Dental implants are small metal cylinders made from titanium that go down into the gum and bone, acting like the root of the missing tooth. Implants have small grooves in them that allow the bone to grow into them and become firmly “set” in place. As soon as the implant is healed it can then be restored with several of the options available today, most typically with a crown (a.k.a. “cap”). Implants are the standard of care for tooth replacement today, and are an alternative to bridges, partials, and dentures. Implants can look and feel like natural teeth and even have the advantage over natural teeth of not worrying about decay ever again. A great thing about implants being made from titanium is that the body does not recognize it as foreign and is therefore accepted by the body. In fact, the bone is very attracted to the implant and grows around it to hold it firmly in place. Implants are the surest procedure in dentistry that dentists can say, “typically dental implants last forever [provided the patient maintains it of course].”
For the most part candidates for implants must have favorable overall health, including healthy gums, good oral hygiene habits, and healthy jawbone to anchor the implants. The decision of whether or not an individual is a candidate for implants is primarily based upon the decision of the doctor placing the implant, but possible contraindications include some chronic diseases, bone disorders, uncontrolled diabetes, smoking, and alcohol abuse. Your dentist can evaluate you to see if you are a candidate for implants and advise you whether this is the best option.
Complications with implant procedures are unusual. When complications do occur, such as infection, the doctor can treat this with medication or surgical intervention. Again, such a complication is unusual and is usually only temporary. Typically having an implant placed is easier than having a tooth removed, but some of the same risks are possible such as swelling, bleeding, discomfort, bruising, infections, cosmetic problems, and damage to other natural teeth. Ask the doctor placing the implant to provide more information about possible risks involved with implants.
Implant placement typically requires several steps over a period of 3 to 6 months in most cases, but can take a year or more depending on the complexity of the care. Following are the most common steps for implant treatment:
Implants have to be maintained just like natural teeth and should be brushed and flossed. It is also extremely important to go to the dentist for preventative maintenance visits at least twice per year for dental and implant maintenance. The single most exciting benefit about implants is that if maintained properly can last a lifetime.
Even though implants should be covered by dental insurance, they typically are not. However, over time implants pay for themselves since they are very long lasting and patients do not have to worry about decay anymore. No price can be attached to an investment in your health.
If you have questions on dental implants please contact us. We are more than happy to answer your questions!