Dental Implants FAQs
For most people the loss of teeth is a traumatic experience which has profound effects on the quality of our lives. Dental Implants function, feel and look like natural teeth and can solve the problems associated with tooth loss.
Teeth have several major functions, most obviously they allow us to chew our food and give us an attractive smile. You may not be aware that they also play an important part in speech and help maintain our facial shape.
The loss of even one tooth can begin a process of degeneration which can lead to the need for artificial removable teeth. In the process, the gums that hold the teeth no longer have a function and begin to shrink, changing the shape of the face. This in turn leads to an appearance of premature aging.
Conventional dentistry has been successful in saving teeth, to the point where most of us now expect to keep our teeth for our whole lives. However, despite our best efforts there are situations where natural teeth cannot be saved or people have been without teeth for years. For these people, conventional dentistry is not always good enough.
Removable dentures can never be as good as the real thing and conventional bridge work involves drilling away healthy teeth to achieve the desired result.
What is an implant?
An implant is a man-made replacement for natural teeth which allows the person to return to having fixed teeth. It is not a transplant, which is taken from another person. There are several categories of dental implants, which will be selected by the doctor depending on your specific needs and general dental condition. You would require an x-ray to evaluate the amount of bone remaining, models of your mouth to determine space available and a thorough examination to decide which type of implant can help you the most.
Is it expensive?
The procedure can involve a significant investment and fees can be determined after records and an examination is completed. A survey of 350 patients, after completion of their work, indicated that it was, not only worth the investment, but they would do it again.
What will my insurance pay?
Although portions of the procedures involved may be covered, the implant itself is not a covered benefit on the majority of insurance contracts. We are, however, persistent in doing the best we possibly can in obtaining benefits for our patients from their medical and dental insurance.
Is there discomfort involved?
Just as with any surgery, there can be some discomfort; however, anaesthetic and patient sedation are used to eliminate any discomfort at the time of the procedure. Approximately 95 percent of patients report discomfort of 0-2 on a scale of 0-10 the day after the implants are placed. The doctor will prescribe medications to ease any discomfort that may occur. Special care will be taken to stay in contact with you after the surgery to be sure that you remain comfortable.
How long does it take?
Complete treatment can take from 4 to 9 months and in some cases, longer. It should be understood that this procedure is advanced and can be a longer process than usual to assure its success. We do, however, provide patients with temporary teeth during this time frame. AT NO TIME are you without teeth unless you elect to do so.
Is there a chance of rejection?
The body does not reject a dental implant, as it might reject a soft tissue transplant, such as a lung, heart or kidney. This does not mean that an implant cannot fail, but it would be due to other factors, such as misalignment, improper force on the implant or other conditions or existing diseases of the patient. Dental implants are made of a material, titanium, that is totally bio compatible (compatible with body tissues) and actually integrates with the surrounding bone and becomes part of the body. Titanium is also being used more and more in the medical field to replace body parts.
How long could one expect to be off work?
Generally, we recommend the day of and the following day after surgery, that no strenuous exercise be done. You can expect to be slightly swollen. The amount of time off required is an individual decision.
What will happen without treatment?
When you lose your teeth, you gradually lose the bone that supported them. As this bone disappears, problems with other teeth nearby and a lack of support for dentures, partials and bridges increase. These could include pain, mobility, lack of retention for prosthetics, sharp, painful ridges, mobile gum tissue and sore spots. The tongue enlarges to accommodate spaces of missing teeth. With tooth loss, a five-fold decrease in function occurs and the diet shifts to softer foods. Also, when bone is lost, numbness to the lower lip or even the possibility of fracture of the jaw rises. Since the bone is deteriorating, it will spread and deteriorate around healthy teeth and ultimately cause the loss of those teeth.
I think everyone’s heard of the “domino effect”. Here’s a very easy way to explain what happens. Picture a brick wall; take a brick right out of the middle of the wall. What happens? Eventually, the brick above starts to fall in from lack of support, the bricks to the side start shifting toward each other and those eventually fall out; then the process starts all over for those bricks nearest them. It’s a similar process in the mouth. In addition, this progression will affect the ability to provide the same treatment in the later stages of bone loss than if treatment had been started earlier in the process. It’s much better to replace a tooth BEFORE all of the side effects kick in. By waiting, you risk the possibility of not being able to provide the same, simple type of treatment that would have been possible earlier.
Who is a candidate for implants?
Anyone who is missing one or more (even all) of their teeth may be a candidate for implants. If one or a few of the teeth are missing, implants in conjunction with a crown or bridge can replace those teeth and function as normal teeth without losing more bone and being subject to decay. If all or most of your teeth are missing, then implants may be placed to anchor a loose denture. Sometimes, if there is already some bone loss, bone can be added and regenerated or a technique called “bone expansion” can be used to create a more ideal site for the implant(s). More detailed information and images are available from the treatment menu. Ultimately, a consultation with a dentist who is knowledgeable on these procedures can help determine your individual needs.