What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a surgical procedure in which a titanium fixture is inserted into the jaw bone to act as an artificial tooth root and anchor a false tooth, or crown, permanently in place. It is an effective alternative to less permanent tooth replacement procedures. While a bit more invasive, it can provide the function of a convincingly natural tooth in appearance and use for a patient’s lifetime.
What is a mini dental implant?
A mini dental implant is similar in concept to a regular dental implant, but it serves a slightly different function. For one, it is much smaller — usually about half the size of a regular implant — and can be used either as an additional support structure for a standard implant or as a temporary support structure for a procedure employed to restructure the positioning of the teeth.
If you are in a position where you would consider having a dental implant but don’t know where to start, this guide will give you all the information you need to make an educated decision on your dental care options.
Why you might need a dental implant
There are a variety of reasons that may warrant the imposition of a dental implant. Of course, the general reason why someone would require an implant is to replace a missing tooth. That said, teeth can become injured and unusable or lost for a variety of reasons.
These include but are not limited to, the following:
- Tooth injury, usually caused by external trauma to the mouth
- Root canal failure
- Poor dental hygiene leading to periodontal disease (gum disease)
- Tooth decay
- Excessive wear and tear degrading teeth over time
While there are many reasons that someone might be a good candidate for a dental implant, there are also additional factors to consider. These can have a profound effect on the success of the surgery and the steps required for treatment.
Some things to consider when exploring one’s options for dental implants include the following:
- The number and location of teeth missing
- The preference for or against temporary or removable options such as dentures
- The health and maturation of the jawbones — to ensure that there is enough bone to support the implant
- The potential need for additional bone grafting if the jaw is not strong enough
- The time required for proper healing in between each step
- Preexisting health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, or a history of smoking could influence the process or efficacy of your surgery
- And general factors such as cost, insurance policies, and personal preference, and overall oral health
How a dental implant works
Implant dentistry is relatively complicated, but knowing the basics of this procedure can help make it easier to understand. Depending on your personal situation and preferences, some of these steps can be performed together.
Here is the standard outline:
- First, find a dentist, oral surgeon, or combined team to perform the surgery. A preliminary consultation will help you ensure your treatment plan is prepared before committing to the surgery.
- Depending on whether some part of a damaged tooth is still present, the initial procedure will likely require removing the affected tooth from the area where the implant is to be inserted.
- Step two is to prepare any required bone grafting. This is not always needed and is often done alongside the removal of damaged teeth, should that step be necessary. If only limited grafting is required, it can also sometimes be done along with the insertion of the actual implant. The healing process for bone grafting can take between three and nine months.
What is a bone graft for dental implants?
Bone grafting is a procedure used to strengthen the jawbone at the insertion site. It entails moving natural bone from somewhere else, such as a different part of the jaw, or using synthetic bone to bolster the area that will contain the implant.
In most cases, limited grafting is required not just in patients with conditions that could result in bone loss.
- Next is the insertion of the actual implant. This procedure entails cutting into the gum to expose the bone, drilling into the jaw, and inserting a titanium implant, which will function in place of the root of a natural tooth.
- This implant style is referred to as an endosteal implant and is the primary kind of implant used in procedures today. In the past, an implant that attached to the surface of the bone, known as subperiosteal, was also possible, but this style is now considered less effective.
- This step can take a while to heal, as osseointegration — or the fusing of the implant with the jaw bone — needs to occur before further dentistry can proceed. Not allowing for adequate osseointegration is one of the primary causes of implant failure. This process can take at little six weeks, or as long as six months, so be prepared to wait.
- Once osseointegration has occurred, one more procedure must be performed before the new tooth can be attached. This intermediary step entails the attachment of an abutment, which serves as the anchor that will hold the crown in place. After the abutment is inserted, the gum tissue will usually need another two weeks to heal before the crown itself can be attached.
The abutment can also be attached as a part of the implant procedure. Still, since it sticks out above the gum, a removable artificial tooth is sometimes used to preserve esthetics before the permanent crown can be attached.
How is a crown attached to a dental implant?
A crown is attached to a dental implant through a small device called an abutment. This piece is essentially screwed into the implant itself, usually in a secondary procedure, and after proper healing, the crown can be cemented to this connector.
- Once the gums have healed, and proper anchoring devices are in place, a mold of the mouth is taken to allow the dentist or prosthodontist (who specializes in oral prosthetics) to create a realistic crown. The artificial tooth is matched in look and feel to your other teeth and fitted to the available space to ensure maximum comfort and function.
