Dental Implant Basics
Missing teeth may make you not want to smile. Even if smiling isn’t a problem, missing teeth can affect how you speak and chew. If left for too long, adjacent teeth begin to drift, making it harder to clean and creating more space for plaque. There exist, however, many options to replace missing teeth and fix that gap in your smile.
Rather than resting on the gum line, like removable dentures or using adjacent teeth as anchors like a dental bridge, dental implants are surgically placed into the jawbone where they act as an anchor for replacement teeth. A dental implant looks and feels like a natural tooth, allowing you to chew and speak just like you did before.
Single Tooth Implant
A single tooth implant procedure may be done if a tooth has been extracted or is missing. A titanium implant base is placed into the jawbone to resemble the tooth root. After a period of time to allow for the jawbone to heal, an abutment is screwed into the base of the implant to allow for a crown to be fitted on top. Finally, a custom fabricated crown is placed over the base to function like a real tooth.
Multiple Tooth Implants
Multiple tooth implants are handled the same as single tooth implants. Titanium implant bases are placed into the jawbone to resemble the missing tooth roots. After a period of time to allow for the jawbone to heal, abutments are screwed into the base of the implant to allow for crowns to be fitted on top. Finally, custom fabricated crowns are placed over the base to function like real teeth.
Full Arch Implants
Implants can be crafted to replace the full arch of teeth. Titanium anchors are strategically placed throughout the jaw, and a denture-like fitting attaches to the anchors. Once placed, full arch implants function just like natural teeth.
Dental Implant FAQ
An implant is a tooth replacement option that involves placing a new "root" into the bone of your jaw. Once this titanium "root" has infused with your bone it can be used to support a crown, bridge, or denture.
Dental implants, unlike other types of therapies, are permanent. They preserve the contours of an existing smile, and protect adjacent teeth against drifting and gum disease. Unlike other therapies, no neighboring teeth need to be altered to accommodate the implant.
If you are missing one or more teeth and are in generally good health, you are likely a candidate for dental implants. The two qualifying factors are: (1) quality and quantity of bone for implant placement, and (2) uncontrollable diabetes or other medical conditions. In general, there are few conditions that would prevent a patient from being a candidate for dental implants. Even if you have lost a significant amount of bone, bone can often be added or created to form a suitable base for implant placement.
Provided you meet the above criteria of being in good health and having a sufficient amount of bone, age is generally not a factor.
Treatment may take as little as one day, or as long as several months. The determining factor is the quality and quantity of bone available for the implants. Typically, the anchor is placed and we wait several weeks to allow the area to heal and set before attaching the crown. However, in some cases, patients may qualify for Immediate Load / Immediate Function procedures, also known as "same day implants".
The procedure is no more painful than a root canal or tooth extraction. Most patients are comfortable with a local anesthetic, but sedation dentistry (link) is available for those who are more anxious.
Dental Implants are designed to be permanent, however, everyone is different, and an implant’s duration can be affected by how the body responds to the implant, and proper oral care. Implants have been around for over thirty years, and have success rates over 95%.
Every situation is unique, and we can sometimes modify existing dentures to accommodate implants.
Care of single implants are the same as natural teeth – daily brushing and flossing, and regular dental visits. Care of full arch implants or other permanently fixed implant supported replacement teeth may require special brushes and floss. If a specialist installed the attachment, they may wish to see you annually, in addition to your regular dentist.
Like other medical treatments, the cost of implants varies based on each patient’s unique needs. So, in order to provide an accurate estimate, we encourage patients to come in and receive an evaluation. The number of implants required and the condition of underlying bone are significant factors in cost.
The total fee is usually comparable to other methods of tooth replacement; however, long-term, implant treatment is generally more cost effective than other options, such as bridges, partials and dentures that need to be replaced every 5-10 years.
Dental insurance coverage for implants depends on the details of the dental insurance policy. Most plans only cover basic preventive maintenance, basic care and emergency costs, with an annual maximum of $1,000 to $1,500.
Most insurance plans will not cover the full cost of implants, however, they will usually cover the same benefits they would for an alternative treatment (partials and dentures), and some of the diagnostic requirements. A few medical insurance plans cover dental implants, so it is best to check both your dental and medical insurance. Medicare does not cover dental implants.