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A dental implant is an artificial tooth root surgically implanted into your jawbone. It is a popular tooth replacement option after tooth loss or extraction.
Dental implants have resulted in successful dental restorations for over 30 years. More than 5 million dental implants are placed in the U.S. every year.
The body of a dental implant consists of three pieces that serve different functions:
Dental implants come in two different forms, including:
An endosteal implant (root form implant) is the most commonly used today. It is made with titanium, small screws, and alloplastic material, which refers to an artificial tissue graft.
Endosteal implants are surgically inserted into the jawbone. Over time, the implants bond with the natural bone.
Subperiosteal implants are extremely rare. However, they are a better option for people with insufficient natural jawbones to support endosteal implants.
A subperiosteal implant is placed under the gums (on or above the jawbone). It is not surgically inserted into the jawbone.
There are different types of dental implants available:
A single dental implant is ideal when one tooth is missing, and you want to replace it for aesthetics, comfort, and function. It requires one dental crown that connects to the implant screw.
The average cost of a single tooth implant can range from $3,000 to $4,000.
Implant-supported bridges are ideal for people with several missing teeth. The implant acts as an anchor for the bridge (instead of a natural tooth).
A fixed dental bridge restores function by preventing other teeth from moving. It also improves eating and speaking functions.
An implant-supported bridge costs between $5,000 and $16,000.
All-on-4 implants are recommended when a patient is looking for a secure solution for many missing teeth. This solution restores your entire upper or lower jaw (or both arches).
This is a permanent restoration. However, the overdenture can be removed for cleaning and dental exams.
The average cost ranges from $15,000 to $20,000 per arch.
An alternative to an implant-retained denture is a 3-on-6 implant. It consists of three individual dental bridges attached to six dental implants.
The cost of 3-on-6 implants can range from $10,000 to $15,000 per arch.
Dental implants have their benefits. However, they can also come with disadvantages.
Here are the benefits of dental implants:
Here are the disadvantages of getting dental implants:
Dental implant procedures are a type of outpatient surgery. Patients can return home on the same day of surgery.
The procedure can take many months to complete due to the healing process and artificial tooth (crown) placement. Professionals who can perform a dental implant surgery include:
The procedure is separated into multiple steps, depending on the number of implants a patient needs:
If the damaged tooth is still in your mouth, the dentist will extract it. This step is not necessary if your tooth is already missing.
Patients who undergo implant surgery may have thin or soft jawbones. In this case, bone grafting will be necessary.
It improves the quantity of bone and ensures the procedure doesn’t fail. The healing process for bone grafts takes a few months before a dental implant can be placed.
During the actual procedure, the oral surgeon exposes the bone by cutting the gums.
An oral surgeon or periodontist drills holes into the bone. Then they position the implant (a post) deep into the bone, which functions as the tooth’s root.
If a front tooth is being restored, the dentist will fill the space with a temporary removable solution while the implant heals below the gums. If it is a back tooth, they will not place anything over it.
Osseointegration begins after the metal implant is placed in your jawbone. This is when the supporting bone begins to bond with the implant.
This process can take several months to complete and ensures the base is sturdy enough to support an artificial tooth (dental crown).
After the healing process is complete, your dentist will place an abutment on top of the implant post.
The abutment extends the implant above the soft tissue (gums). This step allows for easy placement of the dental crown.
Once the implant grows into the bone and is strong enough to support chewing, your dentist will make new impressions of your mouth.
A dental technician will create a custom dental crown in a lab. The dental crown looks similar to your natural teeth and sits on the abutment (connector). It becomes the only visible part of the implant.
Pain medications and antibiotics are usually prescribed post-op. It is important to only eat soft foods and practice excellent oral care habits during the healing process.
Restrict the intake of alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco to see the best results. Regular check-ups are necessary during the first few months after the procedure. You should also keep up with regular dental exams post-surgery.
Most implant procedures are successful. However, there is still a risk of incorrect healing.
To reduce this risk, practice good oral health care at home, including proper nutrition, brushing, and flossing.
As with any dental surgery, minor discomfort is normal. Common side effects(that aren’t threatening to the implant) include:
More serious complications that can develop after an implant is placed include:
Dental implants cost between $1,000 and $4,500 per tooth.
Some insurance plans cover dental implants, while others do not or only cover part of the procedure. For example, some dental insurance plans may cover the crown attached to the implant.
Some medical insurance plans will cover part of the surgery if the procedure is medically necessary.
You will most likely experience minor pain after surgery, but over-the-counter pain relievers can help reduce discomfort.
The pain should diminish after about a week. However, the implant can take up to 6 months to fully heal.
Implant dentistry has been practiced for over 50 years.
Dental implants are a safe and successful tooth replacement treatment option when done correctly and by the right specialists (e.g., periodontists and oral surgeons). Most people who get implants do not experience any problems, and the procedures have a high success rate.
If you take care of your replacement tooth and practice good oral hygiene, it can last between 15 and 25 years, sometimes longer. Some people get their implants replaced earlier due to cosmetic concerns.
In the U.S., more than 5 million dental implants are placed every year.
It is estimated that about 5 to 10 percent of dental implants fail.
The most common reason for failure is unsuccessful osseointegration (which means the implant has not bonded correctly with your jawbone). Other causes include allergic reactions, tissue damage, infections, sinus problems, smoking, and body rejection.
Symptoms can include a loose or shifting implant, swollen gums, gum recession around the restoration, severe pain near the implant, and difficulty chewing.
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