Dental Implants: The Smile You Always Wanted
Dental implants replace the roots of your teeth with false teeth that are permanently fixed. Once the procedure is completed, the implants look and feel like your real teeth. It is a good alternative for those who may have to get dentures or are missing teeth. Some patients opt to go to implants and are able to get rid of dental bridges that are ill fitting.
The type of dental implant you could receive depends entirely on your situation. Some patients only need a few teeth implanted while others need multiple teeth, or a full set. An implant dentist is able to evaluate your situation and to counsel you on the best type of dental implant surgery. If you are suffering from tooth loss, or have teeth that have decayed and no longer have roots, then you may be a good candidate for implants. Find out if dental implants are the right move for you, and what is involved with a dental implant procedure.
How an Implant Works
An implant is a tiny screw that is inserted. It is made mostly of titanium. Then a false tooth is inserted over the screw and it is secured. Dental implants generally take a series of phases, which can take months. This is because the screws, often called anchors, must be implanted into the bone in your jaw. It takes and average of a few months to fully heal from this. Once this is done your replacement teeth are attached to the metal crew (also called a post). Once these final teeth are fitted onto the posts, you are done.
Why You Need an Implant
If you have lost a tooth and do not replace it shortly after loss, the bone that supported the tooth begins to disintegrate. This affects the way you bite down, and can even change the way your face is shaped. Those teeth remaining are also affected as they can shift, making it difficult to eat. Once you have the implants in place you do not have to worry about bone loss or damage to neighboring teeth. This is because the posts give the false teeth stability that does not depend on teeth next to it for structure.
If you have ever watched someone struggling with dentures then you know the struggle is real. Clicking while talking, speaking issues or difficulties chewing can all occur with dentures. Implants can solve most, if not all, of those problems. This is because the implants look and feel like real teeth, and are cared for just like real teeth.
Are Dental Implants Right for You?
More people qualify for dental implants than ever before. Newer technologies have allowed implant dentists to use 3D imaging to create teeth that resemble your own. Guided implant placement software allows dentists to make sure the posts are going exactly where they will do you the most good. But not everyone is a good candidate for a dental implant, even if they want it. A good candidate has the following characteristics:
- Are missing teeth.
- Have high cavity rates.
- Suffer from denture dry mouth and other denture issues.
- Have enough bone density in your jaw bones to receive a post.
- Are over 18 years of age. Bone density is not reached until this age.
When you go for an evaluation the dentist will take a series of images. He or she looks for the oral structure to determine whether an implant could be placed. If you are not a good candidate for a full implant procedure, many dentists also offer mini-implant procedures and other alternatives. In some instances you may be able to have the implants but it would involve many more surgeries and bone grafts. Most patients are not willing to go to those lengths.
Average Cost of Dental Implants
The cost of dental implants depends heavily upon your particular situation. Each case is personalized and tailored to the number of teeth being replaced as well as your overall health. Because dental implants last for an extremely long time they cost about the same as other tooth replacement options. Currently the average cost you can expect to pay for implants is between $3,000 and $5,000 per tooth. However, if you are wanting a full set of implanted dentures, then most dentists customize the charge for you.
So how do you find a good implant dentist? The key is to find a dentist who specializes in implant surgery. The American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID) is the credentialing organization for dentists, so if you find a dentist you like, look them up. Implants placed poorly will cost you more than your initial cost to put them in. So, choosing wisely is key. In general, if you see an advertised price that seems too good to be true, chances are it is. The key is to make sure you ask the dentist you are considering for the job a number of questions:
- Does the price advertised include bone augmentation if needed?
- Does the price also include extraction, if needed, as well as soft tissue treatment?
- Does the price include the crown, provisional tooth/teeth, and immediate load?
- Where was the crown manufactured? (If the dentist purchases them out of the U.S. be very wary).