The Dental Implant Process
Depending on the condition of your smile, the complexity of your case, and which types of dental implants you choose, your dental implant process can span anywhere from a few days to several months. Treatment begins with a consultation to assess your needs. Dr. Sean M. Healy and Dr. Diego Hurtado invite you to learn more about what you can expect when restoring your smile with this advanced treatment option. We have offices in Los Alamos, Taos, and Santa Fe, NM, to serve you.
The Initial Consultation
During your consultation, your doctor will evaluate the health of your smile and identify any issues such as gum disease or tooth decay. If you have any preexisting oral health issues, these will need to be resolved before undergoing surgery. We will also perform:
- A medical history evaluation: To receive dental implants, you must be healthy enough to safely undergo surgery. Our surgeons will review your medical history and list of medications.
- Digital imaging: X-rays or computed tomography (CT) images can reveal the state of your jawbone as well as the health of your remaining teeth. If you have suffered jawbone recession, this step can help determine if you need a preparatory bone graft or sinus lift.
Although the dental implant process can span several months, the results of your surgery can last a lifetime.
Preparing for Surgery
Soon after your consultation, we can perform any necessary preparatory procedures. Bone grafting and sinus lift procedures require approximately six months for your jawbone to heal before we can schedule your implant surgery.
Depending on the number of implants you reqiure, surgery traditionally takes one to four hours. Because our practice uses the X-Guide™ tool, you can expect that your procedure will be performed with outstanding efficiency and precision. It helps our surgeons know exactly where to place the implants for the best possible fit and stability.
Traditional implant placement involves six fundamental steps.
Over the next four to six months, your implants will fuse with the jaw in a process called osseointegration. You will have follow-up appointments to monitor this process and determine when you can receive your permanent restoration.
Although the actual recovery time will vary from patient to patient, most patients will be ready to receive a permanent restoration after six months. This is a two-step procedure:
First, you will be fitted for abutments. These devices connect your restoration to your implants. Placing abutments requires making an incision in the gums to access the tops of the implants. Once the abutments are in place, the gums must be sutured in a way that leaves the abutments exposed above the gumline. It will take about two weeks for the gums to heal. Next, we can work with your general dentist to design your custom crown, bridge, or dentures.
Depending on the type of restoration you choose and whether your dentist works with an offsite lab, restorations can take one to two weeks to make. For a full set of dentures, you may need several fittings and appointments to ensure that the dentures fit properly and complement your facial features.
Expedited Treatment with All-on-4
All-on-4 can be an excellent option for patients who have experienced a small degree of jawbone recession and are in need of a full set of dentures. For the right candidates, it can actually eliminate the need for a bone graft. The All-on-4 technique uses four strategically positioned implants to achieve maximum contact between the implants and the remaining bone tissue for excellent stability. Two vertical implants are placed in the front of the dental arch, and two angled implants are placed on either side of the back of the jaw. In many cases, the implants can support a full denture immediately after they have been placed.
Call Us Today
Because every patient's needs are unique, we will pair you with a dedicated dental implant coordinator to answer your questions about treatment from start to finish. Although the dental implant process can span several months, the results of your surgery can last a lifetime. To learn more about the timeline you can expect, call our office nearest you or contact us online.