Dental Implants

Dental implants are surgically placed into the jawbone to permanently replace missing teeth.

A determining factor for many dental patients deciding whether to get dental implants is the price tag. The cost of dental implants varies, but prices can range from $1,000 to $3,000 per implant. Most dental insurance plans consider implants a cosmetic procedure, so costs aren’t covered. Since the price of dental implants can be significantly higher than other common solutions for missing teeth, some patients are more willing to explore more competitively-priced solutions like dentures, partial dentures or bridges.

Replacing Teeth: What Are My Options?

A missing tooth can be a nagging inconvenience. Not do they negatively impact your smile, but missing teeth will affect the way you speak, eat, and the future of your smile since gaps cause your other teeth to shift. Here are three of the most popular tooth restoration options.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are titanium or ceramic posts surgically implanted into the jawbone to act as an anchor for replacement teeth. Dental implants are a permanent solution for missing teeth, and with the proper care, you may never have to replace them. So, even if the upfront cost of getting dental implants seems expensive, you may pay less money for your restorations and spend less time on maintenance, replacement, and repairs than you would with removable dentures.

A dental implant looks and feels like a natural tooth, so it allows you to chew and speak like you did before you lost your tooth. It is more comfortable and more natural-looking than most of the other tooth restoration solutions available. And they are, by far, the closest thing to your natural teeth that dentistry has to offer. Most of the time, it’s difficult to tell the difference between someone’s dental implants and their natural teeth.

Not only are dental implants virtually identical to natural teeth, there also aren’t susceptible to many of the problems natural teeth have like cavities, worn enamel, and tooth decay.

Dentures

While implant dentistry is a popular option for replacing a missing tooth, but it’s not the only option you have.

Removable dentures are probably the fastest way to replace missing teeth. Some dentists have on-site laboratories where you can get same-day denture repair, and even same-day dentures, if needed.

Dentures conveniently rest on the gum line as a substitute for missing teeth. Some denture wearers only remove their dentures at night, while others only wear their dentures when they feel it’s necessary.

Removable dentures are designed for easy wear and easy removal, but it’s not unusual for dentures to slip out of place. When this happens, food can get wedged between your dentures and your natural teeth or gums, and cause pain and irritation.

Dental Bridges

A dental bridge fills the space between your teeth by anchoring itself on adjacent teeth to secure the integrity of the space, and keep nearby teeth from moving. After tooth loss, stabilizing the remaining teeth is important because shifting teeth create new crevices for dental plaque to hide, which can lead to tooth decay.

The Four-Step Dental Implant Procedure

Getting dental implants is a four-step surgical process provided by your dentist, a prosthodontist or an oral surgeon. The results are permanent, but the entire process will take several months to complete.

Step 1: Removing the Tooth

If your tooth hasn’t already been removed, extraction is usually the first step in the dental implant procedure. Tooth extraction is a straightforward process, even if the tooth is broken or impacted. Your dentist will be able to extract your tooth in just a few minutes.

Step 2: Implanting the Post

During the second step of your dental treatment, your dentist will drill a hole into your jawbone and screw a titanium implant in place as the anchor for your new tooth. Don’t worry. It sounds worse than it is. Most patients will undergo this procedure quite comfortably with just a local anesthetic.

Here’s why dental implants can take months: After your dentist implants the post, the gum is secured over the dental implant and will remain covered long enough for the implant to fuse to the jawbone. This process, called osseointegration, usually takes several months to complete.

Your dentist won’t install your permanent crown onto the post until osseointegration is complete. So, your dentist will send you home wearing healing caps on top of the posts. You may experience mild discomfort as the implant heals, but that’s to be expected anytime you have dental surgery.

Step 3: Attaching the Abutment

Next the abutment portion of your implant is installed. In this stage of the dental implant procedure, your dentist will remove your healing caps to expose the top of the post that was implanted during Step 2. The abutment extends just above the gum line. This is where your replacement tooth will be attached.

Step 4: Adding your replacement tooth

In the final step of the implant process, your dentist will add a dental crown securely on top of the abutment. Your new tooth is extremely secure and will function just like any other tooth.

The conventional dental implant process usually takes several months to complete and involves multiple appointments. But as dental implant technology continues to advance and products like Nobel Teeth-In-An-HourTM and mini implants become more common in dental implant procedures, you’ll see more and more single-visit dental implants being done.

Dental Implants Are the Ideal Long-Term Solution

Dental implants can replace a single tooth, several teeth, or all of your teeth. They can be used to anchor a bridge or dentures into place. If you need to have all your teeth replaced, implant-supported dentures are a great solution. They provide more stability than traditional dentures and cost less than replacing all of your teeth with implant-supported crowns.

Remember, if properly maintained, dental implants can last a lifetime. Even though the dental implant can't get cavities, you still need to brush and floss the area to remove harmful bacteria and dental plaque buildup.

Just a note: In addition to practicing good oral hygiene, you may want to consider refraining from smoking.

 If you think dental implants might be right for you, talk to your dentist. He/she will take your overall health into account when determining whether you are a good candidate for dental implants, so be sure to discuss any pre-existing medical conditions you may have with your dentist.

Schedule and keep your regular dental visits every six months. If you don’t have a dentist, call 1-800-DENTIST to let us help you find a dentist who does dental implants near you.