Traditionally, dental implants are placed in two visits. During the first visit the artificial root is placed, the gum tissue covers the implant and the area is left to heal for a period of three to six months. During this time, a process called osseointegration is taking place. The titanium root is bonding with the jawbone, creating an anchor on which the artificial tooth will be placed. At the second dental visit, top of the anchor is exposed and an abutment is attached. The gum tissue is closed around the abutment, but does not cover the abutment. Depending on the patients ability to heal, swelling in the area and variety of other factors, the dentist may choose to delay placing the crown until after the tissues have healed.
To have the crown placed, a dental impression of the area will be taken, a mold will be crafted from the impression and the crown will be manufactured in a dental lab based on the mold. The crown will be permanently cemented to the implant abutment and the process will be complete.
Immediate loading dental implants are growing in popularity. The term “immediate loading” refers to an implant that is completed in a single dental visit. The root, abutment and crown are placed the same day so that the patient leaves with a new tooth. This technique is commonly employed by dental clinics that also house a dental laboratory. An in-house laboratory is necessary to craft the crown that will be seated on the implant abutment. While the prospect of reducing a treatment that used to span over several months down to a single day seems very enticing, it is not without risks.
Immediate loading dental implants are at a greater risk of failing. The implant has not been allowed proper healing time so there is no integration of the implant to the bone when the abutment and crown are placed. This risk is increased if the implant is used to replace a tooth with more than one root or if the tooth will be exposed to strong biting forces.
The most success is seen with patients who use an immediate loading implant to replace a front tooth. Most anterior teeth are single root. It is also best to place the implant right after the extraction of the tooth. This allows the implant root to immediate fill the void left by the natural tooth root and speeds the healing process.
Implants are the best option for replacing missing teeth. The decision to use an immediate loading technique over the traditional technique should be made on an individual tooth basis.