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If you have missing or deteriorating teeth, you may think your only option is to get fitted for dentures. For decades, that was the go-to teeth replacement, but technology in the dental industry has advanced greatly in the last several years.
Today, dental implants are often the better, more secure, more permanent, and more natural alternative to dentures.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants replace the root of a missing tooth and support a replacement tooth. They can be used to replace a single tooth, a few teeth, or all of your teeth, depending on what you need. A metal, screw-like piece of material is used to replace the root, and ceramic crowns are created to replace the teeth. The finished product is a strong, natural-looking set of teeth that functions similarly to your original teeth.
Why Would I Need Dental Implants?
Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is one of the most common dental concerns that can be rectified by dental implants.
Periodontal disease causes damage to the teeth, roots, and gums. When left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss, deteriorating gums, and bone loss. Dental implants can help to address these problems.
Other reasons you might need dental implants:
- A missing tooth or teeth due to a traumatic accident
- A broken tooth or teeth
- Tooth decay
How Does The Dental Implant Procedure Work?
Dental implant surgeries usually require multiple appointments and procedures.
In the first procedure, a periodontist will place metal posts, usually made of titanium, into your jawbone by drilling holes into your jaw, inserting the post, and sewing the gums shut. Then, a process called osseointegration occurs, which happens when a foreign but biocompatible substance integrates into the body. In this case, the dental implant integrates into the jawbone. Successful osseointegration will determine whether or not dental implants are a viable option for you.
If the osseointegration period, which is usually several months, is successful, you can move on to the next phase of dental implants: impressions.
Your periodontist will take impressions to fit your crowns properly. Newer technologies such as intraoral scanners make this part of the process much easier and more comfortable for patients.
Once your crowns have been created, you will then undergo the final phase of dental implants: crown placement. This is when you will see your new smile.
What Are The Risks of Dental Implants?
Like any surgery, dental implants do come with risks. Still, if your periodontist has determined you are a good candidate for dental implants, you will unlikely experience any complications.
Risks for dental implants include:
- Infection in the mouth where the implant was placed
- Nerve damage
- Sinus trouble, if the implants were placed in the upper jaw
- Damage to surrounding teeth or blood vessels
What Are The Benefits of Dental Implants?
Dental implants offer many benefits compared to other dental replacement options like dentures or dental bridges.
Dental implants provide the following benefits:
Because dental implants are permanent, unlike dentures, you don’t have to worry about taking them in and out or the risk of them falling out. Your teeth are in place just like your original teeth.
Missing or decayed teeth are not aesthetically pleasing. Often when patients are missing teeth, they are hesitant to smile or even speak. Dental implants will restore your smile, so you don’t have to hide your teeth anymore, restoring your self-esteem.
3. Better quality of life
With dental implants, you can eat regularly again without worrying about how hard or crunchy your food is. When you are missing teeth or using dentures, what you can and cannot eat is constantly on your mind.
With dental implants, you can eat normally again.
4. Better health
Because dental implants function like regular teeth, you can continue your brushing and flossing routine, keeping your mouth, teeth, and gums healthy. This is difficult to do when you have dentures, which can be detrimental to your oral health.
Dental implants allow you to maintain the type of oral care routine to which you are accustomed.
Types of Dental Implants
Dental implants are not one-size-fits-all. There are a few different types and techniques that periodontists use depending on each patient’s case.
- Endosteal Implants
- Periosteal Implants
- Single Dental Implant and All-On-4 Dental Implants
These are the most common type of dental implants. Endosteal implants use a metal post, abutment, and crown.
The post is inserted into the jawbone, osseointegration allows the bone to adhere to the post, and then the abutment and crown are placed.
This type of dental implant relies on osseointegration to be successful.
Periosteal implants are not inserted into the jawbone. Instead, these implants are laid beneath the gums and soft tissue on top of the jawbone using a metal framework.
Rather than relying on osseointegration, periosteal implants absorb into the gum and soft tissue.
Individual (single implants) and All On 4 Dental Implants
In addition to using different types of material for dental implants, periodontists can also use different techniques, depending on how many teeth need to be replaced and where those teeth are located. They can replace one tooth at a time or several at once.
