How Long is the Procedure to Replace Missing Permanent Teeth?
Most people develop a total of 32 permanent teeth – including four wisdom teeth – by the time they reach adulthood. However, in a certain percentage of people – about 20 percent of all adults – one or more of those permanent teeth does not develop. This is called congenitally missing teeth. The treatment of choice for replacing these teeth is dental implants, since they are the option most similar to natural teeth in structure, function and appearance. So how long is the procedure to replace missing permanent teeth? The amount of time treatment will take depends upon a number of factors, which we’ll explain here.
About Congenitally Missing Permanent Teeth
This common condition occurs when permanent teeth simply do not develop to replace the primary teeth, or “baby teeth.” This is generally an inherited issue – one that tends to run in families. The most common teeth affected are wisdom teeth, and when they are missing, no treatment is necessary, since most people who do develop these teeth have them extracted.
However, in about 5 percent of people, the missing permanent teeth are in positions that make treatment necessary for functional and/or aesthetic reasons. Second premolars are among the more common teeth that fail to develop, which are the teeth just in front of the molars. Other common issues are missing permanent upper lateral incisors, which are positioned next to the two top front teeth, and lower central incisors, which are the two front teeth in the lower jaw. While spacers or a temporary artificial tooth may be placed when primary teeth come out to prevent other teeth from moving into the gap, missing permanent teeth generally are not replaced until growth and development of the jaw is complete, which is around age 18 for females and age 21 to 25 for males.
Replacing Missing Permanent Teeth: How Long Does It Take?
Missing permanent teeth are best replaced with dental implants. This is done by surgically placing a dental implant into the jawbone to serve as an artificial tooth root, which is then topped with an abutment and a natural-looking artificial tooth. If the space necessary for the replacement tooth has been preserved, either by retention of the primary tooth into adulthood or via the placement of a spacer by an orthodontist, the procedure is a fairly straightforward one. The implant is typically placed by an oral surgeon, then left to heal and bond with the jawbone for about 3 months. Then the oral surgeon will attach the abutment in a second minor surgery, and after a short healing period, the artificial tooth will be fabricated and placed by a restorative dentist. All-in-all, the process takes about 5 to 8 months for most patients. If adequate space has not been preserved, orthodontic work is generally necessary to create that space, which can add about 6 to 9 months to the overall treatment time.
Of course, this is a very generalized answer, and treatment time will vary from one patient to another. The only way to get a specific answer on how long your treatment will take is to come into Cumberland Surgical Arts for a consultation. After a thorough examination, Dr. Lee or Dr. DeFelice will be able to give you an accurate assessment of just what your treatment will entail and how soon you can expect it to be completed.
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