7. What Are the Advantages of Dental Implants?
As children, we are born with two sets of teeth (baby teeth and permanent or adult teeth). Over the years, we lose the baby teeth, and they are replaced with permanent teeth. When a single adult tooth or even several teeth are lost due to dental health issues, gum disease, or dental decay, implants can step in like the third set of teeth. There are many advantages to dental implants, such as improved appearance, increased confidence, and improved ability to eat the foods you love. Perhaps the two most significant benefits are that dental implants can last for the rest of the recipient’s life when cared for, and unlike natural teeth, they can never decay as they are made of titanium.
8. What Are the Disadvantages of Dental Implants?
As with any surgical procedure, there are minor risks involved with getting dental implants. First, as with any surgery in the mouth (or throughout the body), there is a risk of infection, inflammation, and pain. However, your periodontist will discuss how each of these can be managed in relation to your specific situation. It is important to note that any adverse effects of a dental implant procedure are relatively rare, and should they occur, they tend to be minor. Another disadvantage of dental implants relates to cost. If there is not enough bone for your periodontist to place the implant fixture, you may require a bone or gum grafting procedure, which could increase the overall cost of treatment. This could be a notable disadvantage depending on your dental benefits and anticipated out of pocket expenses.
9. What can I Eat After Having Dental Implants?
The surgical procedure for dental implants involves creating an opening into your gums for the fixture to be placed. It is essential to keep this area clean and free of food debris while it is healing to reduce the risk of infection. As with any extraction or surgical procedure in the mouth, you will need to drink liquids and consume soft foods for the first two days postoperatively. For example, you can drink milkshakes and smoothies (without fruit seeds) and eat anything soft such as yogurt, ice cream, mashed potato, pudding, and smooth soups. On the third day after your surgery, you can begin to include foods that do not require a lot of chewing, such as cooked noodles, soft sandwiches, eggs, or macaroni and cheese.
It is essential to avoid seeded, hard or crunchy foods like rice, popcorn, hamburgers, fresh berries, or pizza. You should also avoid spicy or acidic foods, as those can irritate your incision site. Most people can resume their regular diet within a few days to one week with minimal discomfort or difficulties.
10. If I Need Extractions, How Long Do I Need to Wait to Get an Implant?
The dental implant fixture requires a snug fit in your jawbone. Although your tooth or teeth may be missing, allowing space for the implanted tooth, you must have sufficient bone to hold the implants in place, or they will not heal properly. It is possible to have your implant fixture placed on the same day as your extractions in some cases. However, the more common approach requires allowing the bone a period of three to six months to heal after extraction before having dental implant surgery.
11. Is It Possible for My Mouth to Reject the Implant?
While it is possible for your body to reject an implant, it is a rare occurrence. Typically, the jaw readily accepts the implant fixture. When a situation arises where the implant is rejected, it is most often due to allergies to the titanium alloy that makes up the implant fixture. Another reason for implant failure is improper care of the implant after surgery. Dental implants can fall out or fail to heal correctly without adequate oral hygiene. Taking good care of your natural teeth and your implants will help prevent further gum decay and/or bone loss, and potential structure failure in the future.
12. How Long Will My Implants Take to Heal?
As previously mentioned, the implant process takes several steps, and therefore, you may require more than one “healing stage.” Because of this, the healing period varies with each individual. It will also vary depending on your overall health, the number of teeth you need replaced, and other factors. Generally, the healing process takes anywhere from six to twelve weeks.
13. What is the Success Rate of Dental Implants?
The success rate of implant surgery depends significantly on the individual and their health and habits. For healthy patients with good oral hygiene and good overall health, dental implants are successful, with a success rate ranging from 95 – 98.5%.
14. How Long Do Dental Implants Last?
Unlike your natural teeth, dental implants are not susceptible to oral health issues such as decay. However, dental implants will not protect your gums, and therefore it is vital to maintain proper oral health to ensure your implants last. Proper at-home care and regular professional cleaning and check-ups are essential for implant success. Each person is different, and implant success relies upon diagnosis, medical history, surgical experience, and various other factors.
15. Is It Possible to Get “Metal-Free” Implants?
Historically, almost all materials used in tooth repair and replacement have been some sort of metal ion. Implants made of titanium alloy have long been considered the gold standard in surgery due to their compatibility with natural body chemistry. However, due to potential evidence of allergic reactions, changing esthetic standards, and increased demand for metal-free constriction, the search for an alternative has been ongoing. Consequently, zirconium dioxide or Zirconia has become a popular alternative for those seeking a metal-free option.
16. Can Dentures Be Made into Implants?
In short, no. Dentures cannot be “made into implants.” The physical dental implant is a titanium screw that is surgically placed into the jawbone to help anchor and support artificial teeth. If you struggle with unstable dentures, it may be possible to have implants (without a tooth) placed under the existing denture to aid in stabilization and support. This is only an option if your current dentures are in excellent condition.
17. Can Implants Help if I Have Full or Partial Dentures?
People who wear full or partial dentures are frequent beneficiaries of dental implants. The dental implant can help to provide added support and retention for a removable overdenture that the periodontist can “snap on” to your implant. The implant helps ensure that the full or partial denture does not move, and therefore, the need for glue or adhesives is reduced or removed altogether. It is also possible, in some cases, to use dental implants with a fixed denture.
18. Are Dental Implants Removable Like Dentures?
Dental implants are not removable. The implant itself is surgically placed in the jaw to allow for a stable attachment point for a false tooth or another dental device. As the implant is fixed solidly into the bone and any false teeth are placed on the “screw” portion of the implant, they become a permanent fixture in your mouth. This process ensures any missing teeth are replaced in a manner in which the appearance closest to that of your natural teeth.
19. How Much Do Implants Cost?
This is a complicated question as the answer will vary greatly depending on your specific situation. Your periodontist can help to provide an accurate final assessment of the costs for your particular procedure. Your provider will need to consider the following elements when determining the cost of implants:
- The quality and amount of existing bone in your jaw
- The number of implants you need to support your teeth
- The number of teeth that need replacing
- The type of artificial teeth to be used (single cap, partial denture, etc.)
- Any preexisting conditions or extractions that must be addressed before the implant procedure can take place
All of these considerations can and should be discussed with your periodontist at an initial consultation appointment. In most cases, the overall cost of replacing one single tooth with a dental implant is almost the same as replacing it with a traditional fixed bridge.
20. Will My Insurance Cover My implants?
Typically, dental insurance is limited regarding its coverage of dental implants. However, more companies are now starting to cover dental implants. Whether your procedure will be covered will depend on your insurer and the type of coverage you have. In some cases, the insurance will pay for the teeth placed on the implants, but not the implant itself. In others, they may pay for the implant but not the teeth. You will want to contact your insurance company before beginning any treatment or procedures related to dental implants to avoid any unexpected billing.
As with any surgical procedure, it is essential to do your research. Hopefully, the above information has provided answers to many of your questions and helped alleviate some of the most common concerns. Before scheduling an appointment for surgery, be sure to ask your periodontist to explain, in detail, the dental implant process, so you ensure you are comfortable with what to expect from start to finish. Each procedure is unique, and therefore, you are likely to have questions above and beyond the ones we have answered here. Thorough research will help prevent any surprises or unexpected problems from arising before, during, or after your implant surgery.