Dental implants are metal screw-shaped devices that are surgically placed into your jawbone under your gums. These serve as the base on which your dentist can mount replacement teeth.
How Do Dental Implants Work?
The way dental implants operate has changed over the years, but in every case, they are meant to act like and replace natural teeth, meaning you clean them and eat with them the same as you would your natural teeth.
There are three main parts to a dental implant:
- the root (made from titanium or zirconia)
- the abutment
- the crown
The root is screwed into your jawbone and acts as the anchor for the whole implant. The abutment is a metal device that is screwed into the root. And the crown attaches to the abutment (this is the “tooth”).
Getting A Dental Implant
If you’re considering getting a dental implant, here’s how the procedure may go.
- First, your dental implant dentist will use anesthesia and you will most likely fall asleep.
- Second, the dentist will surgically insert the root into your jawbone and place abutment into the root.
- After you wake up from the anesthesia, your mouth will be sore, you will probably have gauze in your mouth, and be very lethargic.
- As you leave the dentist office and recuperate over the next several days, weeks, and months, the implant will attempt to integrate with your jawbone (this stage is called osseointegration) — the bone will actually grow around the implant, making it very sturdy.
- Your dentist will probably recommend a diet of soft and healthy foods.
- Once the osseointegration process is complete (possibly several months), the dentist can attach the crown to the abutment, giving you the tooth you’ve been expecting. Before that happens, the dentist may give you a temporary flipper tooth so you can eat and chew like normal.
Who Can Get Dental Implants?
If you have good oral health, good overall health, and enough bone to support an implant, you may be a good candidate for a dental implant.
Sometimes a bone grafting procedure may be required. If you have a chronic illness or an autoimmune disease, getting an implant may not be the best option for you. You should consult both your dentist and your primary care physician before getting an implant. Also, if you are a smoker, that can greatly affect your chances of a successful implant.
If your dentist and physician agree that you’re in good health and in need of an implant, it will require that you have meticulous oral hygiene before, during, and after the implant procedure.
Types Of Dental Implants
There are two main types of dental implants: endosteal and subperiosteal (whether it’s a mini dental implant or standard implant). Endosteal implants are inserted into the bone, fusing with it. Subperiosteal implants simply sit on top of the jawbone — these are rarely used anymore because of their poor long-term performance.
In either case, it will require a recovery period that could last several months.
A single-tooth implant replaces the roots of one missing tooth. It doesn’t involve treating the surrounding teeth as some procedures do. This is a good option not just for aesthetics, but also because missing one tooth could change the sound of your speech, make it more difficult to chew, the natural teeth around it can shift over time, and you can even experience bone loss.
The single tooth implant replaces the missing tooth’s roots. A single tooth implant is a stand-alone unit and does not involve treating the teeth next to it.
Implant-Supported Bridges and Dentures
Dental implants can also help support a denture bridge when you have multiple teeth missing (even all of your teeth missing). Rather than getting support from nearby teeth, an implant-supported bridge uses implants as its support system.
Pros And Cons Of Dental Implants
Every procedure has both pros and cons, and dental implants are no exception, although they’re completely safe. Here are the biggest upsides and downsides of getting an implant.
Unlike traditional dentures, dental implants are placed into and integrate with your jawbone. This gives them enough support for the artificial tooth to withstand the same amount of pressure as natural teeth and not slide or shift.
After your mouth has healed post-surgery, dental implants are usually more comfortable than standard dentures or bridges. Implants don’t require any surgery or removal of any teeth except the affected or damaged teeth, as is the case with your typical denture or teeth bridge.
On top of all this, having a dental implant can help preserve the bone in your jaw. When teeth are missing for a long time, the jawbone begins to deteriorate. This can deform your entire jaw and, in turn, your facial structure.
The biggest negative to getting an implant is the cost. Average cost of dental implant is about $1,000-3,000 And in many cases, dental insurance will not cover the procedure as they may categorize it as a “cosmetic” elective procedure.
There are plenty of ways to get free dental implants, like through non-profits, dental schools, and dental clinics. One of the alternatives to dental insurance is a Dental Savings Plan, which can allow you to save between 20-60% on dental care. Contrasted with the fact that dental implant insurance may cover close to nothing, this is a financially smart option for many people.
Unfortunately, dental implants are not perfect. They can fail for a number of reasons, including smoking, an autoimmune disease, or infection. These can also cause the implant to become loose or painful, in either case it may need to be removed.
Dental Implants Near Me
So now you know the ins and outs of dental implants, what they cost, and the different types. But now you may be wondering how and where to get implants.
The best way to find a dentistwho does dental implants is to use our search option, which allows you to find a dentist near you using your zip code.
Although this may seem a bit over the top, it’s a good idea to ask any dentist you contact if they are certified by the American Academy of Implant Dentistry. Believe it or not, but some dentists learned the implant process in weekend course or a short training program. But if they’re AAID credentialed, you know you can trust them to do your implant.
Questions To Ask While Looking For A Dental Implant Specialist
Asking questions is always a good thing, especially when it comes to your surgery.
Below are some questions to ask a dentist before they operate on you — and they should be offended that you’re asking them these questions. They should simply realize that your oral health is important to you.
Questions you should ask:
- Are you an AAID Credentialed implant dentist?
- What treatment options do you offer to restore a missing tooth?
- How many times have you done a dental implant procedures?
- What’s the success rate with your implant patients?
- What’s your education and training background regarding dental implants?
- What are the best dental implant options for me? Why?
- What company manufactures your implants?
- What are the steps in the process?
- What should I expect before, during, and after the procedure?
- Will I have a lot of pain?
- What’s the recovery time?
- Will I go a long time without teeth?
- What are the risks of the procedure? What are the benefits?
- Can I see before-and-after photos of other patients you’ve treated?
Your dentist should voluntarily answer most of these questions in the preoperative appointments you have with them, but it’s good to have this list of questions handy just to make sure you get all the answers. You should feel 100% confident in the dentist and the procedure before going through with it.