dental care

Dental Implants
The Best Solution to Tooth Loss

Dental Implants are the ultimate solution to tooth loss, which can be extremely embarrassing and frustrating.

Tooth loss can be caused by a lot of things such as tooth decay, gum disease or periodontitis, root canal failure, excessive damage due to wear and tear, congenital defects, or mouth trauma caused by an accident or any other reason.

Regardless the causes, the effects of tooth loss are the same for each case. Frustration, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, and difficulty or irregularity in chewing and eating, are common effects of tooth loss. In some cases, however, this even leads to eating disorders and malnutrition, which is an extreme health problem.

Thus, the need for dental implants is not petty at all.

Here are some advantages of getting tooth implants over other dental procedures used to remedy tooth loss.

The Pros of Implants as Tooth Replacement

dental implants Advantages of a dental implant include:

  • Tooth Replacement without Gum Recession
  • Non-Intrusive Dental Replacement Alternative
  • Long-Term Tooth Replacement
  • Keep Your Tooth Loss a Secret

1. Tooth Replacement without Gum Recession

Dental implants make excellent replacements for lost teeth because they are integrated into the bone structure of your mouth. It means even if you lose a tooth, you will not lose a bone and your gum will not recede. This is often a problem that is faced by people who opt for bridges or dentures.

2. Non-Intrusive Dental Replacement Alternative

As a major dental procedure, getting implants for a lost tooth is surprisingly a non-intrusive and a very safe tooth replacement alternative. Getting them will not affect the quality of your other teeth at all, unlike bridges which require some alteration of the teeth beside the lost tooth so that the bridged tooth will be supported. This problem does not come up with a dental implant. And this is a great benefit to the overall condition of your teeth and to your overall dental health.

3. Long-Term Tooth Replacement

Dental implants are also long term replacements for lost tooth. You do not have to worry about getting further procedures done or about meticulous maintenance of the replacement tooth. Tooth implants are very durable and are reliable. They can last for a long time and does not come with all the inconvenience of using dentures. Because of this, tooth implants have high success rates and most who avail of the procedure are pretty satisfied with the overall long term effects they got from the procedure.

4. Keep Your Tooth Loss a Secret

Dental implants look very much like real teeth; they are quite impossible to detect because they look really natural. And they will also feel exactly like natural tooth that is firmly rooted in your gums. You can speak and eat at ease and with confidence because the implants will not move around, wobble, or click just like dentures do. This means you will not need to feel self-conscious at all because you can be sure that no one will be able to tell the difference.

Types of Treatments

Dental implant treatments come in various types based on the different conditions faced by patients. There are five common conditions that can be remedied with a tooth implant, the first and most common of which is the replacement of a single tooth. Single tooth replacements often require just an implant and a crown. The implant would not only replace the lost tooth but the root as well.

Another type is the replacement of several teeth, which will require bridges, which would then be supported by implants. In this procedure, only some of the roots are replaced. There are cases where all of the teeth need to be replaced. In such cases, a full bridge or denture supported by an implant can be used to replace your entire set.

There are two other types of dental implant procedures done, which are sinus augmentation and ridge modification. Sinus augmentation is required when there is not enough bone or the bone quality is poor in the areas where the tooth implants will be placed. By raising the sinus roof, bone can be developed in order to lodge the implant in place.

However, bigger upper or lower jaw bone inadequacy cases require ridge modification. In this treatment, the defective areas are filled up with bone substitutes so that the ridge will rise. This will make it possible to put in dental implants that are bound to last for a long time.

  • Who Can Have Implants?
  • What Types of Implants Can You Have?
  • When Are Dental Implants Used?

1. Who Can Have Implants?

dental implants procedureThe first thing to find out, of course, is whether you are able or qualified to have dental implants. Not everyone is allowed to have implants. Dentists rule out those who have periodontal diseases or other gum problems. Your dentist will also check if you have enough bone in the jaw area where the implant has to be placed. This is not cause for disqualification as it can be remedied by a simple bone graft surgery that is conducted prior to the dental implants procedure.

