Many patients are confused about what a dental implant is. |
The dental implant itself is a titanium post that a dentist essentially screws into the jawbone to replace a missing tooth root. In and of itself, it does not replace the visible part of the tooth. In fact, what people usually consider a dental implant is actually comprised of three parts: the tooth root, a connector (abutment), and a prosthetic tooth, such as a dental crown or fixed bridge.
In this article, we will provide answers to the top 7 questions regarding dental implants.
Question #1: Do I Need a Periodontist to Place My Dental Implant?
Legally, any licensed dentist can place a dental implant, and many dentists will tell you they have received the education and training required to perform dental implant surgery. While that may be true, we want you to consider the facts.
Periodontists and oral surgeons are the only two specialties in dentistry that specialize in surgically placing implants.
Many dentists boast about a special course they completed (many of them are completed in a weekend) that qualifies them to place implants. This may be true for simple dental implants, but periodontists and oral surgeons receive an additional three to four years of specific training after dental school. Also, because they specialize in implants, they place many more of them on a daily, weekly, and annual basis. Therefore, they not only have more advanced training and education, but much more experience.
If your dentist says you need a dental implant and offers to place it for you, you may want to find out their experience and success rates. It is your job to do the research, including asking questions, getting clarifications, and looking at reviews. The truth is, one of the most important aspects of successful dental implants is the dentist who places it. Finding the best specialist gives you the highest chance of long-term success.
You also want to consider how complex your dental implant needs are. For instance, do you require a bone graft before implant placement?
Question #2: Why do I need a bone graft before the dental implant is placed? Since a dental implant is placed into your jawbone, a successful implant requires sufficient bone tissue.
The tooth root does more than hold a tooth in place. It stimulates your jawbone to keep it healthy. When you lose a tooth, whether from dental decay, gum disease, or trauma, the missing tooth root means the loss of bone stimulation. This leads to bone deterioration.
If it has been a long time since you lost your tooth, you may have enough bone deterioration that you need a procedure to build the bone back up. Several procedures can help with this, such as a bone graft, bone regeneration procedures, and reconstructive surgery.
If you need more bone tissue, a board-certified periodontist offers the best options that lead to a successful dental implant.
Question #3: Will people notice my dental implant?
The complete restoration of a missing tooth includes three processes. The first is the placement of the dental implant into the jawbone. Since the dentist places the post in your jawbone, no one will be able to see it. You will, however, continue to have a gap between the teeth from the missing "visible part" of the tooth.
Many dentists will place a temporary crown, or cap, so that you no longer have a gap.
The implant requires approximately three to six months to fully integrate into becoming a permanent part of your jaw in a process called osseointegration. Once the implant completely fuses to your bone, the dentist will place a connector, also called an abutment.
The final step involves the placement of a prosthetic dental crown or fixed bridge. The dentist will take dental impressions and match the color and shape of your remaining natural teeth. Once the prosthetic is fabricated, the dentist will affix it to the abutment.
At this point, your new tooth will feel and look completely natural. No one, not even you, should be able to tell you have an implant.
Question #4: What is a dental implant made of?
Dental implants are made of a titanium alloy that is similar to what orthopedic surgeons use for knee, hip, and shoulder implants. While many people fear anything to do with "metal," the facts are clear. Titanium is non-toxic and highly biocompatible with the human body. In addition, it will not corrode or disintegrate within the human body environment (blood and body fluids).
In fact, titanium actually promotes bone cell growth. This means that when titanium is placed in your body, it will stimulate bone growth around it, fusing the titanium to your bone.
In addition, titanium allergies are extremely rare. Bottom line: there are no proven alternatives to titanium for implants in today's market.
Question #5: How long will a dental implant last? Dental implants are the only "permanent" tooth restoration available. While the abutment or prosthetic tooth (crown or bridge) may wear out or break after 15-25 years, the implant should last a lifetime. There are, however, some things that can affect the life of your dental implant.
Proper care, such as daily oral hygiene (brushing, flossing, and routine dental visits) and good nutrition improve the life of all restorations. Poor oral hygiene can lead to gum disease and dental decay, which can cause problems with restorations, just as they cause problems for natural teeth.
In addition, it is known that certain things increase the chance of dental implant failure. Examples include tobacco use, heavy alcohol intake, and certain medications or medical conditions. If any of these are an issue for you, discuss this with your dentist.
Question #6: Why would I need a dental implant?
If you are missing a tooth or teeth, the gaps left behind affect your remaining teeth. They can shift and move, which can cause your teeth to become crooked. It is much harder to perform proper oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) on crooked, crowded teeth, which increases your risk of dental decay and gum disease. Both of these can cause further problems, such as receding gums and further loss of bone and teeth. Also, crooked teeth can affect your bite, which negatively impacts your speech, diet, and nutrition.
Just replacing the "visible part" of the tooth is not enough. As already stated, the tooth root stimulates healthy bone tissue. A missing tooth root leads to loss of bone tissue, which puts you at risk for further tooth loss and leads to a sunken-in appearance in your face.
A dental implant replaces the tooth root and the visible part of the tooth so that you can have a strong, healthy, beautiful smile.
Question #7: How much does a dental implant cost?
Cost for dental implants can vary, especially if you need a procedure or surgery to regenerate or build bone tissue. This is a major reason why it is important to replace a tooth as soon as possible-before bone deterioration occurs.
The cost for the surgical placement of one implant can vary anywhere between $2000-$3500, depending on a number of factors, including the need for bone augmentation. But one must also consider the additional cost of the restoration of that implant with an abutment and crown. For those that have dental insurance, some of this cost will be absorbed by the insurance company.
The best advice is to consider all your options, including financing options. You don't want to choose the "most economical" dentist solely because of money issues. Think long-term. For instance, if one dentist says you need a bone graft, and another says you don't, you can certainly save money by not having a bone graft.
But you want to consider experience and success rates. It will end up costing you more in the long run if your dental implant fails because you don't have enough supporting bone or because the dentist improperly placed it.
While it may seem like the cost of a dental implant is high, when you consider the long-term benefits, the cost is worth it.
At Oceanview, we are proud to have the expertise of a board-certified periodontist on our team. Dr. Pichak Kelk has gone to extremes to prove her excellence in the care of all things related to saving and replacing teeth. Her success rate and patient satisfaction levels are unparalleled when it comes to implant surgery.
We also have options for affordable care with our special coverage option. If you are in the San Clemente, CA area, one of our friendly, knowledgeable team members would love to answer any questions you have.
Call us today at (949) 388-0780 to schedule your consultation or visit us online.
Dr. John Wallace Ocean View Dentist 949-388-0780
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