Are Dental Implants for You?

A dental implant is a “root” device, usually made of titanium, used in dentistry to support restorations that resemble a tooth or group of teeth to replace missing teeth. A typical implant consists of a titanium screw (resembling a tooth root) with a roughened or smooth surface. The majority of dental implants are made out of commercially pure titanium, which is available in 4 grades depending upon the amount of carbon and iron contained.

They are used for the support and retention of dentures, fixed bridgework and the replacement of one or more missing teeth.

Virtually all dental implants placed today are root-form endosseous implants, i.e., they appear similar to an actual tooth root (and thus possess a “root-form”). They are placed within the jaw bone and become attached to surrounding jaw bone. The bone of the jaw accepts and osseointegrates with the titanium post.

Osseointegration refers to the fusion of the implant surface with the surrounding bone. Dental implants will fuse with bone, however they lack the periodontal ligament, so they will feel slightly different than natural teeth do during chewing functions.

The implants remain rigid rather than have some flexibility that natural teeth have because they are attached individually to a periodontal ligament.

Prior to the advent of root-form endosseous implants, most implants were either blade endosseous implants, in that the shape of the metal piece placed within the bone resembled a flat blade, or sub-periosteal implants, in which a framework was constructed to lie upon and was attached with screws to the exposed bone of the jaws.

Dental implants can be used to support a number of dental prostheses, including crowns, implant-supported bridges or dentures. They can also be used as anchorage for orthodontic tooth movement. The use of dental implants permits un-directional tooth movement without reciprocal action.

You should know that not every person may be a candidate for receiving a dental implant.There has to be enough supporting bone present particularly in the upper jaw that is in such close proximity to the maxillary sinus. You also must have good oral hygiene and be in good general health.

That being said, certain invasive surgical procedures can be implemented like bone grafts, or bone augmentations and/or sinus lifts to provide enough bone. One obvious contra-indication for implants is placing them in the lower jaw to close or touching to the mandibular canal which has the mandibular nerve running through it.

Placing implants in such places could result in prolonged and/or permanent numbness of the lower lip and jaw. A very undesirable outcome indeed!

Although many dental professionals can provide you with implants, you must do your due diligence and ensure that the professional you select, is highly trained and experienced in dental implant procedures.

Oral surgeons, Periodontists, Endodontists and general dental practitioners who have had the necessary training and education can perform this service for you.

The actual dental implant procedure is not usually painful during or after the surgical placement. It is usually performed with the use of a local anesthetic but alternative methods like nitrous oxide, IV sedation and/or general anesthetic procedures are available.

If you decide to have your General Practitioner do this procedure, make sure to ask how many he or she has done. And ask them where and when they got their training in implant procedures.

The healing time required prior to loading and placing the denture, crown or fixed bridge on the implant may vary widely. I believe most practitoners will allow from 2-6 months for the healing process and complete bone integration to take place.

That said, the immediate placement into a recent extraction site and immediate loading has recently become more common because the success rates for this procedure are now quite acceptable.

If you should see a dental implant advertisement that states ” Teeth in a day”,it is a procedure more appropriate for a completely edentulous (no teeth present) case where all of the teeth are to be extracted or have already been extracted.

You might ask what is the rate of success for dental implants? Well that depends on the operators skills, on the quality and quantity of bone present, the patient’s oral hygiene and condition of the remaining teeth and supportive gum tissue.

A patients who smokes, have diabetes, poor oral hygiene habits and/or other compromising general health issues are NOT very good candidates for a successful implant procedures.

The success rate in good candidates are extremely high. Around 95%. The cost of a basic dental implant is typically $1,250 to $3,000. Depending on your circumstances, additional costs for things such as in the case of a posterior mandible, bone regeneration, sinus elevation, and wide diameter or narrow diameter implants can quickly escalate the costs involved to as much as $15,000 to $30,000 for the complete procedure for the upper or lower jaw.

That being said, a related cost of a un-complicated single implant can vary between 1500.00 and 3,000.00 depending where you live and who is doing the surgery.

Many dental schools for example may have a specialty program which may offer to do a single implant for a considerable discount compared to private practice. Consequently, if you live near a dental school and get accepted into their dental school implant program, you may be able to have an implant or implants done at a reduced price.

Be aware that most estimates given for implants do not always include the superstructure that will be placed on top of the implant. Therefore, it will be up to you find out what the total cost will be including the cost of the crown or crowns, bridgework or dentures that may be required.

For edentulous patients who have to wear lower dentures, the implant procedure has become the next best thing to sliced bread. Providing you are a good candidate and can afford it, dental implants can improve your quality of life considerably.