What is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is surgically anchored into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge in place. The benefit of using implants is that they don’t rely on neighboring teeth for support and they are permanent and stable. Implants are a good solution to tooth loss because they look and feel like natural teeth.
Implant material is made from high-grade titanium alloys that are compatible with body tissue. The term “osseo-integrated” is used for these tooth-root shaped titanium implants when they become intimately healed into the jawbone.
How do they work?
Strategically placed, implants can now be used to support permanently cemented bridges, eliminating the need for a denture. The cost tends to be greater, but the implants and bridges more closely resemble real teeth. Mini-implants, similar to conventional implants but much smaller, easier to place, and more economical, can be used in selected areas to help stabilize dentures.
Can anyone receive dental implants?
We can discuss whether you are an implant candidate. You must be in good health and have the proper bone structure and healthy gums for the implant to stay in place. People who are unable to wear dentures may also be good candidates. If you suffer from chronic problems, such as clenching or bruxism, or systemic diseases, such as diabetes, the success rate for implants decreases dramatically. Additionally, people who smoke or drink alcohol may not be good candidates.
What can I expect during placement of conventional implants?
Dr. Black will refer you to a specialist for the surgery to place the “artificial root” into or on your jaw bone. The procedure is done in the specialist’s office with local anesthesia. The gum is then secured over the implant, which will remain covered until it fuses with the bone. The specialist then uncovers the implant and attaches an extension, or post, to the implant. With some implants, the implant and post are a single unit placed in the mouth during the initial surgery. Finally, Dr. Black will fabricate the crown, bridge, or denture, which will be attached to the implant post.
How long does the process take?
The entire process can take up to nine months to complete. Each patient heals differently, so times will vary. After the implant and posts are placed surgically, the healing process can take up to six months and the fitting of replacement teeth no more than two months. During the healing process, we can provide you with a temporary bridge or denture. Sometimes, if a patient has good bone quality, posts can be placed and replacement teeth fitted in one appointment.
What is the success rate of implants?
The success rate for implants depends on the tooth’s purpose and location in the mouth, as well as a patient’s overall health. Success rates are generally higher than almost any other dental treatment, and unlike almost any other type of dental treatment available, it is possible that the implant fixture may last your lifetime.
How do I care for implants?
Poor oral hygiene is a big reason why some implants fail. It is important to floss and brush around the fixtures at least twice a day. Your dentist will give you specific instructions on how to care for your new implants. Additional professional cleanings of up to four times per year may be necessary to ensure that you retain healthy gums.
What is the cost of implants?
Since implants involve surgery and are more involved, their initial cost is more than traditional bridgework. However, the long-term costs associated may be less, as future complications involving neighboring teeth are not an issue with implants. Some dental procedures and portions of the restoration may be covered by dental insurance policies. We will send an estimate of your planned treatment to your dental insurance company, and help you understand your coverage.
Adapted from AGD Oral Health Information