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Dental Implants FAQ

A Implant dentistry is the branch of dentistry that involves installing an artificial tooth into a patient's jaw in order to replace or restore a missing tooth.

Dental implant surgery is an option to get artificial teeth. Learn about the surgical process, types of artificial teeth, and benefits and risks of the procedure.

Here's a look at the dental implant surgery procedure questions.

What is implant dentistry?

Dental implants aren't the same thing as artificial replacement teeth. Dental implants are actually the threaded metal cylinders that serve as the roots of missing teeth. The implant, sometimes called a post or cylinder, is surgically implanted in the jawbone beneath the gum tissue. An abutment, or extension, is attached on top of the metal cylinder. Finally, a realistic-looking artificial tooth (crown) is attached to the abutment, creating a three-piece device that completes your smile. You may have one tooth replaced with dental implant surgery or many.

Most healthy adults with missing teeth are able to have dental implants. Your dentist, oral and maxillofacial surgeon or periodontist can help you decide if dental implants are a good option for you.

Is dental implant surgery for me?

In general, dental implants may be right for you if you:

  • Have one or more missing teeth

  • Have a jawbone that's reached full growth

  • Have adequate bone to secure the implants, or are able to have a bone grafting procedure

  • Have healthy oral tissues

  • Don't have health conditions that will impair bone healing

  • Are unable or unwilling to wear dentures. We now offer Single Day Implants for denture wearers. Click here to learn more.

  • Want to improve your speech

Can Anyone Get Dental Implants?

In most cases, anyone healthy enough to undergo a routine dental extraction or oral surgery can be considered for an implant procedure. Patients should have healthy gums and enough bone to hold the implant. They also must be committed to good oral hygiene and regular dental visits. Heavy smokers, people suffering from uncontrolled chronic disorders – such as diabetes or heart disease – or patients who have had radiation therapy to the head/neck area need to be evaluated on an individual basis. If you are considering implants, talk to your dentist to see if they are right for you.

Is the concept of dental implants a new one?

A Modern implantology began in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century. However, popularity really grew in the 1980’s with the increased success of the titanium cylinder. Since then, many brand name implants with minor variations have been approved.

Why are the screws made of titanium?

Because titanium has the unique property of fusing with the bone tissue through a process of integration, and therefore becomes like a part of the body in the process. This gives the dental implant its extreme strength of attachment.

How is dental implant surgery done?

Placement of dental implants and artificial teeth involves surgical procedures usually done in several stages. The entire process takes three to nine months, or sometimes even longer. That may sound daunting, but a lot of that time is spent on healing and waiting for the growth of new bone in your jaw. Click here to learn more about the complete dental implant placement procedure.

When is the Bone Grafting Required?

If your jawbone isn't thick enough or is too soft, you may need bone grafting before you can proceed with dental implant surgery. That's because the powerful chewing action of your mouth exerts great pressure on your bone, and if it can't support the implant, the surgery to replace your teeth would likely be a failure. A bone graft can create a much more solid base for the implant.

With bone grafting, a piece of bone is removed from another part of your body, such as your hip, and transplanted to your jawbone. The transplanted bone will grow, but it may take six to nine months to grow enough new bone to support a dental implant. In some cases, you may need only minor bone grafting that can be done at the same time as the implant surgery. The condition of your jawbone determines how you can proceed.

Click here to learn more about bone grafting.

What Happens after Dental Implant Surgery?

Whether you have dental implant surgery in one stage or multiple stages, you may experience some of the typical discomforts associated with any type of dental surgery. These may include:

  • Swelling of your gums and face

  • Bruising of your skin and gums

  • Pain at the implant site

  • Minor bleedingVery rarely, stiffness of your jaw muscles may occur, or an inability to fully open your mouth. When these do occur, they're usually a result of passing a surgical needle through jaw muscle.

If swelling, discomfort or any other problem gets worse in the days after surgery, contact your implant surgeon. He or she may prescribe pain medications or antibiotics.

After each stage of surgery, you may need to eat soft foods for five to seven days. Typically, stitches that dissolve on their own are used. If your stitches aren't self-dissolving, your doctor removes them in about 10 days.

How do I Make my Dental Implant Surgery a Success

Most dental implants are successful. Still, you can help your dental work — and remaining natural teeth — last longer if you:

  • Practice exceptional oral hygiene. Just as with your natural teeth, implants, artificial teeth and gum tissue must be kept clean. Specially designed brushes, such as an interdental brush that slides between teeth, can help clean the nooks and crannies around teeth, gums and metal abutments.

  • See your dentist regularly. Schedule dental checkups every six months to one year to ensure the health and proper functioning of your implants.

  • Avoid damaging habits. Don't chew hard items, such as ice and hard candy, which can break your crowns — or your natural teeth. Avoid tooth-staining tobacco and caffeine products. Get treatment if you grind your teeth.

