After Implant Placement FAQ

What can I use for teeth while the implants heal?

Many options are available, and they are tailored to your specific requirements. If you need a replacement tooth while the implants are healing, temporary removable teeth or a temporary bridge can be made. If all of your teeth are missing, your dentist can usually modify your present complete denture or make you a new temporary denture. If you would prefer non-removable teeth during the healing phase, temporary transitional implants usually can be placed along with the permanent implants, and temporary teeth may be made and inserted the same day. Depending on your particular situation, some implants can be placed and “loaded” immediately. This means a temporary or permanent replacement tooth can be placed on, or shortly after, the day the implant is placed.

A middle-aged man and woman smiling with good teeth

Many options are available, and they are tailored to your specific requirements. If you need a replacement tooth while the implants are healing, temporary removable teeth or a temporary bridge can be made. If all of your teeth are missing, your dentist can usually modify your present complete denture or make you a new temporary denture. If you would prefer non-removable teeth during the healing phase, temporary transitional implants usually can be placed along with the permanent implants, and temporary teeth may be made and inserted the same day. Depending on your particular situation, some implants can be placed and “loaded” immediately. This means a temporary or permanent replacement tooth can be placed on, or shortly after, the day the implant is placed.

What are the potential problems after dental implant surgery?

If you have an immediate concern, and you have recently had implants placed at our office, make sure you refer to your post-operative instruction handout. Most questions can be answered by doing so, but if not, please call the office. In a true medical emergency, please seek emergency care.

Post-Operative Pain

Most people think that having the implant(s) placed is uncomfortable, but for most, there is minimal postoperative discomfort. For most patients, anti-inflammatory medication is sufficient, but if you are taking these medications, please make sure that you don’t get any symptoms of an ulcer. If you frequently take motrin, aleve, or something similar, it may be prudent for you to take something to protect against an ulcer. Check with your primary care prior to initiating any such treatment, especially if you have a history of ulcer, get an upset stomach, or take any medications that increase your risk of bleeding.

Risk of Infection

The risk of infection after dental implants is very low (<1%) and not every patient needs pre or post-operative antibiotics. There is a lot of debate as to the benefits of antibiotics and no definitive evidence supports routine use of them. While most people tolerate a short course of antibiotics, there are reasons not to use them such as increased resistance, hypersensitivity, and GI problems. There are several health issues in particular that will increase the risk of infection such as diabetes, autoimmune disease, malnutrition, so make sure you discuss in detail your general health with your doctor during your consultation.

Injury to Adjacent Structures

We are very well trained and experienced in the placement of dental implants. But just like any procedure, there is a risk to any structure that is near where an implant is placed.

  • Adjacent teeth-the teeth near an implant are supported by bone and the viability of that bone can be compromised even when an implant is placed in a perfect position. Often we will use guidance or x-rays during the surgery to look at this, but nothing eliminates the risk of damage to teeth in the area of implant placement.
  • Sensory nerves — in the jaws, there are nerves that provide sensation to your teeth, lips, chin, gums, and parts of your face. Particularly in the lower jaw, the nerve can be close to the area where an implant would be best placed. While we have a number of strategies to avoid this nerve, even when an implant is placed away from the nerve, there can be compression that leads to numbness, tingling, or injury to the nerve. It is also a common reason that we will use a shorter implant or use augmentation techniques to build up the bone in the area we would like to place the implants. The most important factor in managing numbness is time…if you have numbness after your procedure beyond 12 hours), please let us know. In most people, the numbness is minor and goes away on it’s own, but we will follow you for a period of time after. Very rarely do we need to do anything to fix the nerve, but we need to know about the numbness in order to help manage it in the most appropriate way.
A couple with great smiles

Dental Implants

are the most technologically advanced and longest lasting tooth replacement option available. Restore your confidence… Smile, Eat and Enjoy!

How long will the implants last?

Dental implants will heal to the actual bone itself, a process called “osseo-integration.” This process can lead to significant longevity of dental implants that complete this process. Our expectation is that implants will last for the lifetime of the patient, but as you can imagine, this is related to many factors. In general, it takes about 3 months for an implant to integrate to the bone. Implant failure can be for a number of reasons and is most common within the first three months. Implant failure is most common in people with diabetes, gum disease, lack of hygiene, or from general systemic diseases. Unlike orthopedic prostheses (knee, hip) where failure is expected over time, most patients who have integration of the implants will have restorations that last for the rest of their lives. If an implant does well at 3 months, there is a 95% chance of it being present for 30+ years. If an implant fails within 3 months, it can often be replaced without a significant increase in risk of future failure.

Just like anything, the patients care of the implant is critical to success, as well as general dental care. Your dentist can continue to follow your overall care beyond the 3 months after placement. Any long-term issues will often be easily treated to salvage the implant. Most of the issues are related to irritation of the soft tissue from issues with hygiene, or problems with overloading of the teeth placed on the implants.

When are the replacement teeth attached to the implant?

The replacement teeth are usually attached to the implant when adequate healing has occurred and your jaw bone is firmly fused to the implant. Depending on a variety of factors, it may be possible to begin this phase of your treatment immediately or shortly after implant placement. We will review the most appropriate treatment sequence and timing for your particular situation.

Will one doctor do everything?

Usually, a surgeon places the implant(s) and performs other necessary surgical procedures – your general dentist provides the temporary and permanent replacement teeth. Both doctors are involved in planning your dental treatment. Also, depending upon a variety of factors, different dental specialists may help with your dental care. Often we will work with your dentist to make you a candidate for dental implant placement by doing bone or soft tissue reconstruction. Whoever places your implant, we work as a team to help you achieve your goals.