Missing teeth can cause serious health consequences if left untreated, including accelerated jawbone loss and the inability to chew. Whether you are missing one tooth or several teeth, dental implants can help you restore your smile.
What are dental implants?
A dental implant replaces a missing tooth root. A dental implant can be placed into the upper or lower jaw, provided there is adequate bone at the site. If not, different surgical procedures can usually be performed to regenerate enough bone to safely place a dental implant.
Dental implants are one of the longest lasting replacements for missing teeth and have the highest success rate of any implanted surgical device. Because their procedure does not impact healthy teeth and because they reduce bone loss by transmitting chewing forces to the jawbone, dental implants are recognized as the standard of care for tooth replacement by the country’s leading dental organizations.
How long does a dental implant procedure take?
The procedure for dental implants takes 4 to 8 months and involves multiple stages.
- The damaged tooth is removed and bone graft is placed in the empty socket to keep the bone height tall and wide for a future implant. Sometimes, we can place an implant in the extraction socket at the same appointment, but this is only true for select cases.
- The bone graft and/or implant then heal beneath the gum for 4-6 months while new bone turns over in your mouth.
- At 4 months, you’ll return for a new 3D scan to make sure you have adequate bone for your implant (if it has not already been placed).
- You’ll return within a few days or weeks for the implant placement surgery (patients tell us that this is easier than their extraction appointments!)
- Your body is then given more time to heal around the implant (assuming it was not placed on the day of the extraction in which case you can bypass steps #3 and #4). The implant will sit beneath the gums for 3-4 months while it heals.
- About 3-4 months after placement of the implant, you will return for us to uncover it and take an impression to fabricate your new crown.
- A custom-made crown, molded to match your existing teeth, is then screwed into your implant or cemented on top of an abutment. Healthy teeth are not disturbed by this process.
Although the process for dental implants takes longer than other dental processes, it is one that patients find well worth the wait.
Is a dental implant procedure painful?
Most patients report only a slight soreness after implant placement. We will prescribe the appropriate antibiotics and pain medications to help your recovery be as easy as possible.
We understand that some people may be frightened of dental procedures and we offer sedation dentistry to help lessen those fears.
Can dental implants replace multiple teeth?
Yes! Dental implants can replace single teeth or multiple teeth. Just like we can make bridges on teeth, we can also make bridges on implants. Sometimes, you can get 2 implants to replace 3 missing teeth. If you are missing all of your teeth, we can sometimes place 5-7 implants and attach full arch bridges to the implants. In other instances, we can place 2-4 implants to help anchor removable dentures.
What is the difference between a fixed dental implant restoration and a removable dental implant restoration?
A fixed dental implant restoration is permanently cemented in the mouth and cannot be removed by the patient. A removable restoration (like an implant-supported denture) should be taken out at night for cleaning purposes and to give patient’s tissues a rest.
There are several factors that determine which treatment option is right for you. This includes your desires, your oral health, the amount and quality of your bone, and your budget.
Who is the best candidate for dental implants?
The best candidate for dental implants is an adult who is in moderate to good health. The minimum age to receive a dental implant is age 20, or two years after your last growth spurt. There is no upper age limit; we’ve had many patients in their 90s come in for treatment!
Certain medical conditions and other factors may decrease the effectiveness of dental implant treatment, including:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Gum disease
- Low levels of Vitamin D
- Lack of good quality and quantity of bone
It is necessary that you have sufficient bone in your jaw to hold the implant. To determine the amount of bone in your jaw, a 3D x-ray is taken.
It is important to discuss your full medical history with your dentist before beginning treatment. Only a trained clinician can determine whether dental implants are right for you.
How much do dental implants cost?
At Affordable Dental Solutions, dental implants cost only $2,000. This price includes the implant, abutment, and the crown. (Note there may be additional fees for extractions and grafting).
What are some benefits of dental implants?
Dental implants maintain the entire support system for your lower face by preventing the jaw bone from shrinking. They also help maintain your ability to eat, speak, and smile!
Besides dental implants, what are additional tooth replacement options?
The two additional tooth replacement options for patients who do not want or do not qualify for dental implants are crown and bridge treatments or dentures. These options address the short-term cosmetic problem of missing teeth, but do not stop bone loss.
A crown and bridge treatment also requires that two or more healthy teeth be ground down to serve as supports for a bridge, leaving them at a much greater risk for cavities and the possible need for root canals. If the original abutment teeth fail, more healthy teeth must be sacrificed to serve as bridge supports.
Untreated Missing Tooth
- Unattractive appearance
- Loss of chewing function
- Accelerated bone loss
Traditional Crown & Bridge
- Attractive appearance
- Cuts down healthy teeth
- Bone loss under bridge
Dental Implant with a Crown
- Attractive appearance
- Full chewing function
- Prevents bone loss
A Brief History of Dental Implants
Dental implants have been around for thousands of years. Even early civilizations recognized the benefit of tooth replacement. Archeologists have recovered ancient skulls where teeth were replaced by materials such as cast iron and carved seashells. Despite primitive methods and materials, some of these early dental implants actually fused with the bone. This fusion is called osseointegration and is necessary for dental implants to be successful.
Since the 1970s, dental implants have been made out of titanium. Titanium offers the benefit of being lightweight, strong, and biocompatible, meaning that it is not rejected by the body. Titanium is the most widely used metal in both dental implants and orthopedic joint replacement.
Dental Implants Today
Modern dental implants are precision devices, available in several different designs to address a patient’s specific needs. The most common dental implant is a titanium screw that is anchored into the jawbone where it serves as a post for a custom-made tooth crown. It is very difficult to tell a dental implant apart from existing, natural teeth once the crown is placed.
A Beautiful Smile Is Priceless
We can provide the results you are looking for at an affordable price and will make every possible attempt to accommodate your schedule, concerns and financial needs. Smile not only in your dreams, let’s make it a reality!