The Skinny on Dental Implants

Dental Implants

What are they?

Generally speaking, dental implants are a type of permanent tooth replacement. Unlike other forms of tooth replacement like bridges or dentures, they are surgical devices that enter and interact with the bone of the jaw or the skull to support a dental prosthesis, often a dental crown. The dental implant itself specifically refers to the screw-like titanium component that is placed into the bone; this implant then connects to an abutment that sits within and holds a tooth-like porcelain crown.

How are they placed in the mouth?

During an initial consultation, the dentist will examine the area to receive the implant and take a series of X-rays and/or 3D images to determine exactly where the implant will be placed. The dentist will then go over the various options for the treatment plan. The next appointment will consist of actually placing the titanium implant into the bone of the jaw or skull, frequently utilizing a guide. In most cases, the patient will only receive local anesthesia, similar to what is employed for fillings, extractions, or root canals. Typically, there’s no bleeding or stitches needed after the implant placement, and the pain and recovery time is also similar to other dental surgeries. When needed, dentists will provide patients with temporary teeth for the three or so months it will take until the permanent crown is placed on the implant. That three-month period provides time for osseointegration — the actual fusing of the patient’s bone with the titanium of the implant — to take place. Once the implant is fully fused with the bone, the dentist will attach the abutment just above the gum line, take impressions of the surrounding teeth to ensure the perfect fit for the new crown, and custom match the color. The final appointment will involve seating the new porcelain crown and checking for a perfect fit.

How long does the procedure take?

As suggested above, the entire process for replacing a tooth with an implant-supported crown takes several months, but the time spent in the dental chair is probably less than you’d expect: The initial consultation can be done within a half-hour to an hour appointment. The second appointment where the implant is actually placed can be done within an hour-long appointment. Impressions can be taken within a half-hour appointment, and the final seating of the crown can be done within an hour appointment.

Who can benefit from them?

Adults of all ages who are missing teeth can benefit from dental implants: those who have lost teeth due to injury, those who have lost teeth due to infection or decay, or those who were born missing teeth. The only groups who cannot take advantage of dental implants are children whose facial structure has not reached full maturity and those — often elderly individuals — who have experienced too much bone loss to support the device.

Why are they preferable to other tooth replacements?

When compared to tooth replacement options like bridges or dentures, dental implants offer several major advantages:

• They are actually more cost-effective in the long term. Dental implants, when they are properly maintained, can last many decades. In comparison, bridges and dentures tend to only last from five to ten years, meaning continual replacement costs and costs of ongoing appointments to address their issues.

• They are easily the most comfortable and most natural-looking replacement for one’s own teeth. Bridges and dentures can sometimes slip or dig into the gum tissue, leading to discomfort and the need for ongoing adjustments. Dental implants, on the other hand, feel and function just like any other natural tooth in the mouth.

• They allow for the complete freedom to eat and speak as one normally would. Unlike bridges and dentures, dental implants allow people to enjoy all the foods they love and to speak without the fear of a dental device slipping or clicking.

• They are the only tooth replacement option that actually promotes the growth and health of bone and prevents bone loss. When the bone of the jaw or skull fuses with the titanium of the implant, this strengthens the supporting bone and the teeth surrounding it.

How much do they cost?

This is the question on many people’s minds when it comes to dental implants. Yes, dental implants are considerably more expensive, up front, than dentures or bridges. However, studies show that their durability and functionality makes them a better buy in the long run. No two patients will pay exactly the same amount for a dental implant, but people can expect to pay around $3,000 to $5,000 for an implant with crown.

How can I arrange for my own dental implant?

If you’re in need of tooth replacement and think that a dental implant could be right for you, please call our office today at (608) 788-6939 to set up your consultation.

Where can I learn more?

Here are some good resources related to dental implants: