Complete timeline of dental implant process: how long does it take? What to expect?

Getting a single implant can take as little as a couple hours or as long as two years. This includes the most common associated procedures such as extractions and bone grafting. Sounds like a lot of effort, but a permanent solution is worth it for sure.

Together with our implant specialists, we have prepared the ultimate guide on this process. You will be calmer knowing what awaits you at every step of the dental implant procedure.

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Consultation and treatment plan

The first thing that happens when you start thinking about an implant is a consultation. This may include X-rays and/or teeth impressions. It is not uncommon to see a few specialists, including:

  • a dentist,
  • a periodontist,
  • an oral surgeon,
  • a prosthodontist,
  • and sometimes even an ear, nose, and throat specialist.

Your medical history will be reviewed. Make sure to disclose any underlying conditions and what medication you are regularly taking.

Dr. Henry Hackney
Diseases such as diabetes and other autoimmune conditions have significant effect on treatment outcomes. Patients with uncontrolled diabetes will experience delayed healing.

If there are no contraindications a treatment plan is devised. You will be informed about what is going to happen each step of the way and how you should prepare. The most obvious thing is that if you are a smoker you will have to quit, at least for a while.

Your doctor will let you know whether you need bone grafting, how long the process will take, and what the recovery will be like. Dental implant costs and payment methods are likely to be discussed too.

Associated procedures

Tooth extractions and bone grafting are the most common procedures associated with dental implants. Neither might be necessary in your case, but it’s worth knowing what they are if it does come up during your consultation.

If you still have a tooth (or teeth) where you want the implant (or implants), an extraction will take place. Most often, though, dental implants replace missing teeth or dentition that is badly damaged.

Bone grafting involves thickening of the jawbone if it is too thin or soft to support an implant. The procedure is basically sourcing bone tissue from somewhere else in your body and inserting it into the jaw. Sometimes synthetic substitute material is used instead.

Healing after a dental bone graft usually takes about 4-12 months. This means your implant placement can only be done after this period is up. There will likely be several follow-up appointments to make sure everything is going as planned

Dental implant surgery

The next step is surgery. Implant procedure pain can be managed with some type of anesthesia. The most popular means are local injection, IV, or general sedation.

Your gum will be cut open to expose the bone. A drill will be used to make a small hole that will allow the titanium rod (implant) to be inserted. That can take up to a couple hours. You will leave the office with sutures and might have a separate appointment to remove them.

After the surgery, there will be a recovery period. It is especially important to adhere to your dentists instructions at this time to prevent dental implant failure.

You can have a temporary crown or denture fitted if you don’t want to go without teeth while the process of osseointegration takes place.

Osseointegration

Osseointegration is the implant and bone fusing. The material of the rod is biocompatible, which means bone can grow into it. This is what makes dental implants such a durable solution.

The process takes three to six months on average, with up to seven for the upper jawbone.

Dr. Henry Hackney
Smoking while bone and implants are integrating significantly increases chance of failure.

You will get a healing collar once this is complete. It is a piece of round metal that keeps gums from growing over the implant. It will stay on for 10-14 days. Return to the surgeon if it comes off in the meantime.

Abutment placement

The healing collar will be removed when the gums are finished recovering. The next step is placing the abutment, a piece of metal that will secure the crown (tooth cap) or bridge. This can be “skipped” if this step takes place at the same time as the implant.

Despite the fact that recovery from this procedure takes only 2 weeks, you will have to wait about 6 for the next one. This is how long it takes to make a permanent crown. Until then, you might wear a temporary. Otherwise, the abutment will be visible in the tooth gap.

Artificial tooth or teeth placement

The final stage is placing the dental crown or bridge. This looks like natural dentition. If you are not getting a full arch, the color and shape will be matched to the neighboring teeth.

Impressions of your healed mouth will be taken and the artificial teeth will be made. The crown or bridge is placed, screwed, or cemented into the abutment. In the case of snap-in dentures, you will be able to remove it yourself for cleaning.

Dental implant procedure timeline

The implant placement itself can take as little as a few hours, which includes time for anesthesia. The whole process can take up to two years, though. There are a few things that indicate how long the whole thing takes:

  • your general dental health,
  • the number of teeth you want to replace,
  • which teeth you want to replace,
  • whether you need extractions, and
  • whether your jawbone requires grafting.

If you don’t need additional procedures and your oral health is up to par the implant process can take around nine months. Here is a quick sum-up of how long each stage might take:

StageDuration
Consultation and treatment planUp to a few weeks to schedule
ExtractionsMight take a few weeks to schedule and up to ten days of healing
Bone graftingMight take up to a few weeks to schedule and can includes up to 12 months of healing
Implant placementA couple of hours
OsseointegrationCan take up to 5 months for your lower jawbone and up to 7 months for the upper jawbone
Healing collarStays in your mouth for up to 14 day
Abutment placementIncludes 2 weeks of healing
Temporary crownYou might wear it for up to 6 weeks while the permanent one is being made
Artificial tooth or teeth placementAt least two dental visits, which can mean a few weeks
Post-procedureA few days to heal, a checkup a few weeks after the final procedure

There are solutions that give you one-day implants, such as the G4 by Golpa. It is an All-On-4 method completed in 24 hours, but not everyone is a candidate for this.

Final thoughts

A dental implant provides the patient with many benefits that other treatments just don’t offer. It is the most durable tooth replacement option. Great solutions can require a great deal of time.

Have you ever gone through this process? Or maybe you’re just considering it? Let us know in the comments below what you are most concerned about the dental implant procedure.