1. What exactly are dental implants and what can they do for me?
Implants are substitutes for teeth and they are today’s best alternative to your natural teeth. They offer you a permanent or secure solution for replacing one or more teeth. They are made of biocompatible materials, just the same as hip implants or similar orthopedic devices, and function as anchors or support for traditional forms of dentistry, such as crowns, bridges or dentures. Many of our patients will tell you that implants have changes not only their smiles, their overall appearance but also even their lives! There are numerous other reasons to choose dental implants:
- Esthetically, they support teeth that look like real teeth. Functionally, dental implants feel and act like real teeth.
- With implants, you can eat and chew again without pain or irritation. Foods that were forbidden are now back in the diet.
- Implants eliminate the need for distasteful adhesives. There is no longer a need to use “glue” when your prosthesis is anchored to implants.
- Implants can actually improve the taste of food. With less plastic covering the roof of your mouth, you can enjoy natural flavors and sensations again.
- Lastly, implants can help maintain your bone structure and support your facial tissues.
They can reduce or eliminate bone atrophy, which causes “shrinkage” or facial cosmetic changes.
2. Are implants successful?
Implants, as we know them today, have been in existence for at least twenty-five years. For the last ten years, however, success rates at many treatment centers are consistently over 95% with proper personal and professional care. Few forms of medical, orthopedic or dental treatment have such high success rates.
3. What is the procedure like?
There are actually two phases to implant dentistry:
Using very accurate surgical techniques, an incision is made in the gum tissues and implants are placed into dimensionally controlled sites (depth and width) in the jawbone. The gun tissues are then closed and the healing phase begins. This may take anywhere from 3-6 months to ensure a strong base.
Creating and fixing the new tooth or teeth to the implant structure constitutes the second and final phase. Implants can replace a single tooth, several teeth or your dentures.
4. Are they expensive?
Initially, you might feel dental implants are expensive. However, they represent a more permanent and natural solution than dentures and partials. Thus, there is a greater initial investment. They should last for years, particularly if you have an “ideal” case. Independent surveys of implant patients show that they felt the investment was worth every penny and would do it again!
5. How much do they cost?
Each case is different. Cost is a function of our particular needs. After a complete examination, your doctor will more specifically determine your dental needs and the best treatment alternative(s) for you. At that point, you can specifically address the question of cost and be helped with financial arrangements.
6. Does it hurt?
Usually, discomfort is not a problem. In fact, many have said that having a tooth pulled was more painful! For the placement of an implant(s), your doctor will use one of many anesthetic regimens so there won’t be any discomfort. When you leave the office, you will be given appropriate medications. We urge you to ask other patients how they felt after implant therapy. Your doctor(s) and their office teams are available at anytime to make sure that you are comfortable.
7. What benefits can I really expect?
- Eat whatever you like! Implants improve your health with the ability to chew a wider variety of foods.
- Smile with confidence. Discolored or missing teeth ruin your appearance. Implant supported restorations help increase your self-esteem. People will approach you more readily.
- Express yourself clearly or simply be understood. Implants increase the retention and stability of your teeth.
- Improve your external facial structure and decrease the likelihood of continued bone loss. Your jaw and teeth will smile together.
8. How long will it take?
Recent advances by implant manufacturers are reducing the time for initial implant procedures. Treatment for the simple cases could take anywhere from 4-8 months, based on where the implants are placed and the type of restoration you desire. Do not compromise because your implants and the new teeth that they support should last for years.
9. Will I be without teeth?
You will never be without teeth. Your doctor will make sure that in the interim period, you look and feel very natural.
10. Am I too old?
Implant patients can be in their early teens or be mature adults in their seventies and eighties. Good health and adequate bone are the most critical factors in evaluating implant candidates.
11. Is one implant system better than the others?
No. There are many FDA approved implant systems available to your doctor.
12. What will it feel like when it is done?
Once the entire procedure is complete and the final restorations place, they will actually feel or function like your natural teeth!
13. How do I take care of my implants?
Normal routine home care and professional cleaning visits are required. It is important to know that every 3-4 months, you will need to have a routine cleaning and re-care treatment and evaluation. An individualized program will be designed for you to optimally care for your new teeth.
14. Are there alternatives?
Your doctor should describe all reasonable alternatives. Then you will make a decision together as to what is best for you.