What to Expect with Dental Implants
What are dental implants?
An implant is an artificial tooth root, which is placed in two parts. The first is a tiny titanium screw that is surgically implanted in the jawbone. As the bone tissue heals, it fuses with the titanium, in a process known as osseointegration. The next part is a small post, called an abutment, which connects to the screw. The last component to be added is the only part that is visible, the replacement tooth or teeth. This may be a single crown, a bridge unit, or a denture plate. For patients who are missing all teeth in an arch, the denture can be supported by as few as four implants, using a technique known as full arch dental implants.
What are the advantages of dental implants?
There are many benefits to this tooth replacement technique. The most important are:
- Your new teeth are secured in place, so they function and look like natural teeth.
- You will enjoy a precise fit, with no need for adhesives and no risk of slipping.
- Your facial features are preserved, and your beautiful smile is restored.
- Implant supported restorations do not damage your healthy teeth.
- Dental implants mimic the action of natural roots, which prevents bone loss around the missing teeth.
- The implants and the replacement teeth can be placed in the same appointment.
- With good hygiene and dental care, your new smile can last a lifetime.
- Improve your health, confidence, appearance, and ability to eat anything you want.
How successful is dental implant treatment?
The average success rate, which is defined as full integration between the dental implant and jawbone, is over 97 percent. In the rare event that an implant comes loose, it can be removed and replaced with another one positioned slightly differently.
What does the implant process involve?
The traditional method is completed in several phases. First is the examination and treatment planning, followed by the implant placement surgery. The bone is allowed to heal completely and fuse with the implant before prosthetic teeth are added. On average, this method takes a year or more to complete.
The newer and more advanced technique utilizes cutting-edge technology such as 3D CAT scans and improved design and treatment protocols. As a result, we can add your brand new teeth on the same day that we place the implants, greatly reducing the overall treatment time.
Does the procedure hurt?
As with any surgical procedure, some pain or discomfort is to be expected. However, this is a very minor surgery performed by exceptionally skilled professionals. We use local anesthetic, along with oral or IV sedation if you wish, to keep you comfortable during the surgery.
Post-procedure discomfort is minimal, because the prosthesis rests on the implants rather than the gum tissue, avoiding the irritation that is associated with traditional dentures and other restorative options. Patients often compare it to the feeling after having a tooth extracted.
Who performs the surgery? Where will I go to receive treatment?
Any licensed dentist can place or restore implants, but it is a complex procedure requiring precision accuracy to achieve optimal results. Many general dentists send their patients to oral surgeons or other specialists for certain phases of the process. Although these specialists may have additional training and implant experience, they tend to have a very narrow focus. A surgeon is at a disadvantage if he or she did not create the treatment plan. Similarly, if the dentist restoring the implant did not place it, he or she may be unaware of any special considerations or problems that were encountered.
In our office, we provide comprehensive implant treatment. Diagnostics, planning, surgery, and restoration are all completed right here, by the dentist you know and trust. Because implants are the heart of our practice, we have completed specialized training, and performed countless implant procedures. We follow through on what we begin, so we are familiar with your case, and we can detect and prevent any potential problems early in the process, thus avoiding the issues that often come with fragmented treatment at different offices.
How much do dental implants cost? Will my insurance cover the treatment?
The total cost will vary depending on the number of teeth you are replacing, the type of restoration, and any additional procedures such as bone grafting that may be needed. On average, the cost is a few thousand dollars for each implant, but you may not need a separate implant for each missing tooth. When restoring an entire arch, 14 teeth can be supported by just four to six dental implants.
We strive to keep costs low, but we will not sacrifice quality. We buy supplies in bulk, and we have all necessary technology on site, making our practice one of the most affordable places to get dental implants. During your consultation, we will explain the projected dental implant cost of the recommended treatment plan, and we will work with you to develop a solution that meets your needs and fits your budget. Many insurance policies include dental implants, but the amount of coverage is usually limited to what they would pay for a bridge or traditional denture.
How should I take care of my new teeth and dental implants?
Implant-supported restorations need the same care that natural teeth do, although a different flossing technique will be necessary. We will be happy to answer any questions and teach you the most effective hygiene techniques. Dental checkups and regular cleanings are still vital to your oral health.
Am I too old for implant treatment?
NO! The age of the patient does not appear to be a factor in the success of treatment. Bone healing and fusion with implants in patients from 60 to 100+ years old occurs at nearly the same rate as it does in young patients.
The only thing that may prevent an elderly (or younger) patient from receiving implants is general health problems. Certain medical conditions may preclude treatment. Prior to recommending treatment, we will review your medical history, and may request specific information or a release from your general physician. In most cases, implants are a wonderful, health-giving treatment for elderly patients, enabling them to eat a proper diet, enjoy their favorite foods, and feel confident in their smiles.
How can it only take 2 – 4 days? Doesn’t it have to heal?
Now is the time of modern implantology. You don’t have to be healed completely. Giving exercise and stimulus to the implants from day one leads to faster healing and lower implant failure rates. From all the knowledge that’s been gathered over the last 30 years, the current state of knowledge is we want to load the implants ASAP instead of waiting for healing because healing is better when implant is loaded immediately.
Why does it only take 2 – 4 days to make the teeth?
We have all the milling machines in-office. There’s no need to outsource with another dental lab.
How long do the teeth take to heal?
It takes 4 – 5 months to completely heal, so you will be on a soft diet until that time.
What insurance do you accept?
We accept all PPO insurance, including Delta Dental, Humana, Cigna, Metlife, Principal, Aetna, and more. We do not accept HMO, Medi-Cal, or Medicare.
I can’t afford dental implants, do you offer payment plans?
We offer third party financing and we can check if you qualify over the phone or when you come to our office. See www.bayareaimplantdentistry.com/affordability for more information.