If you are not qualified for dental implants, other tooth replacement procedures you may consider include dentures and bridges. If you are allowed to have implants, you can start planning the procedure with your dentist.

2. What Types of Implants Can You Have?

If your dentist tells you that you can have implants, he or she will probably already have recommendations about what kind of dental implant should be used. If there are no problems or no reason to require otherwise, you will be given the regular endosteal implants. Endosteal implants are tooth implants that are placed into the jawbone. This is what is normally referred to when talking about dental implants.

What most patients don’t know is that there are two other types of dental implants that they may also consider. These are worth considering because, for one thing, they can bring down the costs you have to pay for implants, provided that the options are appropriate for you.

The second type of dental implant is called the subperiosteal implant, which means that it is not implanted into the jawbone; instead, it is placed on top of the jaw and gums, supported only by small metal posts that are propped on the gums. Dentists may recommend this if the facial structure of the patient naturally lacks height and a bone graft is not possible.

The third type of dental implant is more affordable than the regular implants, but are the same in terms of how they are used. They are also implanted into the jawbone. However, the third type, called mini dental implants, are smaller. Some dentists recommend getting mini dental implants if there is not enough bone or jaw height, if possible. The appropriateness of these options to every particular case differs based on the surrounding circumstances.

3. When Are Dental Implants Used?

When should the dental implants procedure be done? Dental implants are primarily meant to replace lost tooth or teeth. However, there are other situations wherein dental implants may also prove useful. For example, if you have dentures and they keep on slipping, you can ask for dental implants to hold them into place. This also works for bridges.

Step by Step Involved in a the Implant Procedure

Unfortunately, it’s not a quick procedure that can be done in just a single visit. In fact, the duration of the treatment may take as long as 9 months to complete. But at least in the end, you will be happy with the results.

Here are the normal steps you'll have to go through

  • Discussing Your Teeth Replacement Options
  • Initial Assessments
  • Tailoring a Treatment Plan
  • Possible Bone Grafting
  • Installing the Dental Implant
  • Osseointegration
  • Abutment Placement
  • Placing the Replacement Tooth
  • Checking the Results
1. Discussing Your Teeth Replacement Options

dental implants procedureIf you have some missing teeth or if you have an infected tooth that needs to be extracted, your dentist will usually discuss with you what kinds of tooth replacement options are possible.

Usually this discussion will involve the cost of dental implants, which can run into thousands of dollars. So you need to be sure that this is the right option for you.

2. Initial Assessments

Once you and your dentist determine that dental implants are your best choice, you’ll need to undergo a comprehensive dental exam. Your dentist will also need to check if your jawbone is sufficient for the dental implants procedure.

This will usually involve taking a panoramic X-ray (and sometimes additional X-ray investigations) to check the quality and mass of your jawbone, and the dentist will also make models of your teeth and mouth.

3. Tailoring a Treatment Plan

Once the initial assessment is done, you and your dentist will discuss a suitable treatment plan for you that’s tailored to the particulars of your case. The planning process includes determining how many teeth have to be replaced and checking the state of your jawbone. This planning discussion may involve other specialists, such as a periodontist and an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

During this discussion you’ll need to inform your dentist about any medical conditions you have and any medications you’re taking. Your dentist needs to know if you have orthopedic implants or any heart conditions so you can be prescribed some antibiotics before the surgery to help reduce the risk of infection.

You’ll also discuss what kind of anesthesia you’ll use during the surgery. This can be local anesthesia, sedation, or general anesthesia. Your dentist can recommend the best option for you.

You’ll also receive specific instructions about what you can eat and drink before the surgery, depending on the anesthesia option you choose. And of you choose general anesthesia, you’ll need someone to drive you home and you’ll have to rest for the day when you get home.

