Dental implants are the leading treatment option for missing teeth. A dental implant replaces missing teeth by using a biocompatible titanium screw surgically inserted into the jawbone. A custom abutment connects the implant screw to a personalized restoration like a crown, bridge, or denture to help create an artificial tooth.
Implants can vary based on the type you need and your dentist. The most common types of dental implants are:
Not everyone is eligible for implant dentistry. For dental implants to be successful, you need to be in good medical health and have optimal bone levels. If you have any chronic medical conditions or inflammation, it can compromise the dental implant healing process.
This means for people who are immunocompromised with cancer, HIV/AIDS, autoimmune deficiencies, and similar may need to discuss other treatment options depending on their condition.
At your first visit, your dentist can determine if you are a good candidate for dental implants with a comprehensive examination. This will include thorough medical and dental histories, a clinical evaluation, and advanced digital imaging. You will also discuss if you need any other surgical procedures like a bone graft or sinus augmentation to ensure sufficient bone to place the implant.
Your surgical process will include your dentist administering local anesthesia, so you are numb and comfortable. Some patients choose to use Nitrous Oxide or General Anesthesia if they have dental anxiety.
You may need a tooth extraction before your implant or at the time of implant placement. Many people also require bone grafting to ensure more support of their jawbone and dental implant.
The dentist will gently insert the titanium implant screw into the jawbone and suture it up so your gum tissue can heal. The implant screw will serve as the tooth root for your new artificial tooth. A post-surgical radiograph will be taken.
Once your implants are placed, it will take several months to heal. During this time, your implant will osseointegrate, or fuse, into your jawbone. Your dentist will carefully monitor you for a few months to ensure you are ready for a custom restoration.
Once properly healed, your dentist will evaluate you and create an impression for the custom restoration. Your healing cap is removed so the dentist can prepare for your restoration.
Whether you need a single crown, an implant bridge, or a full arch denture, you will receive a custom prosthetic that will naturally match your adjacent teeth. Once designed and prepared by the laboratory, your dentist will permanently insert your prosthetic to give you a new, long-lasting smile.
You will need to follow-up with your dentist a few days after the procedure to ensure you’re healing properly and there is no infection. You may need a dental x-ray at one of your follow-ups to determine if the implant is correctly osseointegrated into your jaw bone.
The actual surgical process usually lasts about 60 minutes, depending on how many implants you need. With surgical guides and advanced dental imaging, your dentist or oral surgeon has an accurate idea of where to place the implants for optimal success.
Some dental offices claim they can perform dental implants in a single session. Dental implants in a single visit depend on your bone levels and health. However, many dentists will wait at least 4 to 6 months before attaching a prosthesis, so there is less chance of failure.
Dental implants may be slightly uncomfortable following the procedure. However, your dentist will administer local anesthetic to ensure you are comfortable throughout treatment.
You can expect the following after your procedure:
The dental implant process is not an overnight procedure. It is an oral surgery that will require healing. You can plan for your implant to take up to six months (from start to finish). It may take more depending on your healing process, if you need a bone graft, and if your dental implant properly fuses into the jaw bone.
If you follow your dentist or oral surgeon’s instructions, there is a high success rate for dental implants (up to 95%). The hope is this new artificial tooth will last you a lifetime.
It is 100% recommended and necessary to follow up with your dentist after dental implant surgery. The dentist needs to evaluate if your implant site is healing well and there is no infection.
Also, you invested a lot of time and money into this procedure. This means you will want to determine if the implant is properly fusing, and there is no peri-implantitis. The typical follow-up care for dental implants will usually include:
Implant coverage depends on your individual insurance policy. Many insurances do not cover implants because they are considered cosmetic.
There are also substitution treatments for missing teeth like dental bridges or dentures. These treatments are covered by insurance.
In the case your insurance has implant benefits, you usually have a percentage that will be paid out-of-pocket.
Without dental insurance, implants are a positive investment into your overall well-being and dental health. Costs will primarily depend on:
The average cost of a dental implant (by type) is as follows:
ACP Facts & Figures. American College of Prosthodontists. July 24, 2020. https://www.gotoapro.org/facts-figures/
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