When it comes to replacing missing teeth, dental implants are the gold standard. With adequate care, a dental implant can last upwards of twenty years. In addition, dental implants are the only tooth replacement option that stimulates the jaw bone, which prevents the bone loss and facial sagging that are typically caused by missing teeth. But how long is the dental implants process?

Of course, rebuilding a tooth that fully mimics the real thing can be time-consuming. Under perfect circumstances, dental implants Downtown Los Angeles surgery can be completed in about three months. However, elderly patients, those with health conditions that slow healing, and patients who have already experienced bone loss in the jaw can expect the process to take closer to nine months. 

How long is the Dental Implants Process?

Depending on the approach your periodontist in Los Angeles and the state of your jawbone, placing a dental implant requires between three and six separate visits. Some of the steps can be done in quick succession, but at least one will require a significant healing period. Let’s take a closer look at what you might expect during the process.

Step 1: Your Initial Consultation

It is important to replace missing teeth in a timely fashion. An open gap will:

  • Allow your other teeth to move
  • Weaken the support structure of nearby teeth
  • Increase your chances of developing gum disease
  • Cause localized bone loss in your jaw bone over time

As a result, your dentist will want to discuss replacement options as soon as possible. They will likely give you a range of options, ranging from removable dentures, to fixed bridges, to dental implants. At this stage you will want to have a candid conversation with your dentist about what option is best for you given your age and oral health. 

Step 2: A Bone Graft, if Needed

If your x-rays reveal signs of bone loss, then you may need a bone graft. A dental implant is drilled directly into the jaw, and there’s a much higher chance of failure if the bone is already weakened. To place a bone graft, your oral surgeon will open up your gum to expose the jawbone. A small piece of synthetic bone material will then be affixed to your natural bone. 

After surgery the slight damage to the bone from the procedure will encourage your jaw to remodel. The graft creates a support system for this new growth, allowing your jawbone to return to its natural strength as the graft is integrated. You can expect this process to take about three months, but it does drastically increase the likelihood that your dental implant will function as intended. 

Step 3: Placing the Post

Once your x-rays show that your jawbone has recovered, it is time to place the post of your dental implant. The post mimics the natural root of your tooth, and it is drilled directly into the jaw bone to give the prosthetic the same strong support structure as the rest of your teeth. In ideal conditions, it takes about six to eight weeks for the jaw bone to completely grow around the post, providing all the security you need to talk, chew, and laugh as you normally would. 

Step 4: Placing the Abutment

It is increasingly common for periodontists to place abutments at the same time as the post. In fact, many will also put prosthetic teeth in place, allowing for patients who don’t require bone graft to essentially achieve new teeth in a day. However, some experts still prefer to attach the abutment separately. 

The abutment is the connection between the post and your prosthetic tooth. It essentially acts as a secondary support structure. The abutment prevents the tooth from moving, while the post anchors it securely in the jaw. At this stage, it is quite common for your dentist to take impressions in order to create your prosthetic teeth. They will also help you to choose a natural-looking color for your new teeth.

Step 5: Placing Your Customized Prosthetics

Although prosthetic teeth can be made from many materials, ceramic is one of the most common. Ceramic is a sturdy material that is ideal for matching the look of natural teeth. Once your customized prosthetics are in place, the process is complete. 


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