Dental Implant Procedure: What to Expect: Timeline, Steps, Cost


Dental implant procedure is a surgical treatment used to replace missing teeth with dental implants. In this procedure, the dentist places dental implants into the jawbone. The implants are connected by screws and anchors, which secure them in place. This can allow you to smile with confidence again!

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What are dental implants

Dental implants are titanium or ceramic screws that are placed into the jawline to fill gaps formed by missing teeth, or rotten teeth that require extraction. The screw acts as a root to hold a replacement tooth, or crown, in place. The implant process occurs over several months and leaves you with a beautiful, natural looking tooth. Dental implants can last for up to fifteen years with proper oral care. There are several forms of implants, including single tooth implants and “all on four” or “all on six” implants, in which an implant supports several prosthetic teeth.

Implants fill gaps in the teeth to maintain good oral health

Gaps in the teeth can wreak havoc on the mouth. These gaps can lead to periodontal disease, infections, and even difficulty eating and drinking. When a tooth is missing, the surrounding teeth may begin to shift, causing issues with bite alignment creating further issues with the overall smile. It is important to fill gaps quickly by using a dental implant in order to prevent painful damage from occurring, prevent bone loss, and to restore confidence in your smile and appearance.


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Preparing for surgery

Placing dental implants is a surgical procedure, and the entire process can take anywhere from 3-9 months. If you have missing teeth or teeth that need extraction, start by seeing a dentist to discuss your options for treatment.

Your dentist will help you determine if implants are right for you

An initial consultation is an important part of the implant process. Your dentist will start by determining whether your mouth is healthy enough for implants. The ideal candidate for implants will have no gum disease and enough bone density to support the implant. Some patients require additional bone grafting, which can add considerable length to the treatment process depending on the severity of the case. Bone grafting involves tissue being transplanted to the jaw to strengthen the bone. In some cases, bone grafting can be performed on the same day as the implant surgery. In other cases, several additional appointments may be required.

Finally, during your consultation your dentist will ask questions about your general health and medical history. Patients with certain medical conditions like diabetes may require additional assessment to ensure they can safely undergo implant treatment.

Dental implants are an alternative to bridges, partials, and full dentures

If you are missing teeth, there are several options for restorative treatment, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. Here is a comparison of the most common restorative treatment options:

  • Do not impact the healthy teeth surrounding the implant site
  • Retain their natural look and are one of the longest lasting treatments available
  • Require an invasive surgical procedure that can lead to complications
  • Can take anywhere from 6-9 months for treatment
Dental Bridges
  • Are prosthetic teeth held in place by surrounding teeth
  • Do not require surgery and can have a much shorter treatment time
  • Can impact the health of the teeth they are supported by
  • Must be replaced more frequently than implants
Partial or full dentures
  • Can be full or partial, and may be a good option for patients who have many missing teeth
  • Are removable and must be taken out nightly to clean
  • Typically have a lower upfront cost than dentures, but may need to be replaced more frequently and often require adhesives

It is important to discuss which treatment option is best for you with a trusted dental professional. Your dentist may offer you several options, or suggest the treatment plan they think will best suit your needs.

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The cost of a dental implant varies from case to case

On average, dental implants in Los Angeles will usually cost anywhere from $2800-4000 for the full treatment of a single tooth. Some patients will pay up to $7000 depending on the individual case. This upfront cost is higher than other restorative dental treatments, but also lasts much longer and provides a more natural, permanent solution to missing teeth. The health of the jaw bone and mouth can greatly impact the cost of an implant. If a tooth extraction is required, an additional cost will be added for that procedure. Bone grafting for jaw bones that are not strong enough to support the implant can also increase the cost of the treatment.

Finally, the number of implants and type of implant will also influence the overall cost. Your dentist will provide you with a comprehensive treatment plan at your consultation.

Insurance may help cover the cost of implants

Insurance may cover a portion of implant treatments for patients who medically require them. However, many insurance companies do not cover the cost of implants. Dentists will often offer payment plans to help make implants more affordable.

What to expect during treatment

Dental implants take several months to fully integrate into the mouth. The treatment process can be broken down into four parts.

The implant is surgically placed by your dentist

In order to place the titanium screw, a small incision will be made in your gum to access the jawbone. Next, your dentist will drill holes deep into the jawbone where the implant will be placed. Stitches may be required for some patients and you will be provided with extensive aftercare instructions following the procedure. The placement of the implant post requires local anesthesia at the least, but some patients may choose to undergo sedation. Talk to your dentist about which option is best for you.

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Osseointegration can take up to four months

Once the implant post is placed, the bone and tissue must form around it to hold it in place. This process can take anywhere from two to four months. Once complete, the screw will act as an artificial root for the prosthetic tooth.

Your dentist can offer a temporary denture to cover the implant until it is time to place the permanent fixture.

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An abutment is placed once the implant has healed

An abutment is a metal extension that connects the implant to the prosthetic tooth. Your dentist may need to make a second incision to expose the implant if the gum has healed over top of it. Sometimes, this can be done at your initial implant placement appointment. At this appointment, an impression will be taken to create the prosthetic tooth.

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A crown is placed over the implant for a natural looking replacement

Finally a prosthetic tooth, or crown, is placed over the abutment. Several appointments may be required to comfortably and beautifully fit the crown. Once complete, the gaps in your smile will be completely filled with natural looking teeth.

Implant aftercare

It is important to follow your dentist’s aftercare instructions carefully following each part of your procedure to avoid infection and make healing as easy as possible. In most cases, patients will be asked not to smoke during the healing process, and soft foods are typically suggested for at least a week after your treatments. Swelling and pain should subside after about five days, and can be managed with ice packs, hot packs, and over the counter pain medication. You may also be prescribed medications to assist with healing and prevent infection.

Notify your dentist if your bite feels uneven after the crown has been placed. Follow up appointments are required after the prosthetic tooth is placed

Check-ups are essential to ensure that healing is properly occurring and to catch any complications before they become problematic. At these appointments, your dentist will use tools like radiography to check your bone density around the implant, and look out for any inflammation that may occur. Regular dentist appointments are recommended post-treatment for general oral hygiene with and without implants.


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The information provided on this website are for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for neither professional dental and medical advice nor medical diagnosis and treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist and physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen.

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