4. Possible Bone Grafting

If your jawbone is deemed unfit for dental implants, bone grafting may be an option. It’s possible that your jawbone isn’t thick or strong enough for an implant which means the jawbone can’t properly support the implant when you chew. A bone graft can correct this issue. A piece of bone will be taken from your hip or some other part of your body and grafted to your jawbone.

This can be a minor procedure that can be followed by the placement of the dental implant. But in a few cases it may take as long as 9 months for the transplanted bone to grow enough new bone to support the implant.

5. Placing the Dental Implant

To put the dental implant, the oral surgeon will cut into your gum to expose the bone. The dentist will drill holes into the bone where the metal post will be inserted. These holes will be deep because the dental implant will function as the root of the new tooth.

Once this is done, a temporary denture can be placed in the gap between your teeth before you’re sent home.

6. Osseointegration

Now it’s time to rest, recuperate, and wait for the bone to fuse with the dental implant.

Dental surgery usually involves some discomforts after the procedure. There may be some pain at the site of the implant so you’ll need pain medications and there may also be some minor bleeding.Your gums and face may swell or bruise. While the site of the surgery heals, you’re usually required to eat only soft foods.

This can last for up to 2 weeks. Usually, the surgeon will use stitches that dissolve automatically. If they don’t dissolve on their own, the dentist may remove them after about 10 days.

Meanwhile, you’ll need to wait for your jawbone to fuse with your dental implant. This can take as long as 6 months before you have a solid foundation for your replacement tooth. This process is known as osseointegration.

7. Abutment Placement

After the osseointegration, you may need an additional minor surgery to place the abutment, which is the part where the dental crown will be attached. While it’s possible to attach the abutment to the dental implant during the dental implant surgery, this will mean the abutment will be very visible when you open your mouth. This will last until the replacement crown is installed.

So with a separate procedure, you won’t get this problem. However, your gums will need to heal for about a week or two before the artificial tooth can be installed.

8. Placing the Replacement Tooth

After the gums have healed, your dentist will make more impressions of your teeth and mouth. These impressions will help in making the replacement crown look more natural. If you’ve lost several teeth in a row, you can put in a removable prosthesis much like a regular removable denture.

This is artificial teeth with pink plastic gum on a metal framework. However, if you’re using a dental implant to replace a single missing tooth, a fixed crown can be used.

9. Checking the Results

The dentist will check the results of the dental implants procedure, and most of the time it will be successful. But in a few cases infection may set in that will have to be treated. It’s even possible that the bone will fail to fuse with the implant, something that may happen to patients who smoke.

If that’s the case, the dentist will need to remove the implant and the bone is cleaned up. You can then try again after two months or so.

The dental implants procedure can take at least 3 months, and sometimes it can take as long as 9 months. But for many, it’s well worth the wait. In terms of appearance,, function, and comfort, a dental implant replacement tooth is just like getting your natural tooth back. What’s more, you can expect your dental implant to last for the next 25 years. 

Factors that Affect the Cost

dental implants average cost The average cost can differ based on several variable factors. The average cost of dental implants is anywhere between $1,500 and $3,500.

This, however, will pay for the dental implants alone. The base price can vary based on your location, the dentist or dental practice you go to, and the condition of your teeth.

Factors that affect dental implants average cost include :

  • Additional dental procedures
  • Service discounts
  • Different types of dental implant

1. Additional dental procedures

There are several factors that can add on top of the basic cost of dental implants. One of the common additional factors that can still increase the dental implants average cost is the bone grafting procedure. For example, if you will need an additional bone grafting procedure, the average cost will climb to around $15,000 to $30,000.

A bone graft is necessary if there is not enough space in the patient’s jawbone for the implant. In a bone grafting procedure, a bone is taken from another part of the body and implanted into the jawbone to give some space for the implant. This takes longer because you will have to wait for the jawbone to heal.

