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Dental Implant FAQ

What are dental implants?

Implants are artificial replacements for tooth roots. There are two types – endosseous implants and subperiosteal implants. Endosseous implants are surgically placed into the bone with a post projecting through the gum tissue on which the replacement tooth or teeth will be attached. Subperiosteal implants feature several posts and are placed over remaining bone beneath gum tissue.

How can implants help?

Implants function much more like natural teeth than dentures. Implants are supported by the bone, not gum tissues, allowing 90 percent of chewing force to be restored when functioning with natural teeth.

Are implants noticeable?

Not at all. Since the replacement tooth or teeth covers the entire implant post, no one will know you have dental implants unless you tell them.

Are there restrictions on what patients should receive implants?

Although there are some exceptions, most people healthy enough to receive routine dental extractions or oral surgery are candidates for dental implants. Alcoholics, smokers and those suffering from chronic diseases may not be the best candidates.

What are some of the advantages of implants?

Implants help improve a patient's appearance, comfort, ability to chew and speech. They also greatly help those who cannot function with standard dentures.

Are implants strictly for cosmetic purposes?

Implants do positively affect the cosmetic appearance of your teeth; however dentists look more at the health and functionality benefits that will be made possible.

What dentists can perform implant procedures?

Legally any dentist can perform implant procedures, however unique training and extensive experience is required to effectively diagnose and plan implant cases.

Is hospitalization necessary for the implant procedure?

Not usually, most implant procedures are completed with a local anesthetic in office. Other sedation methods may also be available. The only circumstances a brief hospital stay may be necessary is if a patient's health is compromised or a complex surgical procedure is required.

How long will the implant process take?

Implants can usually be placed in only one or two visits, with some cases fully completed in less than six weeks. However, the total length of the process is determined by factors such as length of healing time, type of implant and type of tooth replacement.

How are implants specifically placed?

Implants are placed surgically. Surgery time and what post-surgical care will be necessary depend on the complexity of the case and type of implant selected. After the procedure, you will be prescribed medication and receive recommendations the benefit your comfort and healing time.

Will I experience any pain or discomfort?

Anesthesia provided during the procedure will prevent any pain or discomfort. Afterwards, medication for pain, swelling or to prevent infections will be prescribed as well.

When will my customary replacement tooth or teeth be attached?

Placing your customary replacement(s) depends upon your healing time. This also depends upon the type of implant placed and whether or not the implant is allowed to osseointegrate – implants that heal into the bone. With most endosseous implants, the replacement tooth or teeth can be constructed within a few weeks of surgery and then placed once the implant is fully healed.

After my customary replacement teeth are attached, can I eat normally?

Depending upon which type of implant you receive, your diet may need to be altered. With subperiosteal implants, a soft diet for several weeks is required. However, with endosseous implants, regular chewing can begin almost immediately.

What are the chances of infection or other problems occurring?

The possibility of infection occurring in areas around implants is the same for natural teeth. Practicing good oral health will help prevent infection. In addition, since implants are made from biocompatible materials, the normally are not rejected by the body.

Do implants function as normally as natural teeth?

Implants provide the next best thing to natural teeth. Patients usually aren't even aware they have implants once fully healed. The replacements look, feel and function like normal teeth.

Is special care necessary for maintaining implants?

Practicing good oral hygiene and regularly visiting your dentist will help keep your implant healthy, as with your natural teeth.

If my implants fail, can they be replaced?

Dental implants can fail due to disease or surgical complications. Many of the same reasons that cause normal tooth problems can negatively affect implants as well, such as teeth grinding, TMJ dysfunction and gum disease. Usually, with today's dental implant systems, a failed implant can be replaced.

How much do implants cost?

Cost depends upon the type of implant used and your individual case needs. A wide range of implants exist with varying fees. In your consultation with your dentist, a treatment plan identifying your needs and explaining fees will be discussed.

Are implants covered under dental or medical insurance?

Insurance coverage varies depending upon your provider. Some dental and medical insurances cover part of the expense in implant procedures and the replacement prosthetics necessary.

How long do implants last?

The longevity of implants depends upon certain factors such as your oral and overall health, condition of your bone structure and jaw and how well the implants are taken care of. Although no definite time frame can be given, healthy individuals who practice good oral hygiene typically enjoy the benefits of implants for many years.