Americans are increasingly turning to dental implants to replace one or several missing teeth. Conventional implant surgery is a complicated process and usually takes months to complete. The oral surgeon cuts the gum and closes the incision twice after placing the implant and abutment.
This two or three-step approach was the only option a few years ago. Now, a new single-surgery technique can give you secure, permanent teeth in as little as three months. That is, if your gums and bone are healthy and you’re getting only one or two teeth replaced.
Multi-step implant surgery involves placing the implant, letting the implant fuse with bone, attaching the abutment, letting the area heal and finally attaching the artificial tooth on top. One-stage surgery eliminates the second step. The surgeon places a one-piece implant with a metal collar that protrudes above the gum line. After the implant has fused with bone, the abutment and crown are connected to the implant.
A second technique involves attaching the abutment immediately to a two-piece implant with an end that protrudes above the gums. One-stage implants have a similar success rate as two-stage implants, but the former may be appropriate only for certain cases. The success of one-stage surgery relies on technology that improves stabilization of the titanium screw.
When Implants Fail
Dental implants have a very high success rate—more than 90% over a decade. But there’s still a chance of failure. Implants fail for many reasons: the bone is not dense enough, the implant is placed incorrectly, the site is infected or you fail to protect the implant site after surgery.
During second surgery, the dentist can tell if the implant is no good. The implant can be unscrewed easily if it has failed to cling to the surrounding bone. Most of the time there is no infection, and the bone heals over time. You can even try getting implants again after about a year.