Aside from that, sinus elevations may also be necessary. Sinus elevations will add an additional $2,500 on average to your total implants cost.

2. Service discounts

But there are several other factors that can affect the price you will pay for your implants that are not related to the procedure. For example, if you are to get more than one implant, your costs will increase but you may be entitled to some discounts. Some dentists or dental practices are willing to provide such promotional offers to encourage more patients to get implants when necessary.

3. Different types of dental implants

There are also many different types of implants, and the specific type you choose will affect the price you pay. There are root form implants, plate form implants, and subperiosteal implants.

Root form implants are the most common because it resembles the size and shape of the natural tooth root. This is not always appropriate for patients, however, since it only fits patients with wide and deep bone that can act as a strong sufficient base for the implant even when the implants is affected by the pressure of chewing.

This is the fastest procedure since the dentist will just the area of the jawbone where the implant is to be placed then prep the bone for the insertion of the implant. Then the implant is placed into the space and the gums are closed over it with the use of stitches. This type of implant takes around six months to heal.

The plate form implants are the most suitable for patients with narrow jawbone. This is an alternative for when a bone grafting procedure is not possible. The implant’s base is long and flat instead of circular like the root of an actual tooth. Since it is thin and flat, it can fit into the narrow jawbone area easily.

Subperiosteal implants, on the other hand, are advanced implants. This is the implant type used in extreme cases where there is not enough width or height in the jawbone for the other two types of implants. These implants are custom-made and are sized for each patient. Thus, this requires two surgeries, one to get an impression of the bone, and another for the actual placement of the implant.

Now, can a dental plan help lower the cost of dental implants?

The dental implants average cost can still be lowered with the help of dental insurance or dental plans. A dental plan with dental implants coverage can entitle you to special discounts on implants or can cover part of the cost so you will only pay a smaller portion.

If you want a dental implant, look for dental plans first so the dental implants average cost you will shoulder will be smaller and easier on the pocket.

Complications At Different Stages of the Process

Complications can make a simple implant surgery harder, costlier, or more painful. Dental implants are considered as the most widely recommended option for the replacement of lost teeth. The surgery conducted for implanting artificial tooth is very simple, even though it takes two to three visits to the dentist.

But a simple procedure like this could very well become very complex and may do more harm than good if some complications arise, either before, during, or after the procedure.

Here are some of the complications that may come up at any stage during the dental implant surgical process.

  • Before the Procedure
  • During the Procedure
  • After the Procedur

dental implant complications1. Before the Procedure

Before the procedure, there are two common complications that may arise.

For those who need dental implants for any of the upper teeth, there might be a need for sinus augmentation.

This complication applies in cases where the patient does not have enough space for an implant without touching the sinus area. In such cases, if the implant reaches the sinus, there might be pain and other discomfort. As a result, a preliminary sinus augmentation procedure has to be done.

For those who need dental implants for any of the lower teeth, the problem might be the lack of sufficient bone in the jaw to accommodate the implant. This is like the previous problem, only this time, it does not affect the sinus but there is not enough space under the jaw. If this is the case, instead of sinus augmentation, a bone grafting procedure has to be done first, prior to the dental implant surgery

A bone grafting procedure is when a piece of bone is taken from another part of the body and placed to the jawbone where there is insufficient bone.

2. During the Procedure

During the dental implant surgery, there are fewer possible complications as long as any preliminary problems are taken care of. The only possible dental implant complication during the procedure itself is when the dentist accidentally hits the nerves when he or she places the implants in position.

Since patients are on anesthetics, they will only find out whether some nerves were hit when they come out of the anesthesia. Sometimes though, the implants may feel alright when placed, but may cause nerve pain the longer the implant presses on the nerves.

Nerve pain must be reported immediately to the same dentist who did the procedure. Nerve pain can only be ceased by the removal of the implant. Once removed, you have to wait for a few months before you can get a new implant.

