Dental implant FAQs
Making the decision to improve your smile with dental implants can be a big step. Here are a few frequently asked questions to help you make your decision.
What is a dental implant?
Technically, a dental implant is a small, but very strong post made from biocompatible metals or ceramics, and is made up of three components: the dental implant, the abutment, and the crown.
The dental implant is a small post, usually made of titanium, and similar in shape to screws. Under local anesthetic, it is surgically inserted into the jawbone, and serves as the first step in the process to replace missing teeth. Once inserted, the dental implant bonds with the natural bone, acts as a substitute for the root of the tooth, and provides the base of support for the one or more replacement teeth, also known as the crowns.
The abutment is a connector that is placed on, or built into, the top of the dental implant, and serves as the connection point and additional support for the crown.
The crown, essentially the replacement tooth, is custom manufactured to match the look, shape, and fit of the other natural teeth, and then installed onto the abutment to complete the replacement process.
What does the procedure entail and how long does it take?
Dental implant procedures generally follow a series of standard steps, and take more than one visit to complete. A licensed dental professional will first make an assessment of the patient, which includes a patient history, completion of a dental examination, and discussion of a full treatment plan. Because each patient is different, total treatment time depends on individual patients needs, medical and dental history, jawbone condition, and the technique and materials that are being used. It can be as short as a few months, or more than a year to complete more complex conditions.
The next step is the insertion of the dental implant, which done under local anesthesia. After dental implant surgery, patients need time to heal and have any sutures removed before moving onto the next phase of restoration. A temporary restoration may be placed on the dental implant at time of surgery for the healing stage.
The healing phase usually lasts between a couple of weeks and a few months. Ideally during this period the bone around the dental implant grows and integrates with the dental implant surface – a process called osseointegration. Good oral hygiene is vital in the healing stage of the treatment. Once healed, this artificial root acts as a base for fixing individual crowns, multi-tooth bridges, or an entire dental prosthesis.
Once sufficient healing has occurred, the dental professional takes an impression of the dental implant site that will be sent to a lab to produce a crown (or bridge if multiple teeth are being replaced) that is custom-fit to the patient’s mouth. Once fabrication is complete, the crown or bridge is installed.
How do I care for dental implants?
Both the patient and the dental team contribute to the long-term success of dental implant procedures. Dental teams will prepare individual patient oral care plans, and advise on cleaning techniques specific
to each treatment situation. Just like with natural teeth, dental tartar can build and cause problems for dental implants, and diligent oral care is vital to the long-term success of new teeth. Long-term care instructions include:
- Use a soft toothbrush (change regularly) or an electric toothbrush for cleaning teeth.
- Use cleaning aids recommended by the dental team, such as interdental brushes or irrigation devices for cleaning the spaces between teeth.
- Brush teeth on the inside, outside, and top surfaces where chewing occurs.
- Specific dental implant cleaning and flossing techniques may be recommended
- Regular check-ups and preventive visits to the dentist are necessary to keep new teeth healthy.
Does dental implant surgery hurt?
As with any surgical procedure, there may be some discomfort that is experienced during and after the procedure. Every patient will heal differently and your surgeon will work with you before, during, and after surgery to help keep you as comfortable as possible.
How long do dental implants last and are they safe?
With proper care, dental implants are designed to last many years, and for some, a lifetime. Dentists have been using dental implants to replace missing teeth for decades, and the technology continues to improve each year. When performed by a trained and experienced dental implant dentist, dental implant surgery is one of the safest and most predictable procedures in dentistry.
How much does dental implant surgery cost, and will my insurance cover it?
The decision to replace missing teeth with dental implants is not only an excellent investment in your oral health and appearance; it’s an investment in your “happiness factor” and your mental health. Dental implant therapy – a lifelong investment in your smile – is more than just a solution for tooth restoration; it can vastly improve your quality of life.
Insurance coverage can be determined based on your unique treatment plan. Your dental professional will help you determine if your treatment will be covered. If it’s determined that insurance won’t cover your procedure, speak with your dentist about what options may be available. Many dental practices now offer financing and payment plans that can be paid off over time.
What are my tooth replacement options?
Dental implants are the most natural looking and natural feeling replacement for missing teeth. Unlike other tooth replacement options, dental implants don’t slip or click when you talk, laugh or eat. They also help to keep your jawbone healthy and make sure facial structure stays intact.
Whether you are looking to replace one or multiple teeth, Straumann® offers a variety of products that can provide you with natural-looking teeth replacements. The best place to start is talking with your dentist about tooth replacement options for your unique situation.
Are dental implants better than removable dentures?
Dental implants are now the standard of care for missing teeth. Better than older solutions such as dentures and other removable appliances, dental implants look, feel, and function like natural teeth. They also help prevent bone loss caused by missing tooth roots and do not require adjacent teeth to be ground down. Along with these major benefits, other important reasons to consider upgrading to dental implants include:
- A dental implant merges with your body. Even the best prosthesis will always be a foreign part that requires care. By contrast, a dental implant is simply an artificial root, which after it heals, merges with your body and acts likes a natural root.
- Dental implants preserve your facial structure. Because dental implants are anchored into bone, they securely transmit chewing forces to the jawbone, which helps to maintain a healthy jaw and preserve facial structure, which is not the case if teeth are missing or when a conventional denture has been put in place. Dental implants help to keep your jawbone healthy, so your facial structure stays intact.
- Dental implants not only restore your smile, they allow you to improve and maintain it. Functionality and visual appearance go together. When you fix missing teeth with dental implants, there will be no visible difference, which can happen with older methods. Additionally, with dental implants, time-consuming care and maintenance is not required.
- You can feel more comfortable talking, smiling and eating. Dental implants are the most natural looking and natural feeling replacement for missing teeth. Unlike other tooth replacement options, dental implants don’t slip or click when you talk, laugh or eat.
What if I decide not to replace my tooth?
When a tooth is lost and not replaced, the bone that was supporting the tooth no longer has a reason to be there, so it will begin to erode away. This can cause bone loss around the surrounding teeth, and can lead to damaging and losing surrounding teeth, which may ultimately lead to the eventual loss of other teeth. Although dental implant procedures involve multiple steps, replacing just one missing tooth can not only sometimes be done in one day, it can help save the other, currently unaffected teeth from future damage. TeethToday implants are designed to shorten the time needed for restortation.
Is there any risk involved with dental implant surgery?
When a tooth is lost and not replaced, the bone that was supporting the tooth no longer has a reason to be there, so it will begin to erode away. This can cause bone loss around the surrounding teeth, and can lead to damaging and losing surrounding teeth, which may ultimately lead to the eventual loss of other teeth. Although dental implant procedures involve multiple steps, replacing just one missing tooth can not only sometimes be done in one day, it can help save the other, currently unaffected teeth from future damage. TeethToday dental implants are designed to shorten the time needed for restortation.
Every surgical procedure carries potential risks. You should always consult with a dental professional prior to treatment. Potential risk factors may vary depending on medical or other conditions of each patient. The possibility of immediate placement and the use of a prosthetic tooth depends on many factors, such as bone presence and quality, dental history, implant location, and availability of the final restoration. Your clinician will fully describe the possible scenarios to you during consultation prior to surgery. Every surgical procedure carries potential risks. Consult your clinician to find out if dental implants are right for you.