Following a tooth extraction, most people are eager to have that tooth replaced as soon as possible, so functionality can be restored in the mouth. Eating and speaking clearly both depend on having a full set of teeth, so that all oral functions can be as efficient as possible. Many people are also aware that when there’s a gap in your teeth, all the nearby teeth will begin leaning toward that gap, simply because there’s an opening there and it’s a natural tendency. But how long should you really wait after a tooth extraction before installing dental implants? Obviously, some amount of time is necessary for your mouth to heal after the extraction, but when is it safe to proceed with a tooth replacement?
Standard wait time
A good rule of thumb for a waiting time after tooth extraction is anywhere between eight and ten weeks. Of course, the actual wait time will vary from one patient to the next, because every single case is different in some way, and there are always a different set of circumstances involved. Your doctor can give you have a better idea on how long it will take, after conducting a thorough examination of your mouth after tooth extraction.
It’s important that a period of healing follow any tooth extraction, and that the jaw bone and all the surrounding tissues have ample opportunity for recovery. There are some unusual cases where an implant can be installed immediately after tooth extraction, but this will depend on a number of favorable factors. For instance, the patient has to be in very good health, positioning of the tooth must be ideal, the jaw bone must have sufficient mass and strength, and there must be no infection present at the site of the extraction.
It will generally be necessary for someone waiting for an implant to allow sufficient time to pass for both mouth and jaw to heal completely. This might require several weeks, or it might require several months. In cases where it’s doubtful, you’re better off to err on the side of caution and continue waiting until full recovery has been achieved. On the other hand, you don’t want the waiting period to extend too long, because this will allow for bone loss to occur, since there is no tooth in place to stimulate the jaw bone.
So in other words, the absolute best time for installing an implant after tooth extraction is after full recovery has taken place, but before any bone loss begins to occur. If you allow too much time to pass after a tooth extraction, it’s entirely possible that the jaw will become weaker and the bone will become more porous. That will make it more difficult to install a dental implant, because it may be necessary to incorporate bone grafting into the overall procedure.
During your implant surgery
After your dentist has made the determination that your implant can be installed, you’ll need to arrange for someone to drive you home after the implant surgery procedure, after which you’ll also need adequate recovery time. During an implant surgical procedure, an incision is made in the jaw bone, and space is created for an implant screw to be installed. Then the implant itself is installed directly into the jaw bone, and from that moment on, the process of osseointegration begins occurring.
This is a process whereby the titanium post of the implant will begin to fuse with the jaw bone itself, and in a matter of several weeks, the implant will actually become part of your jaw bone. During the recovery period following implant surgery, it may be necessary to use pain medication to get past those first few days afterward. Most patients find it sufficient to use over-the-counter non-steroidal inflammation drugs such as ibuprofen.
For more noticeable pain, you can actually apply ice and then the pain should subside in a few hours. Within three days, any discomfort you’ve been feeling following your implant surgery should also have subsided. It doesn’t take long for patients to start feeling in tip-top health after implant surgery, but it will still take a much longer period for full healing to take place. That’s because the osseointegration process typically requires as much as three to six months before the implant will fully fuse with your jaw bone.
During this period, you should always avoid biting into hard foods such as ice or nuts. It’s better to stick to a softer diet until the healing process is complete, and your doctor has okayed eating normally. You should also be cautious when brushing your teeth, especially in the area where an implant has been installed, so that you don’t disrupt anything.
It’s a good idea to rinse your mouth out with a warm saltwater solution, and afterward applying ice packs to the affected area. Do yourself a favor and pamper yourself a little bit during this time, because you don’t want anything to impact the recently installed implant. For this reason, it’s best to avoid vigorous recreation or sports activities for the first couple of weeks after implant surgery.
Why implants are worth the wait
It may seem like there’s an awful lot involved with having a dental implant installed, and the truth is there is quite a lot involved. However, it’s well worth the wait to have this entire process run through to completion, because a dental implant provides the absolute best possible tooth replacement that you could arrange for. There is literally no better way to replace a tooth, and have it be fully functional the way a dental implant is.
There are some other major advantages to having dental implants installed which make the wait well worthwhile. Since an implant will fuse to your jaw bone and become part of your tooth structure, it actually will last your entire lifetime. That means you can eat and drink anything without the possibility of breakage or shifting inside your mouth
Given the fact that an implant plus artificial tooth performs very much like a real tooth, it anchors and protects the jaw bone. This prevents any kind of bone shrinkage which might occur when you have a missing tooth in your mouth. If you can be patient and wait out the process, you’ll end up with the very best replacement for a tooth you’re missing, or for multiple teeth which you’ve had to replace.