All you need to know about dental implants
For decades, dental implants have been used to replace a single tooth, multiple teeth or a full upper and/or lower set of teeth.
They allow these new teeth to feel, look and function naturally, so you can smile, laugh, and eat your favorite meal without any dental issues.
What are dental implants?
Dental implants are the closest you can get to healthy, natural teeth.
They allow you to confidently eat, smile, laugh, improve your love life, and enjoy your everyday activities without worrying about your teeth.
A dental implant is a small post, usually made of titanium, that serves as a substitute for the root of the tooth. They are surgically positioned into the jawbone beneath your gums.
Because they fit, feel and function like natural teeth, dental implants are quickly becoming the new standard in tooth replacement.
Below, you can find all you need to know about dental implants and potential providers.
What are dental implants composed of?
Compared to dentures, bridges and crowns, dental implants are a popular and effective long-term solution for people who suffer from missing or failing teeth, and chronic dental problems.
Dental implants are composed into three parts:
The implant: Is a screw that serves as a root for your new teeth. This is what permanently attaches to your jaw.
The abutment: A connector placed on, or built into, the top of the dental implant, which connects it to the replacement tooth. It supports and holds a tooth or set of teeth.
The crown (or prosthetic tooth): This is the part of the tooth that you can see. Usually made of zirconium or porcelain for durability and good looks.
Custom-made to match your natural teeth and fit your mouth, completing the dental implant.
What are dental implants used for?
Modern dental implants have been used successfully for the past three decades. They are the strongest devices available to support replacement teeth.
You can use dental implants to replace a single tooth, multiple teeth or a full upper and/or lower set of teeth.
If you need to restore a full arch, you may be a candidate for the all-on-four dental implants.
Moreover, they allow these new teeth to feel, look and function naturally, so you can smile, laugh, and eat your favorite meal without any dental issues.
Who puts dental implants?
Dental implants are performed by a maxillofacial surgeon, a periodontists, a general dentists or a prosthodontist.
Oral maxillofacial surgeons, also known as oral surgeons treat all hard and soft-tissue diseases or defects, which includes extraction of teeth and jaw surgeries.
Periodontists focuses on soft tissue and bone disease, such as the gum and jawbone. Both oral surgeons and periodontists often specialize in dental implant placement, maintenance, and repair.
Once the dental implant has integrated fully into the jawbone, the implant crown is placed. This is typically performed by the general dentist or a prosthodontist, a dental specialist focused on tooth replacement.
Dental implants must be placed carefully to minimize implant failure.
For quality results, it is key for you to choose a dental implant expert who has the proper education, training and competence in implant dentistry.
When should I get dental implants?
It may be time for you to consider dental implants as your tooth replacement to:
Stop your teeth from shifting into the empty space.
When you lose a tooth, the surrounding teeth will eventually begin moving to fill in the space, exposing you to many complications.
If you have uneven or crowded teeth it makes it harder to keep it clean, costing you a lot more down the road.
Preserve your jawbone
Patients that have chosen a fixed bridge, for example, instead of a dental implant, increases the chances of deteriorating underneath the missing tooth.
This occurs because you don’t receive adequate stimulation to the bone without a tooth root. The same occurs with dentures that are not implant-supported.
If you wait too long, your jawbone may not be able to support implants without a dental bone graft.
These carry a wide variety of complications, including, poor fit, sores in the mouth, sunken lips, and food restrictions.
Preserve your appearance.
Fact: when your jawbone begins to deteriorate because of missing teeth, it often causes your face to appear sunken in, making you look older.
Dental implant provide the stimulation your body needs to produce dense, healthy jawbone material and keep your face looking full.
What are the benefits of dental implants?
Dental implants can be a smart choice for adults of all ages, whether you were born without a tooth or have had to have teeth removed due to injury, infection or decay.
Here are four important advantages of dental implants:
Dental implants performed by a board-certified dentist and under good care, many implants last a lifetime.
Other options, including certain types of dental bridges and dentures, may need to be replaced more often than implants, requiring a higher investment of time and money.
Improved oral health
Dental implants don’t require reducing other teeth, as a tooth-supported bridge does.
Since nearby teeth are not altered to support the implant, your own teeth are left intact, improving long-term oral health
Dental implants also allow easier access between teeth, improving oral hygiene.
