A dental implant is an artificial tooth that is surgically affixed to the jaw to mimic the appearance and function of a natural tooth. These restorations are composed of a titanium post, a connective abutment, and a custom dental crown, all of which work together to form a natural-looking and fully functioning tooth. Thanks to their unmatched security, realistic feel, and long-lasting results, implants are often the preferred solution for missing or lost teeth by dentists and patients alike.
- How Do Dental Implants Work?
- Dental Implants Benefits
- Dental Implants Candidates
- Dental Implants Procedure
- Dental Implants Recovery
- Dental Implants Results
- Dental Implants Cost
How Do Dental Implants Work?
Shaped like a titanium post, dental implants are designed to emulate the function of a natural tooth root. During treatment, the post is implanted below the gumline and left to fuse with your jawbone over a period of four to six months. Once the post has successfully become a part of your mouth — a process known as “osseointegration” — the implant works to stimulate the jawbone, regenerating healthy tissue and strengthening your bone structure. While a dental crown is often used to top an implant when replacing a single missing tooth, other restorations, such as a bridge or a full denture, can also be affixed to the implant in order to restore multiple teeth or even a full dental arch.
After the crown, denture, or bridge has been attached to your implant(s), your new replacement tooth should look and feel like the real thing. Implant-supported restorations blend seamlessly into your smile and can last a lifetime with good oral hygiene. Patients and dentists usually consider this treatment the best method of tooth replacement for individuals who are good candidates, as dental implants allow an unrestricted diet and more confidence when speaking.
How Can Dental Implants Benefit Me?
Missing teeth can lead to a number of unfortunate oral health concerns, including the shifting of surrounding teeth, decreased biting ability, and jaw bone loss. Dental implants can generally offer the following advantages over other dental restorations:
- Realistic replacement of a missing tooth
- Preservation of healthy bone in the upper and lower jaws
- Increased security, longevity, and support when compared to dentures
- Natural feel in the mouth
- Zero maintenance besides brushing and flossing teeth
While implants are frequently considered the “go-to” tooth replacement option, implant restorations and/or oral surgery may not be the best course of treatment for all patients. A custom-made dental bridge can also provide beautiful results for patients seeking to recover lost teeth. Our experienced dentist—Mark Griffiths, DDS—would be happy to speak with you about your goals and assist you in determining the best restoration for your needs.
Who is a Candidate for Dental Implants?
If you are interested in dental implants, adequate bone volume to support the implants is key to a successful, long-term result. During your appointment, Dr. Griffiths and our team can use x-rays and dental imaging to assess whether enough healthy jawbone is available to undergo surgery. Good candidates for dental implants should also show no signs of periodontal disease, as poor gum health is often linked to a high rate of implant failure. If necessary, any bone grafting and/or gum disease treatment can be performed prior to your procedure to help ensure you have a stable foundation for your dental implants.
How is the Dental Implant Procedure Performed?
Dental implant placement involves an oral surgery in which a titanium post—meant to act like a natural tooth root—is inserted into the gums at the missing tooth site. The post is then left to fuse with the jawbone for a few months. Once the post has properly integrated, a zirconium or titanium abutment is placed over the implant, which will act as the connecting point for a custom-made dental crown. Impressions of your teeth will be taken, and a porcelain crown is then crafted to precisely match the color and proportions of your smile. The crown is then connected to the abutment to complete your implant restoration.
What Can I Expect During the Dental Implants Recovery Period?
After dental implant surgery, most patients take a few days off work or school to properly recover. Soreness, swelling, tenderness, and discomfort in the mouth is common, and should naturally subside as you begin to heal. Dr. Griffiths encourages patients to get plenty of rest after their procedure to help facilitate the healing process.
Our team will provide you with aftercare instructions to help ensure the most seamless recovery possible. Immediately after dental implant surgery, you will be advised to stick to a soft-food and liquid diet until instructed otherwise. This is necessary to avoid pressure on the implant site(s) and allow your gums to properly heal. You will also be asked to avoid consuming anything at extreme temperatures during the initial recovery period. During this time, good oral hygiene is essential to limit bacteria in the mouth and maximize the success of your implant(s). We will show you how to properly clean your teeth, gums, and mouth without disturbing the treated area. Dental implants usually take four to six months to fully integrate with the jawbone, but patients often feel “back to normal” within one to two weeks after their procedure.
How Long Do Dental Implant Results Last?
Out of all the tooth replacement options available, dental implants usually provide the longest-lasting results. They are designed to restore the function and appearance of missing teeth for a lifetime and, while the restoration may require replacing after so many years, the implant should be permanently affixed to the jawbone. That said, implants tend to last as long as your natural teeth — just as your teeth decay and weaken with plaque and tartar buildup, implant failure can occur if you neglect the health of your teeth and gums. It’s strongly advised to avoid smoking after your procedure, which is one of the leading causes of implant failure. Those who tend to grind or clench their teeth while asleep should also consider wearing a night guard to prevent unnecessary damage to their implants. With regular brushing, flossing, and professional dental cleanings, the results of dental implants can last indefinitely.
How Much Do Dental Implants Cost?
According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID), the cost of an implant for a single tooth is estimated to be between $3,000 and $4,000. However, implant costs vary widely according to a patient’s needs and unique factors such as:
- The location of the missing tooth
- The type of dental crown placed
- The inclusion of any prerequisite treatments, such as gum disease therapy or bone grafting
Our office can provide you with a detailed cost estimate after your consultation with Dr. Griffiths. Many individuals find that their expenses can be made more manageable with the financing plans offered by CareCredit®, which give qualified patients the opportunity to pay for their treatment in a series of small, flexible installments. If you have any questions about the low- to no-interest payment plans offered by CareCredit®, or if you would like to learn more about the cost of dental implants, please contact Griffiths Smiles today.
Call our office at (619) 298-6257 to schedule a consultation for dental implants, or for more information about our restorative dentistry services.