Dental implants are changing the way people live. They are designed to provide a foundation for replacement teeth that look, feel, and function like natural teeth.
Dental implants allow the person who has lost teeth to regain the ability to eat virtually anything. Knowing that the teeth will appear natural and that facial contours will be preserved, patients with dental implants can smile with confidence.
What Are Dental Implants?
The implants themselves are tiny titanium posts that are surgically placed into the jawbone where teeth are missing. These metal anchors act as tooth root substitutes. The bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth. Small posts that emerge from the gums are then attached to the implant. These posts provide stable anchors for artificial replacement teeth.
Did you know?
Implants also help preserve facial structure, preventing bone deterioration that occurs when teeth are missing.
The Surgical Procedure
For most patients, the placement of dental implants involves two surgical procedures. First, implants are placed within your jawbone. For the first three to six months following surgery, the implants are beneath the surface of the gums gradually bonding with the jawbone. You should be able to wear temporary dentures and eat a soft diet during this time. At the same time, your dentist is forming new replacement teeth.
After the implant has bonded to the jawbone, the second phase begins. Drs. Benninger, Schween, and Schmidt will uncover the implants and attach small posts that emerge from the gums that will act as anchors for the artificial teeth. When the artificial teeth are placed, these posts will not be seen. The entire procedure usually takes six to eight months. Most patients experience minimal disruption in their daily life.
Using the most recent advances in dental implant technology, Drs. Benninger, Schween, and Schmidt are sometimes able to place single stage implants. These implants do not require a second procedure to uncover them, but do require a minimum of six weeks of healing time before artificial teeth are placed. There are even situations where the implants can be placed at the same time as a tooth extraction – further minimizing the number of surgical procedures.
Dental implant placement is a team effort between an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and a restorative dentist. While Drs. Benninger, Schween, and Schmidt perform the actual implant surgery, initial tooth extractions, and bone grafting if necessary, the restorative dentist (your dentist) fits and makes the temporary or permanent prosthesis.
What Types Of Replacement Teeth Are Available?
A single prosthesis (crown) is used to replace one missing tooth – each prosthetic tooth attaches to its own implant. A partial prosthesis (fixed bridge) can replace two or more teeth and may require only two or three implants. A complete dental prosthesis (fixed bridge) replaces all the teeth in your upper or lower jaw. The number of implants varies depending upon which type of complete prosthesis (removable or fixed) is recommended. A removable prosthesis (over denture) attaches to a bar or ball-in-socket attachments, whereas a fixed prosthesis is permanent and removable only by the dentist.
Did you know?
A Swedish scientist and orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Per-Ingvar Branemark developed this concept for oral rehabilitation more than 35 years ago. With his pioneering research, Dr. Branemark opened the door to a lifetime of renewed comfort and self-confidence for millions of individuals facing the frustration and embarrassment of tooth loss.
Why Select Dental Implants Over More Traditional Types Of Restorations?
There are several reasons:
- Dental implants keep the structure of surrounding good teeth intact, rather than alternative restorations that might damage the structure of surrounding teeth in order to bridge a space.
- Removing a denture or a “partial” at night may be inconvenient.
- Dentures that slip can be uncomfortable and embarrassing.
Dental implants can be your doorway to renewed self-confidence and peace of mind.
What Type Of Anesthesia Is Used?
The majority of dental implant and bone grafting procedures can be performed in the office under local anesthesia, with or without general anesthesia.
Do Implants Need Special Care?
Once the implants are in place, they will serve you well for many years if you take care of them and keep your mouth healthy. This means taking the time for good oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) and keeping regular appointments with your dentist.
How much does a dental implant cost?
The short answer is... it depends.
What does it depend on?
- the location of the implant in the jaw
- whether the bone has been resorbed and requires bone grafting
- any other health conditions that might cause complications
- the cost of the actual implant and crown
- the type of anesthesia required
Placing a dental implant requires a number of steps, generally involving several professionals:
- Bone graft or site preservation
- Placing the dental implant
- Placing the crown
- Office visits, x-rays, pre- and post-surgical care
Continuing Cost of Bridges and Dentures
While bridges and dentures are less expensive at the outset, you should consider that both options often have considerable continuing expenses. Bridges, by their structure, cut down the neighboring abutment teeth - which can lead to weakness and repeated treatments. Dentures cannot preserve the jaw bone the way dental implants can, so the jaw shrinks as the bone is resorbed, leading to ill-fitting dentures and repeated rounds of re-fitting and re-placing.
Over a lifetime, dental implants can be the cost-effective (as well as aesthetic) choice.
Financing for Dental Implants
First, check with your dental insurance carrier to see what portion, if any, of dental implants they cover.
There are health care credit companies that offer no-interest and low-interest loans for medical procedures including dental implants. Drs. Benninger, Schween, & Schmidt participate with CareCredit. Please ask one of our staff members for more information.
Dental implants are an investment in your health as well as your appearance. A full set of teeth makes eating a pleasure again, making it easier to eat a balanced, healthy diet. A full set of teeth also preserves the contours of the face, keeping you from looking old before your time.
You'll want to discuss all your options with your dentist and oral surgeon.