Dental implants is the most modern method that prosthetic dentistry has to offer for replacing missing teeth. When you want to replace lost teeth, none of the alternative methods (dental bridges or dentures) will feel and look as close to your natural teeth as dental implants.
What is a Dental Implant?
Dental implants are small dental devices that play the role of artificial tooth roots used for the replacement of missing natural teeth. They are surgically placed in the jawbone to replace the root part of the missing tooth and provide a solid base to support a dental restoration that will replace the missing tooth's crown.
A tooth restored with the use of a dental implant consists of 3 main parts:
- Implant Post / Fixture: An implant post or implant fixture is a titanium made, threaded, screw-like component that is surgically inserted and embedded into the bone of the lower or upper jaw. The implant post is a non visible part of the implant that holds the 'artificial' tooth in place and it can be considered as the equivalent of the root part of the natural tooth.
- Abutment : An abutment is the part that connects the implant post with the dental restoration and it is attached on the top of the post with a screw protruding over the gum line. The central part of the post is usually hollow and internally threaded where the abutment will be fixed. Different types of abutments can be used (both in shape or material) depending on the type of restoration that will be supported. In some types of implants (such as mini dental implants) the abutment is not a separate part but it is fixed with the implant post.
- Restoration : The tooth restoration (that replaces the visible part of the tooth) is a crown, usually made of porcelain fused to a metal alloy, but also could be an all-metal or all-porcelain crown. The dental crown is attached (screwed or cemented) either to the abutment or directly to the implant. If the crown is screwed to the abutment, the screw hole is covered with restorative material such as tooth-colored filling material.
How Dental Implants Work?
A dental implant is essentially a substitute for a natural root which is placed into the empty socket of an extracted tooth or in a socket carefully drilled at the precise location of the jaw. The implant is screwed into position (if it is a screw-threaded one) or otherwise tapped into place.
The main goal during implants placement is to achieve immediate close contact with the surrounding bone. This creates the necessary initial stability, which over time is steadily enhanced by further growth of bone around the implant (osseointegration). Dental implants are made of titanium because titanium has the ability to biologically bond to the bone. After the bone has grown around and secured the implant, implants provide the foundation for long-term support of a crown, bridge or overdenture just like roots hold natural teeth in place.There are two basic uses for dental implants:
Who can benefit from Dental Implants
Dental implants are the modern way restorative dentistry has to offer for replacing missing teeth. Almost 70% of adults has lost at least one permanent tooth up to the age of 45. A 25% of the population has lost all permanent teeth before 75 years of age. Most common causes of tooth loss are tooth decay, mouth injuries, gum disease and aging. Dentists recommend that a lost tooth should be replaced as soon as possible, otherwise the health of the adjacent teeth may be compromised. Other classic alternative methods for restoring lost teeth such as dental bridges and dentures have several disadvantages compared to dental implants.
Dental implants are a suitable option for replacing missing teeth, if an adult has good dental and general health, and there is enough strong bone in the jaw, to support the implant. Certain medical conditions such as immunodeficiency, osteoporosis, diabetes and others contraindicate with the placement of tooth implants increasing the risk of complications or failures.
The dental implant dentist will examine your dental and overall health condition to determine if you are a suitable candidate for dental implants.
More information about Dental Implants
Dental implant options & types
Depending on the number and position of teeth that have to be replaced, the available treatment options include the placement of single dental implants, implant-fixed bridges, or implant supported dentures.
Several types of dental implants such as mini dental implants, and various techniques such as immediate implant loading (instant implants), All-on-4, or Teeth-in-an-Hour have been developed to cover different patient needs.
The dental implant procedure
The procedure of placing dental implants consists of 3 main phases: the preparation and design, the dental implant surgery and finally the restorative phase. Additional treatments such as dental bone grafting or sinus lift augmentation may be needed before the implant surgery. Proper post-operative aftercare is necessary to shorten healing time and prevent complications.
Dental implant dentists are professionals with additional training in the related techniques; they usually are either Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons or Periodontists. Choosing a dental implant dentist based on the right criteria is an important factor to have a successful treatment.
Dental implant problems
Dental implant failure rates are fairly low, but in some cases the treatment will fail because of dental implant problems, with most common the implant infection (pericoronitis). Surgery errors, unfavorable conditions and low material quality are other major causes of dental implant complications.
Dental implants & dentures
Denture implants can be used, when many or all teeth are missing, to stabilize implant supported dentures providing an excellent solution to eliminate problems of loose removable dentures.
Dental implants provide many benefits over other alternative methods. Today when a tooth is missing, dentists recommend a dental implant crown vs a 3-unit bridge not only because of the advantages of dental implants vs bridges & dentures but also because it is a more cost efficient solution in the long term.
Dental implants cost & insurance coverage
The high cost of dental implants makes them one of the most expensive dental treatments. With an average cost over $3,000 per tooth, it is important to know what affects the cost of dental implants before you decide if you have been offered a fair price.
Offers about cheap / low cost dental implants usually involve poor quality of material or/and service, and it is better to avoid them. That does not necessarily mean that you can not find ways to get affordable dental implants.
Due to their high cost, it is difficult to get a dental insurance with dental implants coverage. Dental implants insurance is offered by some providers as an extra with a much higher premium. If you belong to a high risk group for tooth loss, paying the higher dental implant insurance costs may worth the savings you will have in the future when you need to replace lost teeth.