The Dental Implant Process: What to Expect

Have you been debating getting dental implants?

Nobody wants to have surgery. It’s normal to be nervous about the procedure and the recovery afterwards. 

Going under the knife isn’t anyone’s favorite way to spend an afternoon. However, the numerous benefits to getting implants is worth it for most people.

If you’ve lost teeth to injury or disease, you could get dentures.

With that route, you don’t have to bother with a procedure or recovery. But, you will have to deal with slipping, soreness, and impeded speech. You have to take them out often to clean, so they’ll always be on your mind. 

On the other hand, after you’ve recovered from dental implant surgery, your new teeth will feel natural to you. They look better than dentures and there’s much less maintenance. 

Though the benefits are huge, you might still be feeling tentative about undergoing surgery. Knowing exactly what to expect can make you less worried and will allow you to make an informed decision as to whether this is right for you.

If you’re considering this surgery, you should understand what the procedure involves. Read on to learn everything you need to know about the dental implant process. 

Before Surgery 

After your initial consultation, your dental surgeon will put together a surgery plan for you. This will be tailored to you and your situation. It will depend on how many teeth you’re replacing, the health of your gums, and more. 

Your surgeon will also give you pre-surgery prep instructions. It’s important to follow these directions to the letter so you have a smooth and successful procedure.

These instructions may include rinsing with an anti-bacterial mouthwash. You could be given antibiotics to take in the days before surgery. Depending on whether you’re going under anesthesia or not, there could be additional directions. 

Before your surgery, your surgeon will explain the process of what they’ll be doing. But generally, most dental implant surgeries follow the same steps. 

During Surgery 

Dental implants require two separate procedures. After the first surgery, you’ll require some time to heal which can be anywhere between six to twelve weeks. 

First Procedure

Depending on your treatment plan, you could be put under anesthesia. Another option is that your mouth is numbed and then you’re sedated for your comfort. 

Once you’re ready, the dental surgeon will make an incision in the gum where the implant will go. Then, a hole will be drilled into the jawbone to make room for a titanium post. 

The post will be inserted and secured. Then, the gum is stitched back up. 

Over the next few months, the bone will heal around the post. This will lock it securely in place. 

You will also have dental impressions taken so crowns can be created. Using a computer model, crowns will be designed so they have the right bite for your mouth. Additionally, they will be made to match the exact shade of white of your other teeth.

Length of Surgery

The amount of time this surgery will take depends on the patient. One consideration is the health of the mouth. 

Another consideration is the number of posts that will be implanted. The more teeth being replaced, the longer the surgery will take. Someone who is getting one post inserted can expect the surgery to be around an hour long. 

Whether or not you are sedated or put under general anesthesia will also affect the time frame. Your surgeon can give you the closest estimate for how long they expect the surgery to take. 

Second Procedure

In the second procedure, your custom made crowns will be secured to the titanium posts. The amount of crowns put in the mouth depends on the needs of the patient. 

You might have one singular crown attached to replace one missing tooth. Another option is a three tooth crown. 

This type of crown might be used if a cluster of three teeth are missing. It can also be used if only one tooth is missing but the surrounding teeth are damaged or diseased. Then those other teeth will be extracted in the first procedure. 

The benefit of have a three teeth crown is that they can support each other making the implants more secure. 

A full arch implant is the final option. This is for someone who needs crowns for the entire upper or lower row of teeth.

After Surgery and Recovery 

After surgery, you’ll be given some time to bounce back from the sedation or anesthesia. When you’re fully awake and coherent, you will get some aftercare instructions. 

Prior to your procedure, you likely arranged to have someone accompany you or to pick you up after. As with any surgery, it’s unsafe to drive yourself home after because you’ll be impaired. 

When you get home, the recovery can begin. 

Medication and Pain Management 

To minimize the risk of infection, you will probably be prescribed an antibiotic. 

Your doctor might also prescribe you some medication to ease any discomfort or pain after surgery. This could be a narcotic or a prescription level dose of Ibuprofen. If you’ve been prescribed something, you will probably want to take it that first day or two.

But, the more posts that were implanted, the longer you can expect to be sore or need the prescribed painkillers.

When the bulk of the pain subsides, keeping up a regiment of over the counter Advil or Tylenol should take the edge off. You can also ice your jaw to keep any potential swelling down.


It’s important to keep your mouth clean after surgery. That means avoiding foods that could get stuck in incision areas, like popcorn or nuts. 

You can brush your teeth to keep things hygienic and get rid of food particles. But, you must be extremely careful and gentle.

The food you eat for the next few days should be soft and require minimal chewing. This will minimize soreness and will keep you from opening up the incision areas.

Save the well-done steak and corn on the cob until your mouth is healed!

You might want to comfort your mouth with a nice, cold milkshake. But be sure to avoid drinking it with a straw, as they can create painful dry sockets. 

Additional After Care 

To deal with any bleeding, you can gently bite down on gauze for 20 or 30 minutes. Don’t exercise or do anything strenuous as that can make bleeding worse. 

But rest assured, the recovery process for dental implants is brief. You should be good to go back to work the next day. 

However, if the next day you’re worse off than you were before, it could be a sign of a complication. 

Possible Complications 

Installing a dental implant is a routine procedure. But every surgery presents potential risks, no matter how unlikely they may be. 

If you’re going under general anesthesia, that presents its own possible complications. It’s important to be upfront with your dental surgeon about your medical history so they can decide if you’re safe to go under. 

You might think that some of your history won’t affect your dental surgery. For example, having a history of seizures might seem irrelevant. But, that can actually affect your risk level in regards to the anesthesia. 

Other complications include infection around the implant. Your body could also end up rejecting the implant. 

It’s important to be aware of these possibilities so you can look out for warning signs. If you do sense that something isn’t going as it should, get back to your dental surgeon right away. 

But again, these are unlikely scenarios. The vast majority of people recover quickly and go on to have a satisfying relationship with their new smile. 

Taking Care of Your Implants 

After your crowns have been put on, you’ll still schedule additional follow-up appointments. Your dental surgeon will want to check on you to make sure that the implants are feeling and looking good. 

Your dentist might give you additional instructions for how to brush and floss around the implanted tooth. But mostly, you’ll be taking care of it like your natural teeth. That means seeing a dentist for a checkup and cleaning every six months

What to Expect From the Dental Implant Process

No one likes to have work done on their teeth. But, knowing what to expect from the dental implant process will set your mind at ease. Once it’s over, you’ll have the beautiful and confident smile you want. 

Want to find out if you’re a good candidate for dental implants? Then request an appointment with us today!


Tyler Basler