Is a Dental Implant Right for Me?
Nothing can take the place of a healthy set of natural teeth. But when disease or an accident ends in tooth loss, it’s good to know that there are options for restoring your smile. You may want to choose dental implants if you:
- Are self-conscious because you have missing teeth
- Wear dentures that are uncomfortable
- Are unsatisfied with your removable partial dentures
- Do not want to have intact tooth structure removed to have a fixed bridge placed
What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is essentially a replacement for a lost tooth root. A dental implant is a metal (titanium) post that is surgically positioned into the jawbone below the gum line. Once healed, a replacement tooth, bridge, or full set of dentures is mounted to the post(s). The implant(s) securely holds these teeth, which are not removable and function like natural teeth.
What are the benefits of dental implants?
- Dental implants are a permanent solution for missing teeth.
- Dental implants look and feel like natural teeth.
- Dental implants provide improved speech compared to dentures. Dentures can slip causing you to mumble or slur words. Because implants are permanent, they cannot slip.
- Once healed, there is no discomfort like a removable denture can cause.
- Because dental implants function just as your natural teeth, they don’t interfere or cause pain while eating.
- Dental implants provide improved oral health.
- Dental implants help preserve healthy adjacent teeth, there is no additional pressure on adjacent teeth or gums.
- Dental implants can prevent bone loss and preserve facial appearance.
- Unlike a removable denture, dental implants do not require periodic adjustments.
How is an implant placed?
Implants are surgically placed under the gum tissue and are inserted into bone.
How will I know if dental implants are right for me?
You will have an examination and consultation with the doctor to discuss your condition and your needs. We use state of the art equipment in order to help determine if dental implants are right for you; this conveniently includes an in-office 3-D scanner.
What’s the best option for replacing a lost tooth?
If a natural tooth is lost, it is best to replace the tooth with a non-removable replacement (dental implant) as soon as possible. Natural teeth are supported by roots. When you lose a natural tooth, you also lose the root, which causes the overall root-support in the mouth to decrease. If the remaining teeth are used as supports, those natural teeth become weaker because of the extra stress placed on them. If a dental implant is used, the natural teeth are not weakened because the dental implant replaces the missing root structure.
Is a partial denture just as good as a dental implant?
Partial dentures are either supported by teeth or by teeth and gums. While a partial denture fills the space, the supporting teeth become weakened due to the additional stress put on them. With many partial dentures that are tooth and gum supported, the gum tissue and bone structure beneath the denture will shrink gradually resulting in the denture needing to be replaced or realigned. If space develops under the denture, the natural teeth are overloaded because they are carrying all of the chewing load. This will cause the remaining natural teeth to undergo accelerated bone loss. Also, a partial denture is not permanently fastened to the mouth; however, a dental implant can be used to support a partial denture that is loose or does not fit well.
If I’ve lost a natural tooth, can a dental implant still be an option?
When a natural tooth is lost, the tooth-supporting bone is also lost over time. Gums and the bone under the gums can shrink. In order to place a dental implant, a certain amount of bone must be present. If bone loss has occurred, then a dental implant may no longer be an option or a bone graft may be required in order to build up the bone; however, this can add additional time and cost.
Do I need a bone graft following tooth removal?
To reduce the risk of bone loss, bone can be added following tooth removal. It takes about three months for the added bone to be replaced by new bone growth. This increases the likelihood of having adequate amount of bone for a dental implant.
Can a dental implant help prevent bone loss caused by the loss of a tooth?
A properly placed and maintained implant can preserve bone. Dental implants can stimulate bone similar to natural teeth. This will help the body retain healthy bone levels.
What information do I need to provide?
We will need your complete and accurate health history. It is important that we are made aware of all your ongoing medical conditions. Your medical conditions can affect the healing of implants and is also related to how long they will last.
Do dental implants affect eating?
With every natural tooth that is lost, chewing efficiency decreases. Implants and non-removable bridgework provide the best chewing efficiency next to natural teeth.
What are the risks?
There have been cases published in dental literature where a temporary loss of nerve sensation has been reported following certain surgical procedures. While not likely, this could happen when an implant is placed in the bone. However, it is usually temporary and is a loss of nerve sensation only. This would not cause the face to to droop or sag.
Are all implants successful?
Implants can fail for a variety of reasons. The patient must be healthy and their body must have the ability to heal itself. A proper diagnosis must have be made, and the correct implant procedure selected for that individual patient. And the patient must properly care for the implant while healing.
How long do implants last?
When oral hygiene is properly maintained, a dental implant can last many, many years (possibly as long as 30 years). However, the crown placed on top of the dental implant is expected to last 10 to 15 years (depending on the patient’s dental hygiene habits this could be extended or shortened).
Does my age matter?
Age is not a factor; health is the determining factor.
Can an implant be rejected by the body?
Dental implants are made of biologically compatible materials such as titanium and have been extensively tested. Because the materials have never been living tissue, it is unlikely to cause an antigen-antibody response.
Do dental implants cause cancer?
There have been no reports in dental or medical literature of dental implants causing cancer.
Can implant success be guaranteed?
As with any medical or dental procedure, we cannot guarantee success.
How much does a dental implant procedure cost?
There are many factors that have to be considered including the number of implants needed, the position of implants, and the purpose of the implants. Please call our office and schedule a consultation to determine your cost.
Are implants covered by insurance?
Some or portions of implant surgeries may be covered by dental insurance policies. Our office can assist you in obtaining these benefits.
Is dental implant surgery painful?
As with any surgery, there is likely to be some discomfort. During the surgery, the use of anesthetics and/or sedation virtually eliminates pain. You can expect postoperative pain to be similar to that of having teeth removed (swelling, discomfort, and possibly some bruising). Patients may be given a prescription to manage pain.
How long is the process?
This depends on the extent of the work involved. We can provide this information to you during your consultation. With that said, the entire process usually takes about three months. Individual surgeries are typically less than an hour. We then allow time for adequate healing; you can expect follow-up visits during this time.
Do I need to take time off work?
This is up to the patient; however, we recommend not working on the day of surgery. Depending on the patient, an additional day or two may be beneficial.
How do I maintain dental implants at home?
It is important to keep implants and natural teeth clean. You must brush and floss daily in order to keep plaque off teeth. Avoid smoking and/or excessive alcohol consumption as they are a deterrent to excellent oral health. You should not grind or clench teeth. Avoid chewing hard objects such as ice, which can even damage natural teeth. You should avoid any activity that could cause damage to implants or the underlying bone, such as full-contact sports.