Losing a tooth can be quite traumatic. Mostly because we only get one set of teeth for our entire adult lives. It can also be very costly to replace the tooth (or teeth) you’ve lost.
If your dentist has recommended dental implants, it’s important to understand what getting implants can entail before deciding whether to move forward.
Today’s post offers a Q&A covering the most common questions about dental implants discussed with our patients.
Learning About Dental Implants and How They Work
Q: What are dental implants?
A: There are several different types of dental implants, but for all types, the finished product is a false tooth affixed to a metal post.
Q: What are dental implants for?
A: Dental implants are one of a number of options used to replace missing teeth. This option is more permanent than others.
Q: How does the implant procedure work?
A: First, your dentist inserts a titanium post into your jawbone. Once the implant has integrated naturally into the jawbone, the dentist attaches a structure known as an abutment, to which the artificial tooth or teeth are attached.
Advantages of Having Dental Implants
Q: Which look better — implants or dentures/bridges?
A: Due to the process of replacing individual teeth, implants are simply more natural looking than removable dentures and bridges. When you only replace the teeth that need replacing you see naturally occurring spaces and can typically maintain coloring better.
Q: Are implants healthier than the alternatives?
A: Actually, yes. Any time you can avoid disturbing your natural teeth, you should. Drilling down or removing other teeth can expose healthy ones to decay. Implants are also made of titanium, which doesn’t decay. Proper spacing also allows for better at-home care, as well. Usually, the maintenance required is the exact same as your natural teeth.
Q: Implants can set me back thousands of dollars; Is it really worth the cost?
A: Implants are designed to last far longer than dentures (40 years or more vs. 5-7 years for dentures) and are typically about the same cost as a fixed bridge. Considering the 90-95 percent success rate, their longevity, and reduced costs of maintenance, we say yes every time.
Q: Will my insurance cover implants?
A: Some insurance plans actually include implant coverage. You can talk with your dental office’s front office staff about whether your plan does.
Disadvantages of Opting for Dental Implants
Q: Does it hurt to get implants?
A: Similar to other oral procedures, getting an implant is considered surgery. Just like recovering from other surgical procedures, you may feel a little soreness and inflammation afterward, but it’s temporary. You can usually take over-the-counter pain medication to help.
Q: Is this type of surgery safe?
A: Your dentist will always help you to evaluate the risks and benefits of dental procedures — including implants — and discuss any potential complications specific to your case. As with any surgery, there is a risk of infection, but if you’re in overall good health, you should be fine.
Q: What if I’ve already had extensive work done or am experiencing extensive decay?
A: If there’s no available bone to affix the post to, you may also need gum-grafting procedures. This will increase the cost of your treatment. However, for many patients the upfront investment still pays off long term.
If you have one or more missing teeth, dental implants can transform your confidence in your smile. Contact your South Florida dentist to evaluate whether you’re a good candidate for implants, and to help you weigh the risks and benefits.