Dental implants have revolutionized the way dentists replace missing teeth. These devices, designed to mimic natural teeth, offer a high success rate, making them a preferred choice for many patients.
So, how do dental implants work?
This guide will discuss dental implants, their types, how they work, the dental implant process, and maintaining oral hygiene post-procedure.
Understanding Dental Implants
What are dental implants made of? What do dental implants look like? A dental implant is a screw-like titanium post-surgically implanted into your jawbone, acting as an artificial tooth root to support replacement teeth. This titanium screw is intimately connected with the mouth’s soft tissues (i.e., gums) and underlying hard tissues (i.e., bone).
It’s a solution that feels, functions, and even looks like a healthy tooth. Dental implants can replace single or multiple teeth, and their long-term success has been widely recognized in implant dentistry.
Who Are the Ideal Candidates for Dental Implants?
Ideal candidates for dental implants typically have the following characteristics:
- Good Overall Health: The procedure involves surgery, so candidates should be healthy.
- Sufficient Bone Density: Enough bone is needed in the jaw to support the implant.
- Healthy Gums: Candidates should be free of periodontal disease.
- Commitment to Oral Hygiene: Regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups are necessary to maintain the implant.
Who May Not Be Suitable for Dental Implants?
Some individuals may not be suitable candidates for dental implant therapy. These include:
- People with Chronic Health Issues: Conditions like diabetes or heart disease may affect the body’s ability to heal after surgery.
- Cancer Patients: Those undergoing radiation therapy in the head/neck area may not be suitable.
- Insufficient Bone Density: Individuals with significant bone loss in the jaw may be unable to support the metal implant.
- Smokers and Heavy Alcohol Users: These habits can hinder the healing process after surgery.
- Pregnant Women: Non-emergency dental treatments are usually postponed until after childbirth.
The Three Types of Dental Implants
Three main types of dental implants are commonly used, such as:
- Endosteal implants. Placed directly into the jawbone, these are the most common type of implant.
- Subperiosteal implants. Positioned beneath the gum but above the jawbone, these are ideal for patients with inadequate jawbone.
- Zygomatic implants. They are the least common and are used when there’s insufficient jawbone for the other two types.
The Surgical Procedure for Dental Implants
The placement of dental implants involves multiple steps and may take several months to complete. The surgical procedure for dental implants typically follows these stages:
Step 1: Consultation and Treatment Planning
Before the dental implant surgery, you will consult your dentist or oral surgeon. During this consultation, they will assess your oral health, review your medical history, and take necessary dental imaging such as X-rays or CT scans. To avoid implant failures, a treatment plan will be created based on your specific needs and goals.
Step 2: Preparatory Procedures
Preparatory dental implant procedures may sometimes be required before implant surgery. This can include tooth extraction, bone grafting, or sinus augmentation. These procedures are done to ensure that there is enough healthy bone for implant placement.
Step 3: Implant Placement
The implant placement surgical procedure is typically conducted under local anesthesia, although in more intricate cases or upon the patient’s request, sedation or general anesthesia may be utilized. The oral surgeon or dentist initiates the process by cutting the gum tissue to reveal the jawbone beneath.
Following this, a hole is drilled into the bone, where the titanium implant is meticulously inserted. This implant serves as an anchor for an artificial tooth, also known as a crown.
Subsequently, the gum tissue is sutured back into its original position. A temporary crown or bridge might be installed over the implant. A special dental cement ensures the crown remains affixed to the abutment.
Step 4: Osseointegration
After placing the implant, a healing process called osseointegration occurs. This is the crucial phase where the implant fuses with the surrounding bone tissue, forming a strong and stable foundation. Osseointegration typically takes several months, during which the patient may be given a temporary restoration to wear. During this time, patients may need to stick to a diet of soft foods to avoid disturbing the implant site.
Step 5: Final Restoration
Once osseointegration is complete, the dental implant is considered stable and ready to support the final restoration. The dentist will take impressions of the implant and adjacent teeth to create a custom-made crown, bridge, or denture. This final restoration is attached to the implant, creating a natural-looking and fully functional replacement tooth.
Quality of Life With Dental Implants
Dental implants can significantly improve the quality of life for individuals who have lost their real teeth. They are more comfortable and natural-looking than conventional dentures or removable dentures. With proper care, successful implants can last a lifetime.
Factors Affecting Implant Success
- Patient’s Health Condition. The patient’s overall health, including conditions like diabetes or blood pressure, can affect the success of the implant.
- Quality and Quantity of the Jawbone. The available bone structure in the jaw where the implant will be placed plays a critical role in the procedure’s success.
- Patient’s Oral Health. Issues such as gum or periodontal disease can negatively impact the implant success.
- Additional Procedures. In cases of inadequate bone structure, additional procedures like bone grafts might be necessary to ensure enough bone to support the implant.
- Quality of Dental Crown. The dental crown quality also affects the implant’s long-term success.
- Skill and Experience of the Dental Provider. The expertise of the dental provider in carrying out the procedure can significantly influence the outcome.
- Patient’s Commitment to Dental Hygiene. Proper dental care and maintenance of oral hygiene post-implant placement are crucial for the longevity of the implant.
Dental Implant Costs and Insurance Coverage
The cost of dental implant placement can vary depending on several factors, including the number of replacement teeth needed, your dentist and location, the complexity of your procedure, and any additional procedures required. However, the average cost is $3,000 to $ 5,000.
While some insurance plans partially cover implant costs, it’s important to check with your dental provider and insurance company to understand your coverage.
Dental implants offer a durable, natural-looking, and effective solution for tooth loss. This tooth replacement option can significantly improve oral health and quality of life, whether missing a single tooth or multiple teeth. Talk to your dentist or oral surgeon to determine the best implant treatment for your specific needs.
If you’re considering dental implants, schedule an initial consultation with us. We have a team of skilled dentists with years of experience performing this treatment. We are also equipped with the latest technology to help us provide efficient and comfortable procedures.