There are 4 basic options for tooth replacement: 1) No treatment 2) Bridge 3) Removable denture 4) Dental Implant. Your dentist will offer their insight as to the treatment option that is best, which will vary on a case by case basis. Taken into consideration before the dentist and patient choose a treatment option together include but are not limited to overall health, function, restorability, esthetics, oral hygiene, finances, lifestyle, and patient preference.
Please note that the actual process may take 3 months to over a year.
The process may begin with dental impressions, jaw relation measurements, and x-rays that may include a cone beam CT to accurately measure the amount of bone in the area. Your dentist may also refer your case to an Oral Surgeon or Periodontist depending on the case difficulty.
If the patient presents with a missing tooth, bone loss may have occurred and bone grafts may be required. A dental implant requires a certain amount of bone to hold it in place. The time for a bone graft to heal may take up to 3-12 months.
If the patient presents with a tooth that needs to be taken out first, this may require 3-4 months of healing prior to implant placement. Your dentist or surgeon may place a bone graft at the time the tooth is taken out if necessary. Or, your dentist or surgeon may even place an implant at the time of tooth removal. Your dentist will determine if this "immediate implant" is recommended for you. There must be no signs of infection prior to immediate implant placement.
Once an implant is placed, it takes 3-4 months to osseointegrate, or heal and lock in with your bone. At this point, your dentist will take an impression and a dental lab will fabricate your new crown. You may have heard of implants and the crowns that are all placed the same day. This is termed "immediate loading" of immediate implants. This is not recommended for most cases because forces from chewing, biting, and grinding that are placed on an implant before it has osseointegrated after 3-4 months will result in the failure of the implant; the implant will not lock into bone and may be loose, inflamed, and painful. The implant will then have to be removed and the process started all over again.