Dental implants are best described as the art and science of replacing any or all missing teeth with prosthetic implants. A dental implant is a process also referred to as “implant dentistry”. The most common type of dental implant is known as an endosteal implant and it consists of surgically implanting a titanium anchor into the jawbone. It is implanted beneath the gums to support the realistic looking prosthetic. The implant anchor, or post, will fuse to the jawbone to provide a stable support for a prosthetic known as a crown. Dental implants are very sturdy, do not shift out of place and preserve tooth alignment. They look, feel and function like the natural teeth of a patient.
A GOOD CANDIDATE for dental implants includes:
The following patients are NOT GOOD CANDIDATES for dental implants:
Dental implants are usually performed on an outpatient basis using local anesthetic, sedation or general anesthesia. The process can be a multi-step procedure depending on the patient’s condition. Damaged teeth may need removed and patients with insufficient bone density may need bone grafting prior to implant placement:
An alternative procedure is implant supported dentures. They can increase the stability of the denture and support the dentures from slipping out. These types of dentures cannot be removed by the patient but can be removed by the dentist.
The cost of a single tooth implant is $2000 to $6000. Two to four teeth, using multiple implants, costs from $8000 to $12,000. These price estimates include the dental implant surgery, the implant, abutment and crown. A portion of the cost may be covered by dental insurance if the procedure is deemed to be medically necessary. Therefore, patients are encouraged to check with their insurance provider to see what is covered and what will be an out-of-pocket cost.
RECOVERY after dental implants depends on the number of implants needed, the condition of the mouth and the health of the patient. A person having one implant will have a shorter DOWNTIME than a person having multiple, or full mouth, implants. After dental implants, the patient may experience mild to moderate discomfort but pain medications can help manage the discomfort.
Patients can resume normal activities the following day. Patients should only eat soft foods during the first few days. Patients should not smoke, spit or suck on straws during the healing process. Furthermore, patients should not try to clean the implant area during the first few days but they should clean the rest of the mouth normally. Stitches will be removed at a follow-up appointment after 7 to 10 days. The integration of the implant and jawbone can take 3 or 4 months for the lower jaw and 5 to 6 months for the upper jaw. Little to no downtime is required after the second surgery to expose the implant.
Since dental implants usually require multiple steps, the results will take some time. Patients who had an infection in the gums, and those who needed a bone graft, will have the results delayed even longer. Patients can see results a few weeks after the second surgery once the crowns or false teeth are put in place.
The implants are considered permanent but any misuse of the teeth, such as chewing on hard or inedible objects, can result in damage to the crown. The crown will be very sturdy but can break, chip or crack just like natural teeth. To maintain the results of dental implants, patients should brush their teeth twice a day, floss daily and have regular checkups with the dentist.
The risks associated with dental implants include:
Dental implants can replace a missing tooth, several teeth or an entire arch while providing better function and aesthetics. Patients should be aware there are multiple options available to them when deciding on dental implants. A consultation needs to be scheduled with a board-certified dentist to have their teeth examined. Once the dentist performs a full examination, a decision can be made about the best treatment option to achieve the desired results.
Written by Cosmetic Town Editorial Team- MA
Based on an exclusive interview with Bradley Olson, MD in Waldorf, MD