Dental implants are an appealing solution to replace missing or extracted teeth. They are better than other alternatives, like bridges, because no additional teeth need to be altered to place the new, permanent teeth.
The entire implant process takes a few months. The first part of this process is to install the implant itself, which is a screw that is placed into the jawbone. Next, an incision needs to be made in the gums so that the implant can be inserted. Multiple implants can be placed in the gums at once if needed. After the implants are placed, the gums need to be sutured back together.
The implant requires 3-6 months to heal completely. During this time, the jawbone will form around the implant in a process called osseointegration. You can have temporary crowns installed in the meantime so that you can eat and speak normally and maintain an aesthetically pleasing smile.
After the implant has fully healed, it is time to place an abutment, or a base for the new tooth, on the implant. Once this is placed, an impression of the abutment is taken and is used to create your permanent restoration in a dental lab. Some offices have an onsite lab to create the crown, but others will have to send it to an outside dental laboratory. Once the restoration is completed, you can return to the dental office to have the restoration attached permanently. Your smile will eventually look and feel just like it used to!