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A dental implant is an artificial replacement for the root portion of a tooth. It is made of titanium, is most commonly threaded like a screw, and is in the overall the shape of a tooth root. After the dental implant is placed, a replacement tooth (crown) is affixed to the implant.
Dental implants can be used to replace single missing teeth, multiple missing teeth, or all missing teeth.
Why do people get dental implants?
Depending on the location of a missing tooth, having a noticeable gap can have adverse effects on one’s confidence and may affect their desire to smile. If the missing tooth is in a posterior (back) position of the mouth, rather than affect looks it can have an impact on chewing ability. With a decreased number of chewing surfaces, many patients find that eating efficiency is decreased
Once the missing tooth or teeth are replaced with dental implants, the patient’s confidence in their smile and their chewing and eating ability is improved.
How many teeth can I replace with implants?
Dental implant treatment is a very versatile treatment modality. Dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth, multiple teeth, or all teeth.
When replacing one tooth, a dental implant and crown can be used just like any other tooth in the mouth.
When multiple teeth are replaced with dental implants, the implants are placed on each end of the open space and an implant bridge is made.
When all of the teeth are missing in the upper or lower jaws, 2-4 implants can be placed in the lower jaw and 4-6 implants on the upper jaw. The number of implants present dictates whether a removable or fixed set of teeth can be made.
What is the success rate of dental implants?
It is infrequent, though not uncommon, for a dental implant to fail to fuse with the surrounding bone. The overall success rate of dental implants in the mouth is greater than 95%.
If an implant does fail and it must be removed, it is possible to bone graft the area and place another dental implant. Just because an implant failed once before does not necessarily mean that it will fail a second time.
How much time will I need to recover after getting dental implants? Will I have to take time off work?
It may sound hard to believe, but dental implant surgery is easier on the mouth than tooth extraction. After an implant placement, you may want to take the rest of the day to rest and recover. However, you should not need any additional time beyond that.
Pain management for a surgery like this is easily accomplished with over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol and Advil.
How long will my implant last?
With proper oral hygiene and routine cleanings/follow-up, a dental implant has the potential to last a lifetime. But it is important to remember that several factors can potentially affect its longevity, such as gum disease, trauma, or excessive biting force.
The artificial tooth that is placed on a dental implant, however, will certainly require maintenance or replacement in the future.
Does smoking affect success rates of dental implants?
An active smoker will have a lower chance of success than a non-smoker. The reason for this is that smoking affects blood vessels, and this ultimately weakens the body’s ability to heal. It is recommended that you quit smoking if you are planning to get a dental implant.
A previous smoker who has quit will have a success rate closer to that of a non-smoker.
Do bisphosphonate medications affect success rates of dental implants?
Bisphosphonates are medications such as Actonel, Aredia, Boniva, Fosamax, Reclast, and Zometa. They come in oral and IV forms, and are most commonly prescribed to treat osteoporosis.
While bisphosphonates are important for minimizing broken bones, the same mechanism by which they work causes healing problems in the jawbone. If you have not yet started bisphonate medications but your medical doctor has recommended that you start them, consider getting your dental treatment completed ASAP.
What is the treatment sequence for implants? How long does the whole process take?
Prior to placing the dental implant, an examination of the implant site must be completed. Once the implant is placed, the shortest possible healing time is three months. If bone grafting has been done as well, the healing period can take up to six months. After the implant site has healed, an impression can be done to make the implant tooth. The implant tooth is made by a dental laboratory, and will be delivered at a following appointment.
On average, the entire process can take from 6-9 months from the initial visit to the completed restoration.
What is the benefit of a cone-beam CT scan and 3D imaging?
A cone-beam CT (CBCT) scan is a three-dimensional image, which gives much more information than traditional two-dimensional X-rays. It allows for identification of the best implant placement site and avoiding vital structures like delicate nerves or the sinus.
I had an implant by another dentist. Can you restore my implant?
Believe it or not, dental implants are not one size fits all. There are as many implant manufacturers as there are car makers. And just like there is a make and model for each car, each implant manufacturer has different implant “models” that they offer.
If you have an existing implant that was placed elsewhere, the ability to use it depends on whether or not you can obtain the “make” and “model” of your implant from the dentist who placed it.