Individual implants replace one tooth at a time and are ideal if you have only one missing tooth.
All On 4 dental implants are a more recent advancement in the area of dental implants.
Using a bridge prosthesis, the All On 4 dental implant technique can replace all 32 teeth with four implants per arch. This greatly reduces surgical time, recovery time, and expense, benefitting both patient and doctor.
Talk to your periodontist to determine what type of implant you need—endosteal or periosteal—and the best technique to achieve your desired results.
Dental Implants or Dentures?
If you need to replace all of your teeth, you might be wondering what is best for you: dental implants or dentures?
We’ve listed the pros and cons of dental implants and dentures below to give you a better idea of available options.
- They are more affordable than other teeth replacement options.
- They are good for patients without enough bone in their jaw.
- They’re less invasive than the surgical procedures needed for dental implants, typically only requiring teeth removal.
- If they’re not permanent dentures, they’re easily adjustable and can be taken in and out.
- They can shift around and don’t feel as secure as dental implants.
- You may be limited in what you can eat.
- They tend to trap food, making it more difficult to maintain good oral health.
- If you drop your dentures, they will most likely break due to the type of material from which they’re made.
- Even permanent dentures need to be replaced every three to six years because of changes to the underlying bone.
- Implants are considered the gold standard for teeth replacements.
- They are permanent.
- They allow you to live life normally as if all of your original teeth were still intact.
- They have a normal look.
- They require the same maintenance as regular teeth, making oral hygiene easier to maintain.
- There is no limit to what foods you can eat.
- Implants are more expensive than dentures.
- They may require multiple surgeries and procedures.
- There is a risk the implant will not successfully adhere to the jaw.
- Many patients require bone graft surgery before dental implant surgery if they don’t have sufficient bone.
The Importance of X-Rays for Dental Implants
Before getting dental implants, your dentist or periodontist will need to take a series of X-rays.
Several different types of X-rays can be helpful in determining what type of implants you need, how many, whether or not you have enough bone, and whether you will need a bone graft before your implants are placed.
The dental X-ray is the most common and most standard X-ray method for examining your teeth and jaw. You’ve probably had these X-rays taken at your twice-annual cleaning appointments with your dentist, and you will likely need them again as you go through the dental implant process.
Dental X-rays provide two different views of the mouth: periapical and panoramic. Periapical shows just one or two teeth at a time and the surrounding bone. This view is useful for determining the depth of the bone in your jaw and predicting the success of osseointegration.
The panoramic film shows all of the teeth in one view, along with the bones around the teeth and the jawbone. This view will reveal any problems in the bone, such as fractures or weakness, that could be detrimental to the success of the dental implants.
Sinus radiography captures an image of the sinuses. This image is critical because it allows the periodontist to avoid interfering with the sinus cavity in any way while placing the implants.
A CT scan, or computed tomography scan, uses X-ray technology to capture cross images of the body. For dental implants, a periodontist can use a CT scan to virtually place your dental implants before surgery or to identify the location of the sinuses and other important structures.
CT scans will also reveal any blood vessels, tumors, or infections.
How Much Do Dental Implants Cost?
Many factors go into determining how much an individual’s dental implants will cost, including:
- Your periodontist and his or her experience level
- Where you live
- How many teeth need to be replaced
- The health of your jaw and teeth
- How many x-rays needed
- What type of dental implants you will be getting
- Whether or not you will need a bone graft or a sinus lift
According to this crowd-sourced guide, a single implant can cost $3,000 to $5,000 out-of-pocket.
In addition to that, the abutment and crown can cost $500 to $4,000, depending on the materials used. X-rays cost $45 to $350. A CT scan can cost from $250 to $1,300. Any procedures needed outside of the implant procedure, such as a bone graft or teeth extraction, are an additional cost.
The best way to determine how much your dental implants will cost is to set an appointment with your periodontist to determine the best option for your dental health and request an estimated cost for your treatment. You can also find out what costs will be covered by any of your insurance.
Which Dental Implant Is Best for Me?
