As we’ve been reporting, our modern technology makes many types of dental treatments faster, easier, and more comfortable. This is especially true for dental implants! Winchester Dental is proud to offer immediate implant placement, which typically reduces the number of surgeries you might require, and can also be beneficial in other ways. What is this procedure, and how does it work? Dr. Frank Mitchell, DDS and Dr. Kelly Richardson, DDS explain.

Computer rendering of screw-retained implant

What is an implant?

A dental implant consists of a titanium alloy screw, which replaces the root of a missing tooth. A restoration is placed atop an implant or implants. Dental crowns and bridges are examples of restorations.

Why might I need a dental implant?

When a tooth is missing or is not restorable, we might recommend an implant. Breaking, severe decay or erosion, or accidental loss of teeth may all result in the need for dental implants. “When teeth are not restorable,” says Dr. Mitchell, “then we look at options. The best option in dentistry today is an implant-supported crown or advanced bridge work for multiple teeth.”

Is a dental implant better than a removable appliance?

Natural teeth hold and maintain bone in the mouth. When teeth are missing, the bone that remains can weaken and erode over time. Dental implants help maintain the bone structure by acting as teeth do and allowing the remaining bone to grow around them. In contrast, removable appliances do not support the available bone. Over time, this lack of support could compromise the site where an implant could be placed.

What is the typical implant process? How does it proceed, and how many visits does it involve?

During the typical implant process, your dentist extracts a tooth and does a bone graft, and you return to have the implant placed. It is important to remember that this process may not be the same for every patient. “The number of visits depends on individual factors, such as how many teeth are involved, and the type of restoration to be placed atop the implant or implants, such as a crown, a bridge, or dentures,” explains Dr. Richardson.

How does immediate implant placement differ from the typical process for implants?

During the immediate placement process, teeth are extracted and implants are placed during a single visit. A gentle touch is essential. “Technique is important here; the extractions must be done as delicately as possible. I always think about what I would want in the patient’s position. In the past, we’d completely expose the bone, but now we don’t. This process is more conservative. It allows us to maintain the blood supply to the bone, which helps reduce the risk of infection, and provides faster healing and better results,” says Dr. Mitchell.

What pain relief measures do you use during this process?

Our available pain relief measures during immediate implant placement are similar to those we use during the traditional implant process: steroid injections, local anesthetic, and more and more frequently, platelet-rich fibrin (PRF). “PRF is frequently an integral part of this. It dramatically accelerates healing!” Dr. Mitchell explains.

Which modern dental technology makes immediate implant placement possible?

Our dental CBCT unit, which allows us to take detailed 3D images of your entire craniofacial region, is a key to optimized implant planning. The imaging process takes only a few minutes, and is painless and safe, with radiation levels one thousand times less than those emitted by a conventional medical CAT scanner. See our technology page for more information.

What kinds of timeframes are involved in immediate implant placement?

While the length of an office visit for this type of treatment varies depending on each patient’s individual situation, the overall treatment timeframe diminishes from nearly a year to a matter of months.

After immediate implant placement, how long would I have to wait before returning for restoration placement (such as a crown) atop the implant? Is there a long healing process?

The healing process depends on bone quality, healing, bone density, and integration speed. The upper arch of the mouth is part of the skull and takes longer to heal—sometimes up to six months. Everyone is different as far as how well they receive this procedure. The lower jaw frequently heals faster and sometimes will heal within three months, allowing your restoration treatments to proceed.

Is immediate implant placement available to every patient who needs an implant after an extraction?

“As with many other treatment options, immediate implant placement depends on each patient’s needs,” says Dr. Richardson.