Dental Implants FAQs

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Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Implants

What is a Dental Implant?

A dental implant is a substitute tooth root that serves virtually the same function as a natural tooth root. It preserves bone and provides a stable foundation for a replacement tooth that looks, feels and functions like a natural tooth. Dental implants are made of titanium, which is a biocompatible material.

How do Dental Implants Compare to Bridges, Partials and Dentures?

Dental implant treatment has a better long-term prognosis than other methods of tooth replacement, such as dental bridges, partials and dentures, because these treatment solutions may need to be replaced several times. Since dental implants prevent the bone resorption (deterioration) that occurs when teeth are lost or removed, the function and appearance of the smile are preserved.

Unlike bridges and partials, dental implant treatment does not compromise the long-term health of the adjacent teeth. There is no need to cut teeth down to place a bridge, and there are no hooks, such as those on removable partial dentures that cause teeth to become loose. In addition, dentures and partials accelerate the bone resorption process, which also causes the appearance of premature aging.

Will my New Teeth look Natural?

Your new replacement teeth will look, feel and function like natural teeth. Dental implant treatment is the only tooth replacement option that prevents bone resorption, which can cause your smile to look unnatural.

Who is a Candidate for Dental Implant Treatment?

Nearly everyone who is missing one or more teeth and in general good health is a candidate for dental implant treatment. There are a few medical conditions that can undermine the success of implant treatment.

Quality and quantity of available bone for implant placement is often more of a factor in qualifying for dental implants than medical conditions. Even people who have lost a significant amount of bone can qualify for dental implant treatment with additional procedures to add bone or create new bone.

How Long do Dental Implants Last?

Documented clinical research demonstrates that dental implant treatment has a long-term (10+ years) success rate of over 95%, which is much better than the success rates for tooth-supported bridges, partial and full dentures.

Dental implants are designed to be permanent; however many factors contribute to the long-term success of dental implant treatment, such as home care and regular maintenance visits to the dentist or dental specialist.

By comparison, research demonstrates that the typical tooth supported bridge lasts 7-10 years and that partials and dentures are functional for approximately 5 years.

Do Dental Implants Ever Fail?

Dental implant treatment is one of the most successful procedures in the medical-dental field, with documented success rates over 95% at 10 years. Although successful treatment is very predictable, there are rare occasions where the bone does not completely bond to the implants. When this occurs, new implants are placed and typically succeed .

How Long Does it Take to Complete Dental Implant Treatment?

The length of treatment time depends on whether someone is a candidate for ‘Immediate Function’ procedures. Patients who qualify for Immediate Function treatment receive their replacement teeth the same day implants are placed, although there is a significant amount of treatment planning that takes place prior to implant placement.

For the majority of patients, treatment can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months, depending upon the quality of the bone in which the implants are placed. If procedures are needed to augment the bone, the total treatment time is usually somewhere between six to nine months.

Is the Surgical Procedure Painful?

Most people report that discomfort is far less than they expected. Most patients are very comfortable simply taking Tylenol afterward.

What is Involved with Taking Care of Dental Implants?

The home care recommended varies depending upon the type of implant supported replacement teeth. For example, a single implant supported crown is cleaned like a natural tooth, with regular brushing and flossing. Implant supported bridges that replace a few teeth are cleaned like tooth supported bridges, brushing and flossing with a floss threader.

Home care is a little more complicated for people who are missing all of their teeth, in that special brushes and floss are often recommended. With overdentures, it is necessary to clean the implant attachments, as well as the overdenture. Permanently fixed implant supported replacement teeth are cleaned like all other bridges.

In all cases, it is recommended that patients see their dentist and hygienist at least twice each year. It is usually recommended that the patient see the surgical specialist at least once each year as well. These visits, combined with proper home care, are essential to the long-term success of implant treatment.

What is the Cost of Dental Implant Treatment?

An investment in dental implant treatment is an investment in overall health, appearance and well being, since it involves preserving the integrity of facial structures, as well as replacing missing teeth.

The actual cost of implant treatment is based on a number of factors, such as the number of missing teeth being replaced, the type of implant supported teeth (treatment option) recommended and whether additional procedures are necessary to achieve the proper aesthetic and functional result.

There is often a misconception that there is a set cost for each dental implant. The fees are calculated based on the amount of time your dentist and surgical specialist anticipate spending to complete treatment (implant placement, other surgical procedures, fabrication of replacement teeth, etc) as well as the estimated cost of implants, other components and materials necessary to complete treatment and dental laboratory fees.

The fee is usually comparable to other methods of tooth replacement; however, long-term, implant treatment is generally more cost effective than other options, such as bridges, partials and dentures, which need to be replaced every 5-10 years.

Is Dental Implant Treatment Covered by Dental Insurance?

Insurance coverage of dental implant treatment depends on the individual policy. However, it is rare to receive substantial coverage. Since the benefit coverage is determined strictly by the amount the employer wants to spend on the policy, there are limitations with most dental benefits plans.

Does Medical Insurance Cover the Cost of Dental Implant Treatment?

There are a few cases where medical insurance is available for people who are missing all of their teeth, and as a result, have medical complications. This type of coverage depends solely on the individual policy. Other than these situations, medical coverage is very rare.

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Work related injuries and other types of accidents are the other cases that are sometimes covered by insurance. Medicare does not cover implant treatment.