Are you missing one or several teeth?
Do you want a permanent solution to replace your missing or rotten teeth?
Are you replacing a missing tooth or looking for a complete smile makeover?
I will share three types of dental implants we provide at Cutting Edge Periodontist to help our patients replace a missing tooth or all their teeth with a brand new smile makeover.
What are dental implants?
A dental implant is a small post, often referred to as a screw that is surgically placed within your jawbone just under your gum line. The screw (or post) will fuse with your jawbone, creating a strong foundation for your tooth or smile makeover.
The intent of a dental implant post is to replace your tooth’s missing root. It not only fuses with your bone in your jaw, similar to a root, but it preserves and promotes your bone composition.
At the top of a dental implant post is the restorative tooth. Usually, it is a single dental crown replacing a tooth.
For those with several missing teeth, dental implants with a bridge can be used and can even secure dentures.
As a periodontist and a trained dental implant specialist, it has been my experience that dental implants can often last a lifetime with proper care.
My online Dental Implant Assessment is a free personalized analysis on helping you choose the right dental implant. I share how dental implants have a 98% success rate. For this reason, dental implants are widely recognized by prosthodontists worldwide as the #1 solution for permanently replacing missing teeth.
So which kind of dental implant is right for you?
Dental Implant Insights
In Chapter 7, we shared the three types of dental implants. This section will provide more insight into the procedure and process of getting a dental implant for each of the three types.
A Single Tooth Dental Implant
A single tooth dental implant is often used to replace a single missing tooth. This implant only requires one post and one dental crown.
The Single Tooth Dental Implant Process
You will meet with me (Dr. Diana Sedler) to determine if you are a good candidate for dental implants. A good candidate is a person in good general health, who does not have diabetes, is not a heavy smoker, and has sufficient bone density to support a dental implant. If you are a good candidate, I will create a personalized treatment plan tailored to you.
A post (usually titanium) will be placed within your jawbone using surgical-guided technology. You will not experience any pain during this procedure. We will help you to be comfortable throughout the surgical process. The estimated healing time for your new post to fuse with your jawbone is generally three to four months.
If desired, a temporary dental crown is created while you are in the dental chair and placed with an abutment on the post.
Once your mouth has healed, your new custom-designed crown replaces the temporary tooth. Your new tooth will look and feel just like your surrounding teeth.
Unlike other tooth restorations, a single tooth dental implant replaces your entire missing tooth from root to crown.
If you have one missing tooth or multiple missing teeth that are not adjacent to each other, then a single tooth dental implant is likely your best option.
If, however, you have multiple missing teeth adjacent to each other, this is likely not the ideal solution.
Additionally, the next type of dental implant may save you money if you have many missing teeth.
Implant-Supported Bridge for Replacing Multiple Teeth
When you have several missing teeth adjacent to each other, you may find the ideal option is an implant-supported bridge.
What is a dental bridge?
A dental bridge generally consists of two crowns on either side of your missing tooth gap with an artificial tooth held by those crowns in between.
Instead of having the dental crowns attach to teeth, an implant-supported bridge has crowns that connect to dental implants.
The process is very similar to a single tooth dental implant that I described above. However, the teeth missing in the middle of the gap will not receive a dental implant.
The main benefit of an implant-supported bridge is that we can securely replace multiple missing teeth in a row without the cost of replacing each tooth with an implant.
The downside is not all your teeth will receive an implant, and therefore you will have some bone resorption.
If most of your teeth are missing or rotten, the next option is the solution for you.
Implant-Retained Denture: To replace all your teeth
If you are missing all your teeth or most of your teeth in an arch, either upper teeth or lower teeth, then an implant-retained denture (All On 4 dental implants) is likely the ideal solution.
What are implant-retained dentures?
A denture is a fabricated arch of teeth that lies on your gum line. It provides you with the appearance of a full set of teeth.
Traditional dentures are known for various problems and issues that include falling out, slipping, clicking, and just not making it easy to eat or talk without complications.
A resolution to traditional dentures’ problems is an implant-retained denture used to permanently secure your denture with dental implants.