What Are Dental Implants?
When a tooth is missing, a dental implant functions as a substitute tooth root to maintain the integrity of the bone and adjacent teeth. The implant is a titanium screw or post that is inserted into the jawbone. Titanium is a biocompatible material, meaning that it is readily accepted by the body and easily fuses with existing bone. There is minimal chance of an allergic reaction, and if that is a concern, zirconia implants are a non-metallic option. Titanium is incredibly strong and durable, and does not deteriorate over time, creating a stable foundation for replacement teeth.
How Do Dental Implants Work?
There are three parts to a dental implant: the post or implant, the abutment, and the crown. The titanium post is inserted into the jaw, where it fuses with the surrounding bone through a process called osseointegration. Once the new bone has grown and the implant is held firmly in place, the abutment is attached. This is a small cap that connects the implant to the crown. The crown is the replacement tooth that fits on top of the abutment and blends in with adjacent teeth to form a full smile. Dental implants look and function like natural teeth.
Benefits of Dental Implants
- Prevent Bone Loss and Deterioration: Dental implants function as a tooth root and provide stimulation to the surrounding bone to prevent resorption or deterioration that can occur when the natural root is missing.
- Look and Feel like Natural Teeth: Replacement teeth are manufactured to blend in with existing teeth, and the implant creates a stable foundation so they will not slip or move out of place.
- Long-Lasting and Reliable: Dental implants have a success rate of at least 95%, and studies have shown that they can last for 40 years or more with proper care.
- Improved Ability to Chew: Unlike other tooth replacement options, dental implants are anchored in place and should not slip or move when eating tough or sticky foods.
Ideal Candidates for Dental Implants
With advancements in technology and how dental implant surgery is performed, there are very few conditions that would preclude a patient from receiving dental implants. If you have missing teeth and are in good overall health, you may be an ideal candidate. Any chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure should be well managed prior to surgery. Low bone density or mass could be a risk factor, but bone grafts can be used to address bone loss and build a stronger foundation making dental implants a feasible option.
Anterior Tooth Implant
Single Posterior Tooth Replacement Implant
The Dental Implant Process
There are four main steps in the dental implant process, and our doctors take the time to answer any questions or concerns you may have.
- Examination: The doctor will examine your mouth using x-rays, images, or impressions to determine if you are a good candidate for dental implants and discuss your options. They will evaluate the underlying bone and number of implants needed to develop a precise treatment plan that includes extractions and bone grafting if necessary.
- Extractions: If a tooth is severely damaged or decayed, or you are preparing for implant-supported replacement options, these teeth will be extracted prior to implant surgery. You may be able to have immediate implant placement, or surgery will be scheduled for a few weeks later once the empty socket has filled in with new bone.
- Implant Placement: With immediate implant placement, the implant is placed in the empty socket following extraction, or a small hole is drilled for the implant. Bone grafting material is added to fill any gaps. Surgery takes between 30 and 60 minutes for one implant, and two to three hours for multiple implants.
- Restoration: A temporary crown may be placed following surgery for aesthetic purposes until osseointegration is completed. Once the implant and bone have fused, a restorative dentist will attach a permanent crown that is crafted to the precise size, shape, and color necessary to blend in with adjacent teeth.
Supporting Treatment for Dental Implants
- Bone Grafting: Successful dental implant placement requires sufficient bone quantity and quality. The longer a tooth is missing, the more bone deterioration occurs. The bone naturally resorbs since there is no stimulation from a tooth root or implant. A bone graft can be used to strengthen weak areas, widen the foundation for the implant, and improve the contour of the bony ridge. Real or synthetic bone graft material is applied and secured in place. It takes several weeks until the new bone growth is strong enough to support dental implant placement. Bone grafting can enable patients with bone loss to receive implants.
- All-On-4: For patients who are missing multiple teeth, or all of their natural teeth (edentulism), it can be beneficial to replace the entire upper or lower arch with a dental prosthetic. All-on-4 treatment is used to hold replacement teeth in place using just four dental implants. Two implants are inserted vertically in the front of the mouth, and two are inserted at an angle in the back of the mouth to create a stable foundation for a fixed prosthetic. This can be more cost-effective than multiple individual implants and provide a more comfortable alternative to removable dentures.
Are Dental Implants Safe?
Dental implants have been safely used for tooth replacement and restoration for more than 50 years. The titanium used for the implant is biocompatible and non-toxic, so it is readily accepted by the body. The risk of rejection is incredibly low at around 2% to 5%, and the benefits of replacing missing teeth are significant.
Is Dental Implant Surgery Painful?
Our doctors strive to make the dental implant process as relaxing and comfortable as possible by offering various sedation options. A local anesthetic is applied to numb the area where the implant will be inserted. Then, either nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or intravenous sedation is administered to help you relax and remain pain-free during surgery.
What is the Recovery from Dental Implants Like?
Following dental implant surgery, your jaw will be sore, but many patients equate it to the discomfort of having a tooth extracted. Typically, over-the-counter pain relievers are enough to manage any pain. Since it takes several weeks for the implant to integrate, you will want to stick to a liquid or soft food diet at first. This will minimize the risk of disrupting the healing process. You can slowly transition back to your normal diet as tolerable while avoiding chewing at the implant site. Your permanent crown or prosthetic will be affixed after about three months.
What is the Cost of Dental Implants?
The cost of dental implants will vary from one person to the next. It is based on multiple factors, including the number of implants needed, whether extraction or bone grafting is necessary, pre- and post-operative care, and any coverage from dental insurance. Your doctor can give you a more specific quote following your consultation and discuss payment plans or financing options.
Are Dental Implants Worth it Compared to the Alternatives?
Dental implants provide significant benefits over alternative tooth replacement options such as dentures, partials, and bridges. They are the only option that prevents bone loss by replacing the tooth root and promoting bone stimulation, and they do not compromise or damage adjacent teeth. While they may be more costly upfront, in the long term, they can be more cost-effective because implants do not need to be replaced as they become part of the jawbone. Dental implants are a long-term solution that function and are cared for just like natural teeth.
Why Choose Mosaic Oral Surgery for Dental Implants?
Our doctors are passionate about providing high-quality, compassionate care to each and every patient. They have extensive training and experience in dental implantology to precisely place implants and restore oral function and aesthetics. Processes and procedures are carefully explained, so patients know exactly what to expect and can make informed decisions about their oral health.
If you would like to know more about Dental Implants, contact our office located in New Port Richey, Clearwater, or Westchase/Tampa at (727) 842-5180, (727) 791-6529 or (813) 749-0930.