Traditionally most dental implants were placed using a two stage surgical technique. That means you would have two surgeries for just one implant!
The first surgery would be to place the actual implant in the bone. At that time the dental implant would be covered by the gum so it is not visible. That is the part that people refer to as the "screw."
Here is an x-ray example of short implants that had to be buried due to the patients medical condition:
In my office in Burbank, nearly 95% of my patients do not need the second procedure. Not only does this prevent you from needing a second procedure, but it helps reduce the cost. It increases the price, when you have to have two surgeries rather than one. One stage implants help me decrease the cost to patients.
Here is an example of a one stage surgery (note that the implants are taller so they are visible in the mouth):
What makes the determination for one or two stage? It varies, but I find that many dentists and surgeons still do two stages because that is the way they have "always done it." There is a lot of scientific proof to allow the implant to be done in one stage.
The other determination is mostly in how "tight" the implant is when it is first put in. That tightness is very much controlled by the skill and experience of your implant dentist. This is especially critical for dental implants in your upper jaw, where the bone is usually very soft.
I do on occasion use the two stage technique when it is better for your situation. I may do it if I am doing a large bone graft at the same time the implants are being placed.
The most common area of the mouth to use the two stage surgery is the upper back molars. This area has very soft bone so implants in this area may not get as "tight" when first placed.
Having a tight implant also positively relates to the long term success of your implant. I accurately measure how tight or loose your implant is using a torque wrench.
So there you have it… One stage, one surgery if it is predictable for your particular situation.
Please ask questions in the comments section below this post.
Ramsey A. Amin, D.D.S.
Diplomate of the American Board of Oral Implantology /Implant Dentistry