A dental implant is a metal device that is surgically inserted into the upper or lower jawbone. It acts as a base for a crown, bridge, or an artificial tooth and it simulates the function of a tooth root.
Dental implants can be used in the replacement of one or more teeth and are also used to support crowns and dentures.
Implants are generally made of titanium and come in various forms such as cylinders or screws.
Dental implants are usually done in two phases:
The first phase is the actual implant placement. This is generally done in office with just local anesthesia or light sedation.
Implants are placed into the jawbone for 3 to 6 months while osseointegration (bonding to bone) takes place. This helps ensure a strong, solid foundation for replacement teeth.
During this time, temporary bridges or dentures may be used to minimize any cosmetic or chewing inconvenience. Phase #2 involves creating and attaching the new tooth or teeth to the anchored implant(s) in your jaw.
Dental implants can replace a single tooth, several teeth or complete dentures. Your dentist can recommend the best choice for you.
As with any surgery, there are some potential risks. Complications can include infection, sinus problems, nerve damage, and injury to the surrounding areas. An added risk is that the dental implant may fail to work properly.
Complications are rare, and the benefits typically outweigh the risks. Benefits include the longevity and natural-looking aesthetics of the implants.
Additionally, dental implants don’t affect the quality of any neighboring teeth like a full bridge does. Implant surgery has a high success rate in comparison to other types of tooth replacement procedures.
Upper and lower dentures have been the usual (and cheaper) replacements for missing teeth in the past, but they have very well known downsides.
Lower dentures notoriously fit poorly, cause mouth irritation and restrict talking and eating. Upper dentures do fit better but are also known to have similar issues as the gum tissue shrinks around them.
Dentures can last for a long time, and are more affordable, but they will need to be refitted.
Dental implants are permanent dental replacements that are both natural looking and very functional. Implants look much better and feel better, and offer the same force for biting as natural teeth.
If you are a non-smoker with good oral hygiene habits, dental implants should last for a lifetime.
The ideal candidate for dental implant surgery is someone who has healthy gum tissue and generally good oral health.
Anyone who has lost one or more teeth due to an injury or periodontal disease is also a good candidate.
It is also important to have an adequate amount of bone in the jaw in order for the jaw to properly support the implant.
The cost of implant surgery varies depending on the extent of the procedure. The average cost ranges from $1,250 to $3,000 per tooth but if a patient requires additional procedures such as bone regeneration and sinus elevation, the fees can increase from $15,000 to $30,000.
Factors that can affect the cost are the type of implant used, the surgeon’s fees, and the number of teeth implants needed. In some cases, insurance covers a portion of the fees.