What Are Dental Implants?

What Are Dental ImplantsDental implants are a common solution to missing teeth. The most common types of dental implants are comprised of three main pieces – the implant, the abutment, and the crown. The implant serves as an artificial root to the replacement teeth. Once the implant is embedded in the jawbone, your bone will begin to grow around the implant and permanently bond with it. The abutment acts as a connector that attaches to the implant, providing a place to affix the crown. Finally, the crown is the only piece that will be visible upon completion. Crowns are custom made to fit perfectly and are generally indistinguishable from your surrounding teeth. Implants also function just the same and require the same care as natural teeth.

What is the Process of Getting an Implant?

The entire process can range from a few months to over a year, depending on the complexity of your needs. The following is what you can generally expect during the process of getting dental implants:

Initial Consultation

Your dentist will need to thoroughly examine your mouth to see where implants will be needed. This exam may include x-rays and/or 3D images of your mouth. Afterward, your dentist will be able to discuss your implant options and potential costs. At this time, the dentist will work with you to set up a plan for your implant surgery.

Dental Implant Placement

Many people worry if the procedure will hurt and when they’ll be able to return to their normal activities. Thankfully, most patients report that they experienced only minimal discomfort and that they were able to return to most of their daily activities by the next day. During placement of the implant, local anesthesia or IV sedation can be used to ensure your comfort. You can expect some moderate swelling and bruising, and minor bleeding and pain; however, most patients are able to manage this with over the counter pain medication such as Tylenol.

Osseointegