their implants are stable enough to support a permanent dental crown or bridge.
So how long does a dental implant procedure take up to this point?
Well, without pre-treatments and a speedy bone fusion process a patient could be looking at a lesser timescale of approximately 3-4 months but add in pre-treatments and a longer osseointegration period and that figure could be more like 9 months in total.
Other factors can also dictate the length of a dental implant procedure from start to finish and these are so-called lifestyle factors…
Smoking and drinking
While there is nothing wrong with the occasional drink, excess alcohol can affect the body’s ability to heal. This, in turn, can slow down the bone fusion process. The same can be said for smoking. Chemicals contained within cigarette smoke, particularly nicotine can also impact the body’s ability to heal and osseointegration can take twice as long or in some cases, bone fusion doesn’t occur at all.
For this reason, a dental implants dentist will expect a patient to stop smoking for the duration of their treatment at least if they are to achieve dental implants success.
Other medical conditions
Certain medical conditions, in particular diabetes, can also affect the length of a dental implant procedure. Bone formation can significantly be reduced in patients with uncontrolled type II diabetes. This is because diabetic patients often have reduced levels of osteocalcin – a protein hormone needed for the production of healthy bone. This, in turn, can result in reduced levels of bone growth meaning a slower period of implant stabilisation or worse still, an inability to stabilise at all.
How long does a dental implant procedure take? – The conclusion
The length of a dental implant procedure depends on several factors pertaining to each case and this is why we can only give a rough ‘from and to’ guide time. Your case could, for instance, be relatively straight forward or it may be complex. Either way, our highly skilled team will be able to give you a better idea of your situation after an initial consultation and ultimately, a better idea of how long your dental implants treatment will take.
If you are considering dental implants as an option to replace missing teeth, then come and talk to the team at DDSS/DDII. We have a special interest in placing digital dental implants that provide faster surgery time, greater accuracy and a speedier recovery.
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Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.