Dental implants eliminate the inconvenience of removing dentures and the messy adhesives to keep them in place.
Dental implants feel, look, fit and function like healthy, natural teeth.
They help you retain your natural face shape and smile.
They provide the peace of mind you need to eat what you love, to have a natural speech, and even a reason for you to smile more often.
With poor-fitting dentures, the teeth can slip within the mouth causing you to mumble or slur your words.
Improved self-esteem and confidence. Your dental implants will be secure, so they won’t slip or click when you talk, eat or laugh.
Dental implants protect facial bone and healthy teeth and are the only tooth replacement option that actually helps stimulate bone growth and prevent bone loss.
What is the success rate of dental implants?
In general, dental implants have a success rate of up to 98%.
These factors may affect the success of a dental implant:
Healthy gums are a criteria for dental implant surgery.
Gum disease is an infection that can damage the gums and jaw bone.
An untreated infection could develop around the implant and lead to failure. If you have gum disease, talk to your dentists before getting dental implants.
Compared to a non-smoker, research studies show that smokers can have a dental implant failure rate up to 20 percent.
Smoking can also cause dental implant failure because it restricts blood flow to the gums. In turn, slowing the healing process.
Being a smoker doesn’t mean that you’re ineligible for a dental implant.It is ideal for you to stop smoking one week prior to a dental implant and at least two months after placement.
Insufficient jaw bone
Without enough healthy jaw bone, the surgeon cannot surgically place the implant into your jaw.
Bone loss can happen with osteoporosis. Severe gum disease can also cause deterioration of bones in the mouth.
What are the medical requirements of dental implants?
People with an autoimmune disease or conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes can cause your body to heal at a slower pace, which prevents osseointegration, where the implant fuses or integrates with your jaw bone.
Speak to your dentist about a complete list of requirements you need to comply for eligibility.
Who is an ideal candidate for dental implants?
You are a good candidate for dental implants if you have:
Adequate bone to support the implant
Commit to keep a proper oral hygiene
Have good general health
Who may not be an ideal candidate for dental implants?
People suffering from chronic disorders such as diabetes or heart disease
Patients who have had radiation therapy to the head/neck area need to be evaluated on an individual basis.
If you are considering implants, talk to your dentist to see if they are right for you.
What types of dental implants are available?
Dental implants come in different sizes, heights and types.
There are two main types of implants:
Endosteal: These are surgically placed in your jawbone and are typically made of titanium and shaped like small screws.
Once the surrounding gum tissue has healed, a second surgery is needed to connect a post to the original implant.
They are the most commonly used type of implant.
Subperiosteal: These dental implants are placed under the gum but on, or above, the jawbone.
It is an option for those who do not have enough healthy natural jawbone and cannot, or do not want to, undergo a bone augmentation procedure to rebuild it.
If your jawbone is not able to support dental implants, several techniques can be used to rebuild bone, restore your natural jawline and provide a sturdy foundation for implant-supported teeth.
What are the risks or side effects of having dental implants?
Infection at the implant site
Injury or damage to surrounding structures, such as other teeth or blood vessels
Nerve damage, which can cause pain, numbness or tingling in your natural teeth, gums, lips or chin
Sinus problems, when dental implants placed in the upper jaw protrude into one of your sinus cavities
Allergic reaction. You may develop a reaction if you’re allergic to titanium alloy, a metal in some dental implants. Symptoms of an allergy include swelling, loss of taste, and perhaps a tingling sensation. Mention a titanium allergy to your oral surgeon. You’ll need an implant that contains a different material.
Failure to follow your doctor’s instructions. Your activities and habits have an impact, too.
Follow your dentists post-surgery instructions to lower the risk of complications.
Are dental implants safe?
Dental implant surgery is one of the safest and most predictable procedures in dentistry.
Choosing a knowledgeable, skilled, and board-certified specialist increases safety and helps minimize complications.
How is the dental implants procedure like?
Dental implants involves the following steps:
You first undergo a comprehensive dental exam. You may have dental X-rays and 3D images taken, and have models made of your teeth and jaw, review of your medical history, dental implant discussion and planning.
The planning process for dental implants may involves an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, a periodontist, and a prosthodontist.
