What Is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is an appliance that is placed below the gumline to act as a replacement tooth root. Implants provide a strong foundation for fixed replacement teeth like crowns or to help with retention of removable appliances. Once restored, esthetically and functionally, they are made to mimic your natural teeth.
How Can You Benefit from Dental Implants?
There are many benefits to dental implants, including:
- Improved appearance.
- Improved speech. With poor-fitting dentures, the appliance can slip within the mouth causing you to mumble or slur your words. Dental implants allow you to speak without the worry that dental appliances might slip.
- Improved comfort. Because they become part of you, implants eliminate the discomfort of removable dentures.
- Easier eating. Sliding dentures can make chewing difficult. Dental implants function like your own teeth, allowing you to eat your favorite foods with confidence and without pain.
- Improved self-esteem. Dental implants can give you back your smile and help you feel better about yourself.
- Improved oral health. Dental implants don’t require reducing other teeth, as a tooth-supported bridge does. Because nearby teeth are not altered to support the implant, more of your own teeth are left intact, improving the long-term prognosis of your restoration. Individual implants also allow for easier flossing, improving oral hygiene.
- Durability. Implants are very durable and can last many years.
- Convenience. Removable dentures are just that; removable. Dental implants eliminate the embarrassing inconvenience of removing dentures, as well as the need for messy adhesives to keep them in place. In cases where a denture is the only option, strategically placed implants can help with retention of removable dentures, thus making it easier to chew and improving speech.
How Successful Are Dental Implants?
Success rates of dental implants vary, depending on many factors, such as location of the implants, the health of the individual, destructive oral habits such as grinding or clenching, drug interactions and oral hygiene. In general, dental implants have a high success rate.
Am I a Good Candidate for a Dental Implant?
In most cases, anyone healthy enough to undergo a routine dental extraction or oral surgery can be considered for a dental implant. Patients should have healthy gums and enough bone to support the implant. They also must be committed to good oral hygiene and regular dental visits. Heavy smokers, people who are taking or have taken drugs for osteoporosis in the past, people suffering from uncontrolled chronic disorders — such as diabetes or heart disease — or patients who have had radiation therapy to the head/neck area need to be evaluated on an individual basis. It is important to inform Dr. Klooster of any drugs you are either taking or have taken. If you are considering implants, request an implant consultation with our doctors to see if they are right for you.
Does Insurance Cover the Cost of Dental Implants?
Most dental insurance companies at least partially cover dental implants and crowns. Our front desk coordinators can help you understand what your dental insurance policy covers. Coverage under your medical plan may be possible, depending on the insurance plan and/or cause of tooth loss. Detailed questions about your individual needs and how they relate to insurance should be discussed with our front desk staff and your insurance provider.
What Is Involved in Getting a Dental Implant?
The first step in the dental implant process is the development of an individualized treatment plan. The plan addresses your specific needs and is prepared by Dr. Wall or Dr. Klooster. Once the implant is placed, has healed and is ready to restore, our doctors will design the final appliance , whether it is an implant-supported crown or fixed bridge or removable denture. The entire implant process is performed over the course of a few months. The first part of the process is to install the implant itself, where a screw is placed into the jaw bone. An incision is made in the gum so that the implant can be inserted. Multiple implants can be placed at once, if necessary. After the implants are placed the gums are sutured. The implant must be allowed about three months to heal, and during this time the jaw bone will form around the implant in a process called osseointegration.
Once the implant has healed it is time to place an abutment on the implant. The abutment serves as the base for your new tooth. Once this is placed, an impression of the abutment is taken and is used to create your permanent restoration. Once the restoration is completed you can return to our office to place the permanent restoration.
Your smile will look very natural. Most patients get used to the implant immediately or within a short period of time.
What Is Expected During the Procedure ?
As the bone heals, it grows or integrates with the implanted metal post, anchoring it securely into the bone. The healing process can take from three to four months.
Once the implant is ready to restore, you will return to the office to place the final restoration. Dr. Wall or Dr. Klooster will place an abutment, which is a small connector post to securely hold the new tooth. To make the new tooth or teeth, our doctors obtain impressions of your teeth, and create a model of your bite (which captures all of your teeth, their type, and arrangement). The new tooth or teeth is based on this model. A replacement tooth, called a crown, is then attached to the abutment.
Instead of one or more individual crowns, some patients may have attachments placed on the implant that retain and support a removable denture.
Dr. Wall or Dr. Klooster will also match the color of the new teeth to your natural teeth. Because the implant is secured within the jawbone, the replacement teeth look, feel, and function as close as possible to your own natural teeth.
Are Dental Implants Uncomfortable?
Most people who have received dental implants say that there is very little discomfort involved in the procedure. Local anesthesia can be used during the procedure, and most patients report that implants involve less pain than a tooth extraction.
After the dental implant, mild soreness can be treated with over-the-counter pain medications, such as Tylenol or Motrin.
How Do I Care for Dental Implants?
Dental implants require the same care as real teeth, including brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups.