Patient Articles

How Do I Talk To My Doctor About Dental Implants?

Replacing missing teeth with dental implants is an excellent investment in oral health and appearance, but it does require a degree of planning and decision-making. Although dental implants are now the standard of care for missing teeth, beginning the process can feel overwhelming and confusing. One of the best – and easiest – ways to start your journey towards smiling again is to arm yourself with some questions and begin a conversation directly with your dentist. Here is a list of questions and some initial information you can use to prepare and educate yourself to start that conversation.

1.    How do I know if I am a good candidate for dental implants?
There are criteria that your dentist will use to evaluate whether or not you are a good candidate.

2.    Can any dentist do dental implant surgery?
Both oral surgeons and periodontists are often trained to perform dental implant surgery, but you should always make sure your dental professional has gone through professional training to perform dental implant surgery.

3.    Are dental implants expensive?
Your dental professional will be able to give you a cost estimate after examining you and determining the solution that’s best suited to your unique needs and explain all of the costs involved including the surgery itself, lab work, the prosthesis and your dentist’s and dental technician’s fees. In some cases, dental implants may be more economical than dentures in the long term.

4.    Does insurance cover dental implants?
Insurance coverage can be determined based on your unique treatment plan. Your dental professional will help you determine if your treatment will be covered.

5.    What if insurance will not cover my procedure? Can I finance my dental implant procedure?
Your dental professional can discuss with you what financing options they might offer or recommend.

6.    Do I have options, or is there only one type of dental implant?
There are many solutions and product lines available. Your dental professional will help you understand and recommend different options.

7.    Can I have just one tooth replaced, or do I need to have more than one to be replaced?
Your dental professional will determine the number of dental implants required after evaluating your clinical situation. There are many options available depending on your unique situation.

8.    How long do dental implants last?
Dental implants are designed to last for many years. Following your dental professional’s instructions for home care and maintenance is critical to keeping your mouth healthy, even after replacing your teeth with dental implants.

9.    What is the dental implant process?
The dental implant process includes a few steps to complete process: diagnosis and decision-making, insertion of the dental implant, the healing phase, and finally, the crown restoration. Your dental professional will discuss each step of the process and how long each step is expected to take.

10.  How long does the whole process take?
Every patient is unique and your dental professional will be able to estimate the length of your treatment only after evaluating your clinical situation and required procedures. After the initial dental implant surgery, the healing process takes about 6-8 weeks. In this time, the dental implant reaches the stability needed for it to bear weight like a natural tooth. As always, healing times can vary depending on the individual condition and indication. After healing, the crowns can be attached.

11.  Is there a faster method rather than waiting for months?
Depending on your unique situation, there may be an option that doesn’t take months. Talk to your dental professional about your options.

12.  Is the surgery painful?
Dental implants are generally inserted under local anesthetic to help minimise discomfort during the operation. Your dental team will do everything possible to make you comfortable during the procedure minimise any discomfort post-surgery.

13.  Are there any risks when placing dental implants?
Dental implant therapy is a well-proven, state-of-the-art medical dental technique that has been scientifically tested and used for decades by dentists and surgeons worldwide. The clinical outcome of dental implant treatment is influenced by multiple variables. The following possible residual risks and side effects relate to dental implants and may lead to additional treatment at the dentist’s office:

  • Bite/mastication/phonetic problems
  • Bleeding
  • Bone compression
  • Bone damage
  • Gingival injuries
  • Hypersensitivity/allergic reactions
  • Infection
  • Irritation/inflammation
  • Longer recovery/healing time than expected
  • Loss of implant dental 
  • Loss of prosthetic components
  • Nerve damage, possibly resulting in chronic pain
  • Other toxicity reactions
  • Paresthesia
  • Dysesthesia
  • Poor esthetic outcome
  • Risk of surgical dental implant explanation
  • Risk of swallowing/inhaling small parts during the procedure
  • Trismus
  • Ulceration
  • Dental implant fracture
  • Sinus perforation
  • Swelling
  • Local inflammation
  • Bruising
  • Resorption of maxillary/mandibular ridge bone
  • Infection (including periimplantitis, periodontitis, gingivitis, fistula)
  • Minor bleeding

Note: Immediately after the insertion of dental implants, activities that demand considerable physical exertion should be avoided.

Your dental professional will discuss any risk factors that are associated with your unique clinical case.

14.  What if I decide to not do the replacement?
Missing one tooth may not seem like a big deal, but if multiple are missing, it can affect two critical areas: function (eating foods you love, proper chewing, forced to eat what you can, not what you want) and aesthetics (not being able to smile has a tremendous impact on self confidence). It is important to discuss all options with your dental professional.

15.  Are there any special aftercare measures required?
Diligent oral hygiene both before and after your procedure helps to ensure satisfactory results. Your dental professional will discuss aftercare and specific instructions for your procedure.

16.  Is there any age limitation to dental implant therapy?
It is possible to insert dental implants as soon as the jaw has stopped growing. Therefore, in young patients, dental implants can only be placed once their jawbones are fully developed. At the other end of the spectrum, there is no age limit, given of course that the patient does not display any significant medical risk factors. Your jawbone health will be evaluated by your dental professional as part of the process.

17.  Are people satisfied with the function and look of dental implants?
Long-term surveys have shown that Straumann® dental implants have very high satisfaction rates. Patients can count on reliable solutions, as Straumann makes no compromises on quality.

18.  What are dental implants made of?
Dental implants are generally made of Titanium - a biocompatible, non-toxic and well-tolerated metal. Dental implants made from titanium bond very well to living bone and have been used for decades in the medical device industry.

19.  Other areas of discussion about your dentist’s experience and choice of products can help you get more clarity. These include:

  • What products do they use to help deliver quality dental care?
  • What type and brand of dental implants does your dentist use?
  • How long has your dentist been using this dental implant system and why?
  • What kind of clinical evidence supports the dental implant system and its success rate?
  • Which dental implant brand would your dentist select for him/herself or a family member?

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