Dental implant placement
In your next appointment, the dental implants are placed in your jawbone.
As you heal, your implant and jawbone will grow together in a few months process called osseointegration, forming a strong, long-lasting foundation for your replacement teeth
Your dental implant surgeon may suggest soft foods for the first few weeks to make sure your implants heal properly.
Once your implant bonds with your jawbone, a small connector – called an abutment – is placed on the dental implant just above the gum-line.
In some cases, the abutment can be placed at the same time as the implant.
Custom-make and attach new teeth
After your gums heal, your dental implant dentist will make impressions of your mouth and remaining teeth to custom-make your artificial teeth.
These teeth – which can be an individual crown, implant-supported bridge or dentures containing multiple replacement teeth – will be attached to the abutment.
Periodic check ups
The process can take three to nine months, depending on the number and type of implants and replacement teeth you receive.
Much of that time is devoted to healing and waiting for the growth of new bone in your jaw.
Certain steps can sometimes be combined, depending on your oral health status, the specific procedure performed, or the materials used.
What kind of anesthesia is used for dental implants?
Local anesthesia or IV sedation can be used to keep you comfortable, depending on the complexity of the procedure.
Talk to your dental specialist about which option is best for you.
Are dental implants painful?
Most people who have received dental implants say that there is very little discomfort involved in the procedure, which you can manage with pain medication.
Local anesthesia can be used during the procedure, and most patients report that implants involve less pain than a tooth extraction.
Nevertheless, speak with your surgeon if pain doesn’t improve after five to seven days.
How long do dental implants last?
Dental implants are not susceptible to dental disease such as decay.
Once the procedure is successful, if you maintain proper oral and overall health, a dental implant can last a lifetime.
What is the recovery time for dental implants?
Most people find they experience less pain and discomfort than they expect, and typically return to work the next day, although each patient’s experience is unique.
Implant recipients play a key role in the success of their own restoration and must be motivated to take care of the implant.
Practice excellent oral hygiene
Clean at least twice a day with a soft-bristle toothbrush
Use a low-abrasive toothpaste
Don’t chew hard items, such as ice and hard candy
Brush under and around the implant crown
Use a nylon coated interdental brush to clean hard-to-reach places
Floss daily with unwaxed tape or implant-specific floss
Use a recommended oral irrigator
To keep your artificial teeth as clean as possible, you should consider getting these dental implant cleaning instruments.
You can use a typical toothbrush to brush your dental implants.
There is essentially no significant difference when using sonic, electric, or manual toothbrushes, so any of those are fine to use. Nevertheless, it needs to be soft-bristled.
Generally, dentists recommend using unwaxed tape or floss specifically for implants, ensuring that the surrounding tissue is best protected.
Check with your dentist about what floss to use for your specific denture.
Oral Irrigators (aka Water Flossers)
Oral irrigators can really help with reducing plaque and inflammation. Find a water flosser with a nonmetal tip and use it one to two times every day, supplementing it with non-alcoholic antimicrobial rinse as desired.
Stimulators can really encourage healthy gum tissue, which is crucial in maintaining a dental implant.
The best kind to use are rubber-tipped stimulators so as to be gentle on the gums.
What should I expect after dental implants?
Patients who undergo dental implants may experience some of the typical discomforts associated with any type of dental surgery, such as:
Swelling of your gums and face
Bruising of your skin and gums
Pain at the implant site
If swelling o discomfort gets worse in the days after surgery, contact your oral surgeon.
After each stage of surgery, you may need to eat soft foods while the surgical site heals.
Are dental implants covered by insurance?
Coverage under your medical plan may be possible, depending on the insurance plan and/or cause of tooth loss.
Detailed questions about your individual needs and how they relate to insurance should be discussed with your dentist and insurance provider.
How much do dental implants costs?
The average cost that you could expect to pay ranges from $1,000 to $3,000 for just one implant.
Then you have to add in the abutment and crown, and those could cost anywhere from $500 to $3,000.
In the Dominican Republic, dental implants are a fraction of the cost and is one of the best destinations in the Caribbean for this type of procedure.
Find a Doctor in the DR
Dr. Manuel Sanabia
Aesthetic and Cosmetic Dentist