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FAQ:  Implants

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I'm 24 and I'd like to know how many days does it take to have a tooth implant on my front lower jaw. I have a cavity for years already so I know it's late to save my tooth. What kind of implant is best for me? ...Selene in CA

Selene, if it has already been determined that you must loose a tooth you can often replace it with an implant IF there is sufficiant bone in the area to support the implant. In the lower jaw in the front if you are missing a single front lower tooth, you may not have the room for an implant (only x-rays and models can tell).

Assuming you can support a implant in this area, the normal protocol is to remove the tooth and let the site heal (possibly with a bone graft at the time the tooth is removed) for a few months (4-6 standard). During this time you are given a small removable tooth (stayplate) to wear for cosmetic reasons.

Once the site is ready, the implant is placed and allowed to heal for another 3-6 months depending on the surgeon. Then once everything is ready, the tooth is made to go on top of the implant which has healed in the bone. The whole process can take on the out side, one year.

Many surgeons are now doing implants placement at the time of the tooth removal with some bone grafting and this can quicken up the process to about 4-6 months. It all depends on the bone level, room for the implant, surgeon's philosophy etc.

Bottom line, you will need to have an examination by your restoring dentist and the surgeon doing the implant (this may be the same person). If the tooth in question is surrounded by teeth that have large fillings or crowns, it might make more sense to have a fixed bridge done in the area. Again, this depends on your specific situation.

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