Implant supported denture implants are placed in the bone of your jaw towards the front of your mouth. This is where you have the greatest amount of bone in your jaw and this area has fewer nerves that could affect the placement of the implants. Healthy and sufficient bone is required for any dental implant procedure, so your doctor will first verify that you have enough bone for dental implants. Tooth loss leads to bone loss where the missing tooth or teeth are, so it is important to make certain there isn't too much bone loss. If there is significant bone loss, bone grafting can be done to the area and in time will hopefully provide enough bone in your jaw to sustain an implant. The time frame to complete the actual implant will vary but six months is common. It may take less time if the dental implant is being placed in your lower jaw and more if in the upper jaw. Bone grafting could add as much as six months to the overall time.
After you've made the decision to have a dental implant supported denture, your dentist will take X-rays and create impressions of your teeth. A computed tomography (CT) scan of your mouth to determine the exact position of your sinuses and nerves is common. This will also show that enough bone is available serve as a guide for the ideal locations for the dental implants. From the impressions of your teeth and gums your dentist will make a temporary denture.
The dental implant procedure involves two surgeries. The first will be to place the actual dental implant and the second will be to expose the top of the implant. After the first surgery the implant itself will be below your gum and not exposed. There are "immediate load" implants that comprise of only one surgery where the implant is placed and the supporting bar is placed in one step. This is becoming more common and has a high rate of success.
For the first surgery an incision is made in your gum where the implant will be placed. A hole is then drilled in your jawbone and the implant is placed into the hole. The incision in your gum is then stitched closed. After three to five weeks you can wear your temporary denture. Your dentist will give the denture what is called a "soft reline" which is to provide a new lining next to your gums. Over the next four to five months the implant will attach and fuse (Osseo integration) to your bone and the second surgery will be scheduled.
Once your dentist confirms that the implant is well fused in the bone, the second surgery will be to uncover the tops of the implants. A collar called a healing abutment will be placed on top of each implant head. The collar promotes proper gum growth and will be worn for about two weeks. At this time your temporary denture may need another adjustment because of the abutments. About two weeks after the surgery you'll have the healing abutments removed and the regular abutments will be placed. Another impression will now be done to make a model of your mouth with the abutments in place. Your new denture will now be made. A bar will be placed on the dental implants and your new denture will be placed to see if the fit is correct. The denture will not yet have the teeth attached. If the try-in of your new denture shows a proper fit, the teeth will be attached and the whole denture will be tried-in. If all is well the denture will be attached to the bar or ball attachments (depending on the type) and will be secured. You will want to save your temporary denture and have it relined at this point to keep as a back-up denture.