Dental implants are powerful replacement teeth that will last a lifetime. They protect the jaw bone, won’t slip, and can even support a full row of upper or lower replacement teeth.

A healthy oral environment is essential to the success of implants. Practice good plaque control by brushing and flossing regularly.

What is an Implant?

An implant is a titanium screw that replaces the root of a missing tooth. It is surgically placed in the jawbone and, once healed, provides a solid foundation for fixed (permanent) or removable replacement teeth that look and feel like natural teeth. Dental implants also help preserve bone tissue and significantly reduce the deterioration of the surrounding jaw area that results from missing teeth.

The implant is designed to heal naturally, with the bone fusing to it during a process called osseointegration. In many cases, the implant is ready to support a new tooth within weeks to months, depending on the individual. While healing, the implant is covered with a temporary prosthesis to maintain appearance and function.

Once the implant is healed, a small connector post, known as an abutment, is attached to the implant body. This connects the implant to the artificial tooth, which is crafted by a dentist or dental practitioner. During this process, the patient should carefully follow oral hygiene instructions to prevent complications that could interfere with healing or negatively affect the appearance of the implant.

Dental implants are a safe, well-established treatment option for replacing missing teeth. But it’s important to talk to your doctor or health care professional about your specific situation and overall health to determine if this is a good treatment for you.

You may need to see a specialist, such as a doctor who specializes in conditions of the mouth, jaw and face (oral and maxillofacial surgeon), or a dentist who treats structures that support teeth, such as gums and bones (periodontist). You should also make sure you’re up-to-date with your routine medical checkups before having this procedure.

How Does an Implant Work?

The implant slowly releases the hormone progestogen into your bloodstream, which prevents ovulation and stops pregnancy. It also helps to reduce heavy or painful periods, but it doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or HIV. The healthcare provider will numb your arm with a local anaesthetic before inserting the implant. They will then wrap a bandage around your upper arm to help reduce bruising and tenderness.

The incision is small and does not leave a scar, but it is possible to have some bruising or soreness at the insertion site for a few days. It is also possible to get an infection at the insertion site, but this is not common. Rarely, implants may start to come out of the skin, usually within the first four months after insertion. This is usually due to improper insertion or infection. If this happens, use a back-up method of contraception until the healthcare provider can replace the implant.

Some women have a change in their period after getting the implant, such as heavier or lighter periods or even stopping them completely (amenorrhoea). This is usually not harmful and will return to normal. You should still use a backup method of contraception when having sex to avoid pregnancy. The implant doesn’t protect against STIs or HIV, so you should always use a condom when having sex to reduce your risk of infection.

What Are the Benefits of Dental Implants?

Dental implants provide a number of significant health benefits, including improved oral function and quality of life. They are also the most durable tooth replacement option available.

Unlike bridges, which require the sacrificing and weakening of healthy teeth adjacent to the gap, dental implants are supported by a replacement tooth that is attached directly to the jawbone. This ensures that your natural teeth remain strong and prevents the bone loss that occurs when a tooth is missing.

An implant-supported tooth looks, feels, and functions like a natural tooth. It will allow you to eat and speak normally, without worrying about slipping or sores that can occur with dentures. They can even help preserve the shape of your face and prevent facial sagging, which is more common when you have missing teeth.

A dental implant also helps maintain the bone in your jaw, which is important for maintaining bone density. If you don’t replace a missing tooth as soon as possible, the surrounding teeth may begin to drift toward the empty socket and loosen. In addition, the jaw bone will start to resorb in the area where the tooth was removed.

Implants are made of titanium, a metal that fuses with the jawbone to create a permanent connection. Because the titanium is bio-compatible, your body will not reject it. The result is a strong and aesthetically pleasing replacement tooth that will last for a lifetime, with proper care from your dentist and dental hygienists.

Most patients are candidates for dental implants, provided they have healthy gums and adequate bone structure in their jaw. Smokers and those who have uncontrolled chronic conditions should be evaluated on an individual basis.

What Are the Costs of Dental Implants?

Dental implants are considered the gold standard of tooth replacement and can significantly improve your quality of life by helping you chew and smile more comfortably, while also preserving bone structure. However, they are generally more expensive than alternatives such as dentures and dental bridges.

The dental implants cost depends on a number of factors. Among the most significant are the type of implant chosen and the dentist performing the procedure. The most common types of dental implants are titanium, porcelain fused to zirconia (PFZ), and ceramic. Each of these types has a different price point, which can be affected by the material and the complexity of the implant. The cost can also increase if your dental implant dentist needs to perform preliminary procedures, such as tooth extraction or bone grafting. Finally, the cost can also vary depending on what type of anesthesia is used, although most dentists use local anesthesia for dental implant procedures.

Dental insurance typically only covers a small percentage of the cost of dental implants, as they are considered an elective rather than a necessary procedure. Many dentists also offer payment plans, typically through CareCredit or a similar company, which can help reduce the cost of implants for patients who do not have insurance coverage.

Some patients may find it easier to afford the costs of dental implants if they are able to use funds from an FSA, HSA, or other tax-advantaged account to cover the expenses. These types of accounts allow you to set aside pre-tax money from your paycheck each month to pay for eligible medical expenses, including dental implants. Alternatively, some dental practices also offer in-house financing options.

What Are the Risks of Dental Implants?

Dental implants are an innovative, durable restorative dentistry treatment that has a higher success rate than other teeth replacement options. When patients are in good overall health, have a strong immune system and practice proper oral hygiene, they can usually expect their implants to last a lifetime.

Because they are permanently anchored in the jaw bone, implant-supported artificial teeth don’t slip or shift out of place like dentures can. They also don’t rub against the adjacent natural teeth, which can damage those teeth and lead to bone deterioration in the area of the missing tooth.

In addition to restoring your smile, dental implants can help prevent the loss of other natural teeth in the area. If a missing tooth is not replaced right away, adjacent teeth can drift toward the empty socket and eventually loosen or fall out. This can cause additional teeth to be lost, which may lead to the need for even more dental restorations in the future.

For the most part, anyone who is healthy enough to undergo oral surgery can receive dental implants. However, patients with thin or soft jawbones may need a bone graft to increase the amount of bone material available for the implant to fuse to. A synthetic bone graft using a special type of hydroxyapatite or a natural graft from another part of the patient’s body are both options.

Implants can also help improve the patient’s ability to chew and speak. Since they are anchored in the bone, they provide more stability than dentures and help to stimulate natural bone growth in the area of the missing tooth. They can also help to reduce the risk of periodontal (gum) disease, which is a chronic inflammatory condition that can lead to heart attacks, strokes, Alzheimer’s disease and other serious health conditions.