What Are Dental Implants?
An implant is a titanium core (pin) that is placed in the bone to replace the missing tooth root so that a crown can be placed on top of it to replicate a missing tooth. A post (abutment) must be placed onto the implant prior to making the crown. This post can be metal or it might be tooth colored and made from zirconium.
Problems Fixed By Dental Implants
- Replace one or more teeth like a dental bridge.
- Secure existing dentures to dental bridge.
- Stabilize lower dentures with two implants.
- ALL-ON-4™ procedure uses ridges that are more severely reabsorbed.
Does An Implant Look Like a Real Tooth
When an implant is placed, the esthetics of the implant are dependent on the placement of the implant in the bone and the amount of tissue and bone surrounding the implant and the relationship of the implant to the other adjacent teeth. If the bone, where the implant is placed and where the tooth used to reside, is resorbed then the esthetics can be a challenge unless some bone or gum grafting is done.
Here are examples of esthetic crowns over implants with a metal base for increased strength under the porcelain.
Who Would Be A Good Candidate for Dental Implants?
Your dentist and or surgeon will review your medical history for any possible complications of surgery. A diagnostic x-ray, such as a panoramic film or single digital films, may be taken to assess the amount of bone available to place the implant and the proximity to nerves and sinus areas. A 3-D x-ray may be necessary for final evaluation. A good candidate should be have the following:
- Have healthy gums and teeth.
- Have enough bone density to support the dental implant.
- Does not suffer from uncontrolled diabetes or autoimmune disorders.
- Are non-smokers or are willing to stop smoking during the dental implant process.
- Have already committed to good oral hygiene.
Advantages of Dental Implants
There are many advantages to dental implants and they include the following:
- Maintain normal dental hygiene routine with brushing and flossing.
- No cutting down on good teeth for a dental bridge.
- No possible cavities.
- Feels like a real tooth.
- Long term cost benefits in comparison to a possible bridge or crown.
Long-term, the implant may be more cost effective as a bridge might get a cavity under it. Also, the abutment tooth might crack or the crown might come loose. If the bridge fails then you are back to restoring the edentulous area (area with missing tooth/ root).
Disadvantages of Dental Implants
The biggest disadvantages to implants are cost and time. Yet, many dental insurances pay for part of the cost of the implant or crown over the implant.
Dental Implant Procedure
You will first make an appointment with your general dentist for an evaluation. The general dentist will refer you to a surgeon and work together to develop your treatment plan and cost estimate to achieve an outstanding result.
After a thorough exam and review of your medical history by your dentist, a surgeon is consulted to analyze the area. Other factors to be considered include:
- Do you have an existing tooth that is failing that needs to be removed?
- Does this tooth have infection?
- Do you need a bone or tissue graft prior to the implant being placed?
You can plan on about 6 to 12 month for the final result. After an extraction there needs to be 6 to 12 weeks of healing before an implant is placed. An implant should be in the bone for a minimum of 4 months prior to restoring. If a graft is needed, time is needed for healing. Once the post is placed, typically you will wait 6 to 8 weeks before the final impression for your crown.
How Many Years Do Dental Implants Last?
The key to tooth implant longevity is adequate bone density, good occlusion, and home care. How well you take care of your teeth and gums plays a critical part in maintaining your dental implant. Implants can develop bone loss and periodontal disease around them. It is imperative to take good care of your investment; make sure to brush, floss and water pick in order to keep dental tissue healthy. Some implants may even last a lifetime.
Do Dental Implants Hurt?
Generally, most patients find the placement of an implant uneventful with mild irritation. When larger surgeries are done with bone grafts and multiple implants, the tissue can be a little more uncomfortable, but this will be managed for you with appropriate pain medications.
Will My Smile Look Natural When Restored with a Crown?
Dental implants restored by a porcelain crown can be made to appear very natural. It can often be difficult to tell the crown apart from the natural teeth, resulting in a confident and beautiful smile.
Cost of Dental Implants
A single implant can be similar to the cost of putting in a three-tooth bridge. A few factors that can increase the cost are:
- If you need a bone graft or sinus graft.
- If you need tissue graft or augmentation.
- Aesthetic demands.
There are all ranges of “labs” that make crowns, just like there are all kinds of cars at different prices. There are specialized labs that spend much more time with highly skilled technicians that can make a front tooth look very natural, this sometimes comes with an increased cost.
Due to the cost and care for implant placement, most offices require payment in advance. They will often accept cash, debit, or major credit cards. Some offices will offer CareCredit, a dental financing credit card with typically lower interest rates than with traditional credit cards. You may also use your F.S.A. (Flexible Spending Account) or H.S.A. (Health Savings account) benefit card if you have one set up with your employer.
When it comes to making payments, you might look at financing options. Talk to your dentist about your options. Sometimes the patient can wear the temporary crown for an extended period of time before having to pay for the crown to be made. This can give them a little “breathing room” before having another expense, splitting up the total cost over a longer time.