Despite improvements in dental care, millions of Americans suffer tooth loss – mostly due to tooth decay, periodontal (gum) disease, or injury. For many years, the only treatment options available for people with missing teeth were bridges and dentures. But, today, dentists have several options.
The most permanent solution currently available is dental implants, which use the unique properties of titanium to actually implant a replacement tooth into the patient’s mouth. First, a small titanium screw, the implant, is implanted in the jawbone; over the next 2-3 months, the bone actually fuses with the titanium to form an extremely strong bond. A crown is then cemented to its new titanium root. This creates a durable, natural-looking replacement for the missing tooth. Though this process takes longer than designing traditional removable dentures and fixed bridges, it is more durable with a consistent 90% plus long term success history.
You can replace 1 or more teeth almost anywhere in the mouth. Your limits are generally the quality of the bone and any major health issues. Where and how can implants be used?
Secure Your Dentures
You can use 2-4 implants to secure a lower denture and return function, comfort, and self-confidence.
Precision Implant System
How many denture wearers have you seen take their dentures out to eat? What is the point of having dentures if you cannot function with them? A person wearing an upper denture may choose to have 4-6 implants placed and a new denture fabricated with the palate not covered with plastic-like before losing their upper teeth. You can actually taste food again and significantly reduce the taste of plastic when you eat. No more being in public and having your dentures come out when you sneeze or cough. How much would you like that?
A person that has a good set of existing dentures can often have implants placed, wear the existing dentures while healing and the titanium is fusing with the bone and then have those dentures retrofitted to the implants to snap in and out. You go from minimally functioning dentures to ones you can actually eat with.
Secure a Removable Partial
Let’s say you have a couple of teeth left on the right side of your mouth and lose the last abutment tooth on the left. Your partial now floats on the left and is putting tremendous stress on the remaining abutment teeth on the right which will lead to their future failure. You could have 1-2 implants placed on the left and in many cases retrofit your existing partial to attach to the implants and achieving stability and function again.
What Are the Advantages of Dental Implants?
There are many advantages to dental implants, including:
Improved appearance. Dental implants look and feel like your own teeth. And because they are designed to fuse with bone, they become permanent. Long Term success has been documented at over 90%.
Improved speech. With poor-fitting dentures, the teeth can slip within the mouth causing you to mumble or slur your words. Dental implants allow you to speak without the worry that your teeth might slip.
Improved comfort. Because they become part of you, implants eliminate the discomfort of removable dentures and partials.
Easier eating. Sliding dentures can make chewing difficult and cause rapid deterioration of the bone which makes the problem even worse. Dental implants function like your own teeth, allowing you to eat your favorite foods with confidence and without pain.
Improved self-esteem. Dental implants can give you back your smile and function, helping you to feel better about yourself.
Improved oral health. Dental implants don’t require reducing other teeth, as a tooth-supported fixed bridge does. Because nearby teeth are not altered to support the implant, more of your own teeth are left intact, improving your long-term oral health. Individual implants also allow easier access between teeth, improving oral hygiene.
Durability. Implants are very durable and will last many years. With good care, many implants last a lifetime. They do not get tooth decay or need root canals. They can get periodontal (gum) disease. How do you take care of them? Brush and floss them just like regular teeth and see your dentist and dental hygienist every 6 months. We can help take care of what you miss or cannot see. Just because something does not hurt does not mean there is not a problem. We can help you take care of your investment and your oral health.
Convenience. Removable dentures are just that; removable. Dental implants eliminate the embarrassing inconvenience of removing your dentures, as well as the need for messy adhesives to keep your dentures in place.
How Successful Are Dental Implants?
Success rates of dental implants vary, depending on where in the jaw the implants are placed but, in general, dental implants have a success rate of up to 90%. With proper care, implants can last a lifetime.
Can Anyone Get Dental Implants?
In most cases, anyone healthy enough to undergo a routine dental extraction or oral surgery can be considered for a dental implant. Patients should have healthy gums and enough bone to hold the implant. They also must be committed to good oral hygiene and regular dental visits. Heavy smokers, people suffering from uncontrolled chronic disorders – such as diabetes or heart disease – or 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.
Does Insurance Cover the Cost of Dental Implants?
Many insurance plans do cover implants these days with more coming on board every year. Our office can help you determine whether your plan covers implants. You can also contact the Human Resources person where you work. 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 Myra, our Insurance and Financial Coordinator, and your insurance provider.
What Is Involved in Getting a Dental Implant?
The first step in the dental implant process is the development of an individualized treatment plan. The plan addresses your specific needs and is prepared by Dr. Schick and an oral surgeon. This allows us to make sure that you are a good candidate and to develop a treatment plan to restore the implants to their planned function once they are healed. This team approach provides coordinated care based on the implant option that is best for you.
Next, the implant, which is a small post made of titanium, is placed into the bone in the area of the missing tooth. In the right circumstances, an un-restorable tooth can be removed and the implant placed at the same appointment. This must be evaluated to determine whether you are a candidate for this type of placement. This generally cannot be done with molars because of the size of the tooth and their multiple roots and never in the presence of severe infection. As the jawbone heals, it grows around the implanted titanium post, anchoring it securely in the jaw. The healing process takes on average 2-3 months.
Once the implant has bonded to the jawbone, a small connector post – called an abutment – is attached to the post to securely hold the new tooth. To make your new tooth or teeth, Dr. Schick makes impressions of your teeth and creates a model of your bite (which captures all of your teeth, their type, and arrangement). Your new tooth or teeth are based on this model. A replacement tooth, called a crown, is then cemented to the abutment.
Instead of one or more individual crowns, some patients may have attachments placed on the implant that retain and support a removable denture.
Dr. Schick will match the color of your new teeth to your natural teeth. Because the implant is secured within the jawbone, the replacement teeth look, feel, and function just like your own natural teeth.
How Painful Are Dental Implants?
Most people who have received dental implants say there is very little discomfort involved in the procedure. Local anesthesia is used during the procedure, and most patients report that implant placement is much easier than a tooth extraction. General anesthesia is available for those who desire it. Dr. Schick will refer you to an oral surgeon for the implant placement and you can visit with him about the anesthesia that is right for you. We want you to be comfortable during this procedure.
After the dental implant is placed, mild soreness can be treated with over-the-counter pain medications, such as Tylenol or Motrin. There are exceptions and the proper medication can be prescribed as needed. Each case will be evaluated, and post-operative care is based on the merits of the case and the information you provide us with your concerns. Generally, implant placement is a very low trauma procedure and the majority of patients are surprised how well it goes.
How Do I Care for Dental Implants?
Dental implants require the same care as real teeth, including brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups.