Dental Implant Surgery

Prosthodontist Neil L. Starr partners with leading oral surgeons in Washington, D.C. to provide patients with dental implant surgery. In order to ensure the best results, his patients are educated in what to expect before, during, and after their dental implant procedure

Preparing for Dental Implant Surgery

Dr. Starr will conduct a thorough examination using advanced technology. The results of his findings will help determine which type of dental implant treatment is best suited to the patient’s needs and desired outcomes.

Prior to dental implant surgery, the patient will be provided with pre-operative instructions regarding diet, prescription medications, and other details. For example, most patients begin a course of antibiotics before surgery. They are also instructed to rinse with a prescribed mouthwash. This will help reduce oral bacteria levels and minimize the risk of infection and other complications.

In general, dental implant surgery takes about an hour or two to complete. However, this can vary depending upon a number of factors.

Patients who experience dental anxiety can benefit from sedation options such as nitrous oxide, oral conscious sedation, or IV sedation. Sedation candidacy is determined on a case-by-case basis. Certain types of sedation temporarily affect cognitive ability and motor skills. As a result, patients who choose this option will need to arrange for a ride to and from the office on the day of surgery.

In some instances, patients may require preparatory procedures. For example, if the patient does not have enough bone tissue in the jaw to support dental implants, he or she will need to undergo a bone grafting procedure prior to their implant surgery. This will add a few months to the treatment timeline as the graft integrates with the jaw.

How Long Does Dental Implant Surgery Take?

Dental implant surgery usually takes about an hour or two to complete. However, this can vary depending upon a number of factors. Generally speaking, patients who require placement of multiple dental implants will require a longer procedure than those who only need one or two implants. The same is true for those who require tooth extraction prior to placement. 

The Surgical Procedure

During dental implant surgery, the surgeon will carefully incise the gum tissues in the targeted location to expose the bone. Using a series of special drills, he will prepare the site. First, a pilot hole is created. Next, the site is gradually widened to accommodate a dental implant. Once the appropriate diameter and depth have been achieved, the dental implant will be surgically inserted into the jawbone. Finally, the surgeon will reposition the gums and close the incisions with sutures.

dental implant

The implant, abutment, and restoration are placed in three different stages.

Is Dental Implant Surgery Painful?

Before dental implant surgery, the gums will be numbed with local anesthesia. If the patient chooses to receive sedation, it will be administered at this time. As the surgery proceeds, a trained staff member monitors vital signs and adjusts anesthesia dosage if needed. Patient comfort and safety are the priorities during dental implant surgery.

After the implants are placed, patients will be provided with antibiotics and pain medications. It is important to take these medications exactly as prescribed. As the numbing effects of the anesthesia wear off, discomfort can escalate. These medications can help alleviate soreness and keep the recovery period steady and predictable.

Generally, any side effects following dental implant surgery subside within 10 days. Increasing pain, signs of infection, or other concerns require immediate attention from Dr. Starr to avoid complications.

What to Expect after Surgery

After dental implant surgery, it takes a week or two for the gums to feel normal. Side effects during this time can include:

  • Minor bleeding from the surgical site
  • Pain near the placement sites
  • Swelling
  • Bruising

The bone tissue will continue to heal and fuse to the implants for three to six months in a process called osseointegration. Dr. Starr provides special implant treatments such as Teeth-in-a-Day®, mini implants, and All-on-4®, 5 or 6 that can often support a restoration immediately following placement. However, traditional implants will need to be fully integrated before they can be restored. Dr. Starr continues to monitor patients as recovery continues to determine when a traditional implant is ready to support a restoration. 

To restore a traditional dental implant, an abutment (small connecting device) must first be attached. This abutment will extend slightly beyond the gum line, and will connect directly to a crown, bridge, or denture. The gums will need to heal for about two weeks after the abutment has been set in place. Once this process is complete, Dr. Starr can begin crafting the restoration.

Dental Implant Recovery Guidelines

After surgery, patients return home to recover, and should plan on resting for the remainder of the day. Patients can often return to non-strenuous work after about three days of downtime. Every patient will be provided with recovery guidelines to ensure a safe and successful outcome:

  • Any unusual or unexpected problems should be reported to Dr. Starr's office immediately. This includes signs of infection, such as hardening or reddening of the gums, or discharge coming from the gums.
  • Food intake should be limited to soft, nourishing foods for a few days after the procedure. This can include pasta, eggs, yogurt, smoothies, pudding, and similar foods.
  • Take extra care not to disturb the incisions when brushing near the surgical site.
  • Applying ice or heat to the outside of the jaw can help to further control any discomfort experienced following the procedure.

Depending on the patient's unique needs, the recovery period can include many other guidelines as well. These will be thoroughly explained prior to surgery.

Contact Our Practice Today

Those interested in learning more about dental implant surgery are invited to call Dr. Starr's office at (202) 293-7177 or contact his practice online anytime. Internationally recognized for his work in restorative and cosmetic dentistry, Dr. Starr maintains the highest degree of professionalism and relies upon advanced tools such as the iCAT cone beam scanner throughout the dental implant placement process. During a consultation, Dr. Starr will take as much time as necessary to answer questions about any stage of the procedure or any other issues pertaining to dental implants.