Dental Implants and Everything You Need to Know
There might be any number of reasons for a person choosing dental implants, but there’s no denying that they are one of the best dental solutions on the market today for restoring a healthy set of teeth.
Whether you have missing, damaged, misshapen, or severely stained teeth, all of this can have a dire impact on your oral health and not-to-mention, your self-confidence. Dental implants can change and improve your oral health for good.
Want to learn more about what to expect from the dental implant procedure? This blog is for you.
What Are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is exactly what the name suggests — it’s an implant that attaches to your jaw, just below the gum line. It’s then fitted with an artificial tooth, specifically designed to mimic the look of your natural teeth. Dental implant crowns are most commonly made of a ceramic material.
The implant itself fuses to your jawbone and comprises two parts: the base and the connector. The base includes a screw-like part, made from titanium or zirconia. The connector, also called an abutment, is also made from titanium, zirconia, or surgical-grade stainless steel. The ceramic tooth then connects to the abutment.
Today, dental implants are the most common alternative to removable dentures. This is because they offer the best functionality and aesthetic results, over the long term. Plus, they’re also far more convenient than dentures. You don’t have to worry about constant cleaning, avoiding certain foods, removal when sleeping, speech impediments, etc.
How Do I Know if I Need Dental Implants?
There are a myriad of reasons why a person may choose replacement teeth, such as dental implants. Some of the time, it’s not only about aesthetics. A dental implant may be an oral health necessity due to periodontal disease and tooth loss.
Here are some of the most common reasons you might need dental implants:
- You are missing a prominent tooth or multiple teeth
- You want to improve your speech and eating ability due to tooth loss
- You have cracked, damaged, or badly stained teeth that you’d like to replace
- You suffer from severe gum disease and bone grafting is a good option for restoring your oral health
Of course, there are other basic reasons, such as the inability to wear dentures, or maybe you just don’t want to. But as long as you are in good health and you have gum and bone structure that your dentist can work with, then you’re a good candidate for dental implant surgery.
What’s the Success Rate of Dental Implants?
As mentioned, there’s no denying that dental implant surgery is one of the best procedures for oral health restoration, and the success rates are there to back this up. In fact, this procedure is one of the most successful restoration procedures in dental history, and certainly throughout dentistry today.
Research shows that 90-95% of dental implant surgeries are successful over a 10-year period, while up to 90% of upper jaw surgeries show great success rates. The reason for this is the lower density of the upper jaw which can have an impact on osseointegration, or bone ingrowth into a metal implant.
What Are the Risks of Dental Implants?
When you undergo any form of surgery, no matter how minor it is, there is always some risk involved. With dental implant surgery, this reality is no different. However, it’s worth mentioning that some of these risks are very rare and easily treated or rectified by your dental surgeon.
Some of the risks include:
- Injury to surrounding structures in your mouth, such as tissue, blood vessels, and other teeth
- An infection at the site of your implants
- Nerve damage which leads to tingling, numbness, or pain in your gums and other teeth
- Sinus issues — this can happen with upper-jaw implants that may irritate or protrude into the sinus cavities
Along with this, there’s also a small risk of dental implant failure or your gums rejecting the implant. While the research shows that dental implant failure is not common, it’s usually the result of:
- Incorrect implant position — when the implant does not sit correctly in the gum, this can jeopardize the osseointegration process
- Implant breakage or fracture
- Infection at the implant site or the development of an inflammatory condition in the bone or gum
- Poor gum health and blood circulation due to smoking
It goes without saying that the success of dental implant surgery also hinges on your aftercare and the recovery process. If you fail to maintain good oral hygiene or continue to smoke after your surgery, this can lead to peri-implantitis. This is a similar condition to gum disease that develops around natural teeth.
How Much Does a Tooth Implant Cost?
The cost of dental implant surgery really does depend on an assortment of factors. This means that dental implants could cost far less or more, depending on where you’re based. Some other factors that impact cost include:
- The model and type of implant
- The materials your oral surgeon uses
- How many implants you will need
- X-rays, local anesthesia, and more
But if you’re looking at a general figure for just one dental implant, this could cost you $1,500-$6,000. Most of the time, this cost includes extras such as office visits, x-rays, and anesthesia. If you’re looking at replacing a full set of teeth, you’ll need to budget anywhere between $3,000-$30,000. Again, this hinges on the factors mentioned above.
You might want to look into whether your medical insurance could cover any type of maxillofacial surgery. Especially if it’s necessary for medical reasons. But bear in mind that they will most likely only pay a portion of the cost and not the entire procedure.
What’s the Process of Getting Dental Implants?
So, with all of the above information in mind, you’re probably wondering how this entire procedure works. Here’s what you can expect:
The first step is to visit your dental surgeon where they will take a look at your overall health, oral health, quality of your gums, and examine your mouth. They may require a few extra tests to determine whether you’d be a good candidate for a successful outcome. They might also take some x-rays of your gums.
After this, they’ll discuss what’s recommended for your oral health and confirm the number of implants you need/want. Then, they’ll schedule in your surgery.
The Surgery Process
Most of the time, your oral surgeon uses local anesthesia to numb your mouth, instead of general anesthesia. This means you don’t have to worry about too much downtime!
Once they’ve numbed your mouth, your surgeon makes an incision in your gum and places the titanium or zirconia implant into the tooth socket in your jaw. They then stitch up the incision areas and clean up your mouth. Most of the time, your surgeon uses dissolvable stitches.
If you don’t have a good amount of bone tissue to work with, you may need to undergo a bone graft beforehand to develop the bone in that part of your jaw. But this is something your surgeon will bring up in your initial consultation where necessary.
Post-surgery, your oral surgeon will allow for 6-12 weeks of healing and osseointegration — where the bone grows around the implant. Once your surgeon is happy with your healing, they will then schedule an appointment to attach your custom tooth/teeth to your implant(s).
How Long Do Dental Implants Last?
The intention of dental implants is that they’re meant to last as a permanent solution. Due to the process of osseointegration and how they bind to the jawbone, this makes them a successful and long-lasting tooth restoration option.
In essence, the implant acts as an artificial tooth root and forms the most solid foundation for your ceramic tooth replacement. The implant itself is permanent and can last almost an entire lifetime.
However, the dental crown is susceptible to normal wear and tear. And 50-80 percent of dental implants need replacing after 15-20 years, depending on your own standard of oral health.
What Are the Advantages of Dental Implants?
Finally, what are the benefits of this type of dental surgery? Is it worth the cost? When you take into consideration how long dental implants last and the long-term success rates, this makes dental implant surgery worthwhile.
Here are a few other advantages to consider:
- The natural aesthetic appearance — they’re designed to match the natural size, shape, and color of your other teeth
- They’re a convenient alternative to dentures and they act like your natural teeth, so they’re also far more comfortable and functional
- You don’t have to worry about speech issues as dental implants replace key teeth in your mouth that form specific sounds
- They’re a long-lasting, durable solution to restoring your oral health and self-confidence
To add to this, the dental implant procedure is usually a one-time process. Unlike your natural teeth, they also wear down a little slower due to the materials they’re made of. While your oral health should always be a top priority, you don’t have to worry about losing teeth as you age with dental implants!
Restore Your Smile with Dental Implant Surgery
If you’re considering dental implants, whether it’s to create a beautiful smile or replace missing or damaged teeth, Dr. Bredologos and Dr. Mendrinos are your Virginia Beach professionals.
We are a sister and brother family-run dental practice, with many years of combined expertise. We work together to ensure only the best outcomes for our patients.