Dental implants have revolutionized the practice of dentistry. Before dental implants, patients only had the option of bridges or removable dentures to replace missing teeth. Now implants can be used to replace one or more teeth. The patient is left with a healthy, easy to maintain smile! Even though implants have been used since the 70’s many of my patients do not know what an implant is or how it works.
What is a dental implant?
Dental implants are artificial tooth roots which are used to replace one or more failing or missing teeth.
How long does it take?
The length of treatment depends on several factors. How healthy are you? How healthy is the bone where the implant is being placed? For simple cases it can take as little as 2-3 months. More complex cases can take over a year.
What is the procedure?
You will see your dental surgeon for a consultation to determine the exact procedure and timing. If you have a tooth that must be removed, your surgeon will remove the tooth and if necessary, place a bone graft. If your supporting bone is healthy, it may be possible to place the implant fixture that day (immediate placement implant). If it needs to heal, due to infection, you will likely have to wait about 3 months and then have the implant placed (delayed placement implant).
Will it hurt?
Implant placement is a delicate procedure, most patients report minimal discomfort, less discomfort than after the extraction of a tooth.
Will I walk around with a tooth missing?
There are several options to temporize the missing teeth. A fixed temporary can is often placed the same day as the implant. It is called an “immediate load implant temporary,” or sometimes this process is referred to as “teeth in a day.” If this is not an option, a removable temporary, called a “flipper” can be placed. A back tooth may not need to have a temporary.
How does the implant stay in my jaw?
After initial placement, the implant osseointegrates, meaning it fuses with the surrounding jaw bone. This usually takes about 2-6 months depending on the quality of the jaw bone and the implant used.
What is an abutment and crown?
While the implant replaced the tooth root, the abutment and crown will replace the tooth in your mouth. The crown is the artificial tooth that you use to chew and smile, while the abutment is a custom made connector, which attaches the crown to the implant.
Does my insurance cover it?
It depends on your insurance. Many dental insurances will cover part of the extraction and part of the crown. Some insurances may also cover part of the graft, implant and abutment.