How long does it take for implants to heal?
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. In general, dental implants require two to four months for the bone to heal (without being exposed to extra forces from biting). 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.
How do I care for my implants?
Proper care of your implants is important to their continued function and good health. While they are not subject to cavities as our natural teeth are, they can develop gum inflammation, and even infection and bone loss if not properly maintained. Whereas localized inflammation and infection around your teeth is known as periodontal disease, a similar process can occur around implants and is known as peri-implantitis. Your dentist should review proper techniques for keeping your implants clean and the surrounding tissues healthy – but above all else, routine brushing and flossing is necessary. Your dentist or dental hygienist may also show you other tools that can help keep your teeth and implants clean and healthy.
Your “new teeth” will require periodic checking by your dentist to ensure the surrounding gums and bone are maintained and healthy. This also requires periodic x-rays to evaluate the level of bone around your implants. The dental restorations attached to your implants will also require periodic checking by your dentist to verify that they are secure and functioning properly.
It is not uncommon for the screws that attach your restoration to the actual implants or abutments to loosen from time to time. This usually entails simply removing the dental restoration, cleaning it and replacing it with new or re-tightened screws. Similarly, if your dental restoration is cemented to the underlying implant, they may also loosen periodically. If this happens, your dentist will need to remove the restoration, clean it, ensure that it is fitting as designed and re-cement it to the implant. While these are minor complications, however inconvenient, they should not be ignored. Allowing the restoration to remain in place when it is not properly attached to the implant can create more significant problems.