If you know anything about dental implants, you’ll know that it’s a multi-stage procedure spanning several months or more. One of those stages – an essential part of the procedure – is the tooth implant healing process. But what do we mean by this? How long does it take? And what factors affect it? Let’s find out.
In essence, the tooth implant healing process can be split into two parts. The first part being the time it takes for the surgical site to heal after dental implant surgery. In contrast, the second part is more about bone fusion (osseointegration) but more about this later. For now, know that in most cases, after dental implant surgery, time is needed for the implant to ‘heal’ before the restoration crown can be placed.
Let’s go back to the first part…
Initial healing time after conventional dental implant surgery
Remember, dental implants need to be anchored directly into the jaw, so, in conventional surgery, there is likely to be some gum cutting. Along with this, patients may also experience some bruising and swelling. The recovery time for a conventional implant procedure is typically 2-4 weeks, although any bruising and swelling typically peaks after 48 hours and dissipates within 5-7 days.
Although patients should stick to a softer diet for the first few days, they can expect to resume normal eating after 10-14 days, with a caveat of avoiding particularly hard, crunchy or chewy foods.
Tooth implant healing process after computer-guided dental implant surgery
Patients fortunate enough to undergo computer-guided (digital) implant surgery will also see a quicker initial recovery time.
Why? Because when a patient undergoes dental implants using digital (computer-guided technology), there is no need to make an incision in the gum. Instead, a small pilot hole is made through the gum and directly into the jawbone, where the implant is placed. As a result, surgery is quick (typically just 10-20 minutes). Moreover, because the gum is left intact, no sutures are necessary. As a result, the initial first stage recovery period is quicker (typically just 2-5 days)
So, now you know the ins and outs of the first-stage tooth implant healing process. Let’s talk about the second stage…
Bone fusion (osseointegration)
The thing that sets dental implants apart from other forms of missing tooth replacement is that once anchored down into the jaw, they become self-supporting. So unlike conventional bridges or dentures, dental implants don’t rely on the support of other structures like natural teeth but instead rely on a process known as osseointegration.
A bit of a mouthful, I know, but the term osseointegration derives from the Greek word “osteon“, meaning bone and the Latin word “integrare“, meaning to make whole.
The natural process of bone fusion occurs once the titanium implant is anchored down into the jawbone. Because titanium has biomechanical properties, it attracts bone. The result is a super-strong platform that can support a single crown, a dental bridge, or as part of a series of dental implants supporting a complete denture. +
What to know about this part of the tooth healing process?
Firstly – The osseointegration process cannot be rushed. The time scale to complete bone fusion differs from patient to patient. Typically, it takes between 3-6 months for a solid fusion between bone tissue and implant.
Secondly – Patients don’t feel this process at all and can carry out everyday routines as per normal.
Thirdly – certain factors can affect this part of the dental implants process.
If you’re a smoker, for example, a heavy drinker, or you have osteoporosis or uncontrollable diabetes, there’s a chance that you won’t be allowed to go ahead with dental implant surgery because of the unpredictability factor.
Typically, and before dental implant surgery, each case is assessed on merit to see whether you’re a good candidate. Those with the conditions listed above may be seen as being too risky. So, you’ll probably be asked to give up smoking, reduce your alcohol intake, or get your diabetes under control first before anything is considered.
So there you have it, the tooth implant healing process explained, how long it takes and what affects it.
The key point to take away here is that when people refer to the healing process for dental implants, they’re referring not only to surgical recovery but also to bone fusion. So, while the former can take a matter of days using digitally-guided methods, the latter (osseointegration) will take many weeks or months.
So are dental implants worth the wait?
As dental implant dentists, we’re going to say yes, but if you look at the fact that dental implants remain the gold standard of missing teeth replacement even after 50 years, you can probably see why.
If you want to learn more about the tooth implant healing process or are considering dental implants, we invite you to come and talk to the team at DDII (Digital Dental Implants Institute). During a free smile consultation, we’ll look at your case, see if you’re a good candidate and answer any questions or concerns you might have.
If you’re concerned about safety and hygiene during these uncertain times, you’ll be pleased to know that we take your hygiene and safety very seriously. We ensure all staff regularly use hand sanitiser and place hand sanitiser in all patient rooms. Add to this our highly experienced team; trust us, you’re in good hands.
Want to know more? Get in touch today!
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
NCBI – Biocompatibility Of Advanced Manufactured Titanium Implants – A Review
NCBI – The Influence Of Smoking And Alcohol On Bone Healing: A Systematic Review