Dental Implants

The most widely practiced method of placing dental implants is a staged surgery procedure. The first stage consists of surgically burying the implant (which replaces the tooth root) flush with the bone but underneath the gum (step 1 in diagram). This protects the implant from force while it is healing to encourage successful osseointegration. At the end of this healing period, the implant needs to be surgically exposed by removing some of the overlying gum (step 2 in diagram).


During the next stage (step 3 in diagram), the surgeon checks the implant for its successful integration and connects some form of post which penetrates through the gum into the mouth. This post is called the abutment. Abutments come in many forms and can be stock-manufactured or custom-molded by your dentist and a laboratory. The gum is allowed to heal around the abutment and form a cuff or collar through which the dentist has access to the implant when preparing the final restorative stage of placing the prosthetic tooth or teeth (step 4 in diagram).

Research has shown that it is often possible to place a suitable abutment at the same time as the implant. This has certain limitations but can eliminate the need for a second surgery to expose the implant. However, the implant still requires adequate healing time for the bone to osseointegrate.

The abutments must also be protected from chewing forces during this period to assure effective bony integration and successful healing. Once the implants have had a chance to heal and have been tested for successful integration, the final restoration step takes place. This consists of fabricating and connecting the prosthetic teeth to the successfully osseointegrated implants.

In general, dental implants require 2-4 months for the bone to heal (without being exposed to extra forces from biting). Healing times for implants vary depending on the quality of the patient’s bone and are often extended in cases where performing adjunctive procedures is necessary.

Is it possible for implants to be placed in one day?

Research into the mechanisms of bone attachment to titanium has improved the healing process to the point that some implant manufacturers can claim greatly shortened healing times for their products—but this is generally not the norm. In recent years, research has demonstrated that in certain controlled circumstances, dentists can immediately load implants (connect prosthetic teeth) either the same day or shortly after they have been placed. While this is becoming increasingly common, most cases require a healing period of two to four months before the prosthetic restoration can be finalized.

Information credit: Academy of Osseointegration