- Finally, the new crown can be attached. There are two types of dentally-implanted crown options. The first is a fixed or permanent tooth, which would function identically to the natural teeth and require the same treatment and care. The second is a removable denture-like option, which is snapped into place and can be taken out for daily cleaning.
What does a dental implant look like?
A dental implant looks exactly like a regular tooth to the untrained eye. Under an x-ray, though, the anchor of the implant would become evident. There are three main parts to a dental implant. First is the implanted portion itself, which functions just like any tooth root. This can look like a screw, a plain cylinder, or a bladed piece. The second part is the abutment, which attaches the crown to the implanted root. Finally, the replacement tooth is anchored on to appear like any ordinary tooth.
How long does a dental implant procedure take?
The dental implant procedure can take a few months from start to finish. Each step is fairly short and simple, but the recovery required between stages adds weeks onto the timeline. This means that getting a dental implant can take anywhere from two months to a year from start to finish — definitely one of the more prolonged procedures in modern dentistry.
It is important to consult with dentists and oral surgeons before deciding on an implant. Individual circumstances can make a huge difference in the time it takes and the steps required.
How much is a dental implant?
The price range for dental implant surgery is varied. It depends on the professionals involved, the individual’s particular requirements (i.e. how many replacement teeth are necessary, if extensive both grafting is required, personal preference, etc.), and the individual’s insurance.
Since dental implant surgery is considered an elective procedure, it will not usually be covered by insurance, but if circumstances strongly require it, you may be able to get at least partial coverage.
How much does a dental implant cost for one tooth
For one tooth, a conservative estimate suggests $3,000 but consult with your insurance and your dental health providers to make sure that you get a tailored cost estimate prior to deciding on the surgery.
What to expect after dental implant surgery
Dental implant surgery can take a while, and some of the steps are rather invasive. As with any oral surgery, you can expect a few aftereffects. You may have swelling or bruising around the affected area, and you may even experience some minor bleeding.
Immediately after the surgery, you will want to ice the area to minimize pain and swelling, be gentle with your teeth, and consistent in your dental hygiene, brushing, and flossing as best as possible. This will maximize the likelihood that your procedure is a success.
How long you could be in pain after dental implant surgery?
After the local anesthesia wears off following your surgery, you will likely be in mild pain for a few hours. While the amount of time will vary from person to person, you can expect the area to be sore to the touch for a few days afterward as well.
Some patients find that the pain is comparable to that of tooth extraction. If that is a procedure that you have had before, it could serve as an adequate benchmark for what to expect in this case.
How long does swelling last after a dental implant?
Swelling can last for a few days, especially after receiving the implant of the root post. The main thing to be sure of is that the swelling gets better over time, rather than worsening in days following the procedure.
If you do notice a marked increase in swelling over time, follow-up with your dental surgeon, as this could indicate complications such as infection.
What to eat after dental implant surgery?
After dental implant surgery, you will want to prioritize soft foods. Liquids, especially cold ones, will be kindest to your recovery. Keep in mind, however, that you do not want to use straws or anything similar, given that sucking on a straw can result in the reopening of your wounds.
How long does a dental implant last?
A fixed (permanent) dental implant can last the patient’s whole life. The procedure itself has around a 98% success rate, and as long as the dental implant is able to fuse with the bone, it should cause no further problems. Preexisting health conditions or a history of smoking can cause complications for this osseointegration, but with adequate transparency, proper precautions, and good oral hygiene, it is possible.
If you do not want a permanent implant, removable crowns are also an available and practical option.
How to find a dental implant specialist?
Finding the right dental team is integral to success and comfort with the procedure. While any general dentist can theoretically perform the surgery, a dental surgeon would be your preferred option. You may also want to consult with other specialists such as:
- An oral and maxillofacial surgeon who specializes in conditions of the mouth and face
- A periodontist, who specializes in the gums and bones supporting the teeth
- A prosthodontist who works with the oral prosthesis
- Or an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor
Through cardsdental.com, you can find a selection of qualified professionals in your area who can ensure that your experience is as streamlined and comfortable as possible.
Even with modern improvements in dentistry, implant surgery is a complex procedure that entails a lot of consideration prior to commitment. However, if you don’t enjoy the feel of dentures, bridges, or other tooth-replacement methods, it may be the best option for you.
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