When Dental Implant Surgery Doesn't Work

In some cases, dental implants don't work. Usually that happens when the bone fails to fuse sufficiently to the metal implant cylinder. In this case, the implant is removed, the bone is cleaned up, and you can try the procedure again in a month or two.

In addition, the implant may become loose. If this happens, the implant can be removed and replaced with a new one.

What factors contribute to the long term success of dental implants?

A Long-term success depends on multiple factors. Firstly, success will depend on the quality and quantity of one. The better the bone and the more available, the greater the chance of long-term success. Secondly, the experience and ability of the dental surgeon will be a factor. As with any surgical procedure, there is no substitute for the experience and individual talent of the dentist. And finally, the quality of the restoration placed on top of the implant will play a big role in long-term success. If the design of the implant crowns or overdentures are poorly constructed, and biting forces are not balanced, even the best-placed dental implant will have a compromised survival rate.

How Painful Are Dental Implants?

Most people who have received dental implants say that there is very little discomfort involved in the procedure. Local anesthesia can be used during the procedure, and most patients report that implants involve less pain than a tooth extraction. After the dental implant, mild soreness can be treated with over-the-counter pain medications, such as, Paracetamol, Tylenol or Motrin.

Are there any age limitations for dental implants?

No. Any person at any age can have dental implants as long as there is enough bone available in which to place the implants.

How often will I need to have my implants checked?

The success of your implants will depend greatly on how well you maintain them. They will need to be professionally cleaned by a hygienist and examined by your implant dentist every three to four months. This hygienist should be trained in the specific procedure of maintaining dental implants. Also, brushing and flossing daily is absolutely necessary for long-term success.

When can I return to work after implant surgery?

You can go to work the next day, unless some particular surgical circumstance arises. Your implant dentist will discuss all postoperative instructions with you.

Will my implant teeth work as well as natural teeth?

While nothing works as well as a full set of natural healthy teeth, implants provide the next best thing. Generally, patients are not aware they even have implants after the short healing period. The implant replacement teeth looks, feels, and function in a manner that allows people to forget they have implants.

Will implants last a lifetime?

Few things last forever. Every case depends on the individual patient. Generally, the current overall dental health of the patient and the condition of the bone structure remaining in the jaws are important factors in determining long-term success rates. Of course, everyone needs regular visits to their dentists, and this is particularly important for dental implant patients.

I like my dentures, but they move ?

Implants can be used as retention for your existing dentures, eliminating movility and improving your chewing ability.

When should I start this treatment ?

As soon as you loose a tooth, otherwise the bone starts shrinking.

What if I have gum disease ?

It will need to be controlled, and remove teeth with poor prognosis before placing the implants, improving your esthetics and function.

Are implants difficult to clean ?

No more difficult than your original teeth.

Which is the Best Type of Dental Implant?

There are many different brands of implants with some being more expensive than another. Because it is something that is inserted in your body and can be expensive, complicated and bad for you health if it goes bad, the bigger brand names are recommended. Brand names like Astra, ITI, Straumann, and NobelBiocare to name the biggest.

What is the Most Important Part of a Dental Implant?

By far, the most important part of getting a dental implant is the dentist you choose. Sometimes one dentist will place and restore the implant while other times one dentist will place the implant and another will restore the implant with a crown. The quality, experience and training of the dentist is the most important element in your care. A dentist that is a Master of the Academy of General Dentistry would be one of the very best selections possible.

Can anyone get a Dental Implant?

Almost anyone can have a dental implant but a few health problems need to be considered. Smoking, diabetes, weak jawbone, osteoporosis, dry mouth and other medical problems that prohibit complete healing can be contraindications for dental implants.

How do I care for my Dental Implant?

You care for your dental implant just like a natural tooth. You need to brush, floss and water pik around the implant twice per 24 hour period.

Will others know I have dental implants ?

Today's implant treatment enables you to have your new teeth look, feel and function like your own. Even though others will be unaware you have dental implants, many patients are so pleased they tell everyone they know.

Does Insurance Cover the Cost of Dental Implants?

In general, implants are not covered by dental insurance in USA at this time. Coverage under your medical plan may be possible, depending on the insurance plan and/or cause of tooth loss. Detailed questions about your individual needs and how they relate to insurance should be discussed with your dentist and your insurance provider. You may be able to get reimbursed for portions of your dental treatement from your dental insurance provider. Please check with your insurance company.

Where do dental implants work?

Dental implants replace the form and function of missing teeth. They support replacement teeth in virtually the same way that your natural tooth root supports your natural teeth.

Various replacement options are possible:

  • Dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth, so that grinding down or altering adjacent teeth is no longer necessary.
    Dental implants can be used as anchors to support a fixed bridge.

  • Dental implants can support loose teeth by being splinted to them.

  • Dental implants can support replacement teeth for an entirely toothless jaw
    Dental implants can provide stability for a complete denture, thereby eliminating unsightly moving and clicking associated with dentures

Dental Implants are actually an amazing procedure, actually giving you a second chance for your teeth!

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