FAQ About Dental Implants

What are dental implants?

A dental implant is a safe, successful and predictable man made “tooth root” constructed of lightweight titanium. It is gently placed into the jawbone where it fuses to the bone. This forms a secure foundation upon which a replacement tooth is placed.

What are the benefits of dental implants?

Because your replacement teeth are firmly anchored, there is no slipping and sliding commonly associated with conventional partials, complete dentures and bridges. Your biting and chewing function will be fully restored. You will be able to eat your favorite foods again. You will be able to speak and smile with confidence.

Are there any benefits for my jawbone and surrounding teeth?

Yes! Without tooth roots to keep the jawbone healthy, it slowly resorbs, or shrinks, changing the shape of your face. By integrating with the jawbone, dental implants keep the bone “alive” and healthy. Equally important, dental implants can be placed without grinding down adjacent healthy teeth as is requited with conventional bridges and partials. Twenty to thirty percent of all teeth prepared for crowns require an endodontic procedure. On average, insurance companies cover the replacement of a bridge every five to seven years – its life expectancy is not long.

Will my replacement teeth look natural?

The results will likely exceed your expectations in regards to appearance, comfort and function. They will feel like a second set of permanent teeth.

What are the various options for dental implants?

Single teeth can be replaced with a dental implant. Two implants can be used to secure a complete lower denture. In certain situations your existing denture can be modified to attach to these implants. Multiple implants can be placed to fix a complete upper and lower denture in a non-removable nature. A consultation would be necessary to determine your best treatment options.

Is this a common procedure?

More than 100 million people in the United States are missing between 10 and 15 teeth. Approximately 50 million people are missing all of their teeth. 57 percent of those 65 to 74 years old employ a denture. Many people currently have a dental bridge which one day may require replacement. Upon replacement the gap may be expanded due to loss of one or both of the support teeth. It was estimated in Consumer’s Report that approximately 500,000 implants were placed in 1997.

Are dental implants experimental? How long will they last?

Patients, aged 19 to 79 years, were involved in a study where 2,847 implants were placed in total of 482 lower jaws that were followed during a 5-20 year period. The success of the bridge work on the lower jaw at 5, 10 and 15 year check-ups was 99%. A recent editorial in the International Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Implants stated, “It’s time to make the singe-tooth implant a standard of care for the replacement of single missing teeth.” Studies and statements such as these backed by scientific data have proven that dental implants are not experimental in nature.

What about the success rate of dental implants?

The implants we use have a long track record of success. In fact, the basic design of the implant has not changed for more than 30 years – that’s testament to its effectiveness and stability. Over the last decade, statistics confirm a success rate of nearly 95% for individual implants and even higher than that for the bridges they support.

Who is a candidate for dental implants?

Almost everyone whose jawbone has fully developed is a candidate for dental implants. The main limitation is the amount of available bone. A consultation is necessary to determine if dental implants are right for you.

Who will perform my procedure?

Dental implant treatment typically uses a team approach involving an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and a restorative dentist.

How long will the procedure take?

The implant procedure itself is brief. It takes place in a single visit to the surgeon’s office. This is followed by a healing period during which the bonding of the dental implant to the jawbone takes place. Typically, this requires from three to six months. Most patients use a temporary bridge during this period. New advancements have allowed for earlier completion in specific situations.

Can this be done in the office?

The majority of our patients are treated in our office. Our surgical staff has been trained specifically for implant treatment. We adhere to a strict sterile protocol for infection control.

Is the procedure painful?

With modern anesthesia, you are unlikely to experience any pain during implant placement. Afterwards, discomfort will be based on the extent of your procedure. Most patients tell us the benefits of their implant far outweigh any discomfort they experience. The surgery is quite delicate and the implants placed are tiny, so most patients are very comfortable throughout the procedure.

How will I care for my dental implants?

Your new teeth must be cared for and checked regularly, just like your natural teeth. You will be able to brush and floss as recommended by your dentist or dental hygienist.

What about cost?

While dental implants cost more than traditional restorative dentistry, most patients consider them to be an investment in their future. Not only do they feel better about their physical appearance, they are able to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Furthermore, once a tooth has been replaced, it seldom requires further attention. The same is not always true for conventional restorations. The cost of a 3-unit bridge often must include an endodontic procedure and post and core. In some situations crown lengthening is necessary. These procedures often exceed the yearly maximum for most insurance plans. When this is taken into consideration along with the other benefits associated with dental implants, many patients find themselves choosing dental implants for the future.

Is financing available?

Yes, we can help you set up various means of financing. Please inquire at your consultation visit.

What has led to the increased popularity of dental implants?

Recent advancements have led to predictable, safe and successful treatment. The surgery has become less involved and thus more widely accepted. In many cases only one surgical procedure is necessary. Please review the enclosed article in Clinical Comment for a review of the many recent advancements in implant surgery.