Dental implants are artificial tooth roots that provide strong foundation that may be fixed or removable. They are replacements that match your natural teeth.

Advantages of Dental Implants

Dental implants have various benefits some of which are:

  1. They prevent you from the removal dentures which are not comfortable. They feel like natural tooth roots.
  2. As they feel like natural teeth they also look like them because they are fused with the bone and are permanent.
  3. It is easier to eat with dental implants as compared to dentures that make eating and chewing difficult and sometimes even painful.
  4. The speech of a person is more clear and not slurred if he has dental implants rather than dentures that may slip when he speaks.
  5. With dental implants one has improved self-esteem and confidence as they feel better about themselves.
  6. With dental implants there is no need alter other teeth for support and that is why they allow easier access to cleaning and leads to an improved oral hygiene.
  7. Dental implants not only provide the benefit of convenience but also are more durable. They may even last a lifetime if proper care is taken.[i]

Dental Implant Procedure

The procedure of dental implantation requires an initial visual examination. The dentist may order an   X-ray, panoramic films, or CT scans to check the site of mouth where the dental implant has to be inserted. This involves the assessment of the quality as well as the quantity of jawbone to determine if more bone is required. After this establishment that it can be inserted in the desired area, surgical appointment is given to the patient. Before the surgery, local anesthetic or sedatives may be given to numb the area and make the patient more comfortable and less anxious.

In the first stage, the tooth is extracted if an existing damaged tooth is still present. So this tooth must be extracted to prepare the area for placement of a dental implant. Sometimes a solid bone base is made for implant by using a bone graft that can either be synthetic or cadaver. This site requires about a period of 3 to 6 months to heal and then this area is ready for placement of implant. In other cases where sufficient bone is present an “immediate implant” placement is done in the same appointment.

The dental implant is placed in the bone by using a special drill. Over this implant a “healing cap” is placed and the gum is stitched. After this the healing phase starts. A temporary denture may be placed in the healing phase for esthetic purposes. Healing time usually ranges from two to six months. After the implant has integrated with bone and test to evaluate if the process was successful a prosthetic abutment is screwed to the implant. This holds the replacement tooth “crown”. An impression of this abutment is taken and implant crown custom-made to fit is made which is then cemented or secured to the abutment.

Failure Rate of the Dental Implants

The chances of success or failure of the dental implants vary from person to person. It depends on the placement of the implant in the jaw. On average the success rate of a dental implant is up to 98% and it may last a lifetime with proper care. Only few people may experience a dental implant failure. The failure rate of these dental implants is about 5 to 10% on average. This can happen either shortly after the placement or may happen months or years later.

Types of Dental Implants

There are two types of dental implants which are as follows:

  1. Endosteal – these are implants that are placed in the bone
  2. Subperiosteal – these refer to implants that are placed on the top of your jaw bone under gum tissue. These are no longer used due to poor long-term results as compared to endosteal dental implants.

Implants can not only be used for replacement of teeth but may also provide assistance in other tooth procedures. They can be used for supporting removable dentures. They make them more comfortable, fitted and secure because of their stability. Dental mini-implants in some dental procedures act as temporary anchorage devices which help in moving teeth to a position more desired or accurate. These mini-implants are temporarily fixed (to bone) acting as an anchor and may be removed after the procedure is done.

An ‘All-On-4” technique is available for patients in which all teeth have been lost due to a gum disease or decay. This technique provides a comfortable and stable prosthesis without using a large number of implants. In this procedure only four implants are used for replacing all teeth in a single arch. There implants feel like natural teeth as a very thin denture prosthesis is screwed in bone.

Cost of dental implants

The cost of dental implant procedure varies according to different factors such as the number of dental implants to be done, the region in which it has to be done and the dental surgeon who has to perform the implant procedure. On average a single dental implant may cost around $3000 to $4500. This amount includes all the charges such as components to be used, implant crown to be inserted and the surgery for implanting the dental implant.

Although is typical cases ones dental insurance might not pay for a dental implant procedure however in some cases a dental insurance may help a person to pay a portion of the total cost of implant surgery. Generally, dental implants are considered as an elective procedure by the dental insurance even though it is known to be a standard treatment for missing teeth replacement. [ii]

How Long Do Dental Implants Last?

If the dental implants are managed with good and proper care they may last a lifetime. If a person brushes and flosses regularly and receives dental checkups on regular basis implant can last a long period of time. However a crown implant has observed to usually last around 10 to 15 years and may need replacement after this time because of wear and tear.