3. After the Procedure

Most of the dental implant complications arise after the procedure is complete, when enough time has already passed for the body to adjust to the implant. One common problem is with jawbone integration or when the jawbone and gums fail to fuse with the implant. This usually causes loose implants. They may also cause infection or allergic reaction, which, in the long run, may turn into tissue damage.

Remember that a dental implant procedure takes around three visits to the dentist, the first of which is the most crucial because it is the actual implantation surgery. The second is the placement of the post that will hold the crown, and the third is just the placing of the crown.

After the gums and bone have successfully fused with the dental implant, the rest of the procedure is more likely to go smoothly. This in-between process, however, usually takes several months, and it is during this time that complications should be dealt with instead of at the end of the entire process.

Dental implant complications are not hard to detect because they almost always cause discomfort or pain. Pain is often the surest sign that there is something wrong with your implants.

Also, if you feel any inflammation in your mouth following a dental implant procedure, make sure to go have it checked by your dentist immediately. You have to be especially sensitive in the first few weeks after your procedure.

Your dentist will also recommend that you stay on a diet consisting only of soft foods that don’t need hard biting or chewing.

Some of the More Specific Problems that you Might Encounter

  • Peri-implantitis
  • Breakage of the implant
  • Loose implant
  • Nerve damage

1. Peri-implantitis

Peri-implantitis is one of the most common dental implant problems you might encounter. Peri-implantitis causes the inflammation or swelling of the tissues that surround the area where the implant is placed. This usually results when that certain area is gets infected by bacteria or other organisms. If not immediately resolved, peri-implantitis may result to bone loss and can lead to the complete ineffectiveness of the implant.

To treat a peri-implantitis condition, your dentist will clean the area surrounding the implant and make sure it is smooth and free from any organisms that may lead to plaque and bacteria accumulation. Home remedies include using an antiseptic mouthwash and taking antibiotics under the prescription of your dentist. In extreme cases, the implant may have to be removed so that the area can heal. Only then can a new implant be placed again.

If you got an implant, make sure you practice good oral hygiene to prevent bacteria and plaque build up, which can lead to peri-implantitis.

2. Breakage of the implant

Dental implants may be permanent, but sometimes, they do bend or even break. After all, they are made of titanium, which, despite its durability, may sometimes be vulnerable to breakage. If you have an implant, take care of your teeth well and try not to munch down on food that may be too hard for your implant to take. If an implant breaks, you won’t have a choice but to have it replaced.

3. Loose implant

Sometimes, the placement of the implant may be loose or unstable. This is another one of the most common dental implant problems you may encounter. This often results from using an incorrect technique in placing the implant. However, other causes are connected to this problem such as poor osseointegration, which is the failure to properly integrate the implant with the bone. Implants can also come loose over time. Forceful grinding or biting of the teeth can loosen up or destabilize your implant.

If your dental implants feel wobby, go to your dentist to have it checked. The remedy will have to depend on the extent of the damage. In worst cases, the implant may have to be removed. However, in milder cases, dentists can fix the problem without resorting to extraction.

4. Nerve damage

Out of all dental implant problems, the most painful would have to be nerve damage. Once nerves are involved, you can expect pain to be just around the next corner. Most of the time, nerve damage can be blamed on your dentist since this often occurs when the implant is placed too close to the nerves of the teeth. Sometimes, the implants are also positioned right on top of the nerves. Often, this leads to excruciating pain.

In order to stop the pain, the implants should be removed immediately. If you cannot bear the pain before the procedure is complete, you can ask for a pain reliever.

Maintenance of Your Implants

The dental implant procedure can be described as long and grueling. It can put you through pain and discomfort. So make sure that once your dental implants are securely in, you also give it enough care and attention.

Brush it carefully and get routine checkups to make sure there are no problems and that the implants are stable. Take care of your dental implants the way you would your real natural teeth.

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