Dental implants are a life-changing solution for tooth loss, but the decision to invest in this treatment can be a big one. On one hand, dental implants can fully restore your bite, smile, and confidence. They’re comfortable and durable, and they look great. On the other hand, they can also be costly and take several months to place.
At Ormond Beach Periodontics & Implant Dentistry, we’ll do everything we can to educate you about treatment options so you can make the best decisions for your oral health. However, we also encourage you to do your own research and weigh the pros and cons when it comes to a large procedure like dental implants. To help make the process easier, we compiled this list of frequently asked questions and answers related to dental implants. Below is everything you need to know:
Q. What Are Dental Implants?
A. Dental implants are artificial teeth inserted directly into the jaw. Implants are widely considered to be the best option for replacing missing teeth. A single implant consists of a titanium screw (the implant), an abutment (the connector), and a crown (the artificial tooth). These three pieces together form the entire structure of the implant.
Q. Where Do I Go For Dental Implants?
A. Dental implants are placed by a periodontist. Periodontics is a form of dentistry that specializes in gums and implant dentistry. To find a good periodontist, you can ask your dentist for a referral, ask friends or family for a recommendation, or research providers online. If you’re in Central Florida, many patients seek out Dr. Stuart Beauchamp at Ormond Beach Perio for dental implants.
Q. Why Not Go For Dentures Instead?
A. Dental implants look and feel much more like real teeth. While dentures are likely more affordable, they are not as durable, comfortable, or reliable as implants. You also have to remember to remove and clean your dentures nightly.
Q. Are There Any Risks?
A. There are always risks with any surgical procedure; however, the risks are minimal. The biggest risks are infection at the implant site or damage to surrounding teeth, gums, or nerves — both are very rare.
In some cases, not getting dental implants may create more risk for a patient. Tooth loss can lead to rapid deterioration of the jawbone due to lack of stimulation. Dental implants help to prevent jawbone atrophy.
Q. How Do I Know If I’m A Candidate?
A. Chances are good that you will qualify. Good oral health and jawbone density are two requirements for dental implants; however, patients aren’t automatically disqualified for failing to meet one or both criteria. Your periodontist can offer treatments to improve your oral health and strengthen your jaw prior to placing the implants.
As a result, the overwhelming majority of patients qualify for dental implants regardless of age. On rare occasions, certain health conditions may disqualify you, so it’s important to provide your periodontist with your complete medical history during the evaluation.
Q. What If My Jaw Isn’t Strong Enough For Implants?
A. A weakened or deteriorating jawbone doesn’t automatically disqualify you from receiving dental implants. A periodontist will likely recommend a bone graft. During this procedure, bone is lifted from another area of your jaw and used to strengthen the weakened section. This procedure does require time to heal, so it may extend the procedure schedule.
Q. How Much Do Dental Implants Cost?
A. Several factors influence the cost of dental implants. The number of implants needed, the condition of the patient, and jawbone density all factor into the total procedure cost. During your initial consultation, your periodontist will be able to evaluate your condition and provide an estimate for the procedure.
In general, implants typically cost more than other treatments such as dentures or dental bridges. However, many patients find the extra cost to be well worth it in the end.
Some insurance policies cover dental implants, but not always. If your policy does not cover the procedure, be sure to ask your provider about financing options.
Q. What Is The Process Like?
A. Dental implants are placed over a series of appointments with several weeks of healing time in between. The first step involves connecting the implant to the jaw, after which your gums need time to heal and grow around the implant. At the next appointment, the abutment will be added to the “root”. Then a few weeks later, the artificial tooth will be attached to the abutment. The exact timeline really depends on the patient and healing progress between appointments.
Q. Does The Procedure Hurt?
A. Patients should expect minimal discomfort during the actual procedure. Pain can be managed with general anesthesia, local anesthesia, or light sedation. After each stage of the procedure, patients will likely feel some mild soreness and discomfort.
Q. Are Dental Implants Removable?
A. No, dental implants function like real teeth. Because they are securely connected to the jaw, they are not designed to be removed.
Q. What Can I Eat With Dental Implants?
A. You can eat almost anything once the implants have fully healed. However, it is recommended you only stick to soft foods for the first few weeks after the procedure. You should also avoid sticky, spicy, and overly crunchy foods for a few months. After you’re cleared by your periodontist, you can resume normal eating activity.
Q. How Long Do Dental Implants Last?
A. Implants are highly durable, and this is one of their top advantages. With regular care, they can last decades or even a lifetime. They are considered a permanent solution to tooth loss.
Q. How Do I Care For Dental Implants?
A. Good oral hygiene is essential for the longevity of your implants. While dental implants are not susceptible to decay, maintaining healthy gums is essential. If your gums deteriorate, they may no longer adequately support the implant. In order to maximize their lifespan, do what you can to keep your gums in good health. Brush twice daily and floss regularly. Bi-annual dental cleanings are also recommended.
Q. How Do Dental Implants Feel?
A. Very much like real teeth! Implants are very comfortable. After several weeks, many patients don’t even realize they are there. You can expect to regain the full function of your bite.
Q. Do Dental Implants Look Natural?
A. Yes, you can expect to have your smile back. Dental implants are the closest thing to real, natural-looking teeth. The crown is custom designed for each patient, so they should closely match your existing teeth.
Now that you know just about all there is to know about dental implants, you can decide if the treatment is right for you. Do you have a question not listed in the FAQ above? Contact us at Ormond Beach Perio and we’ll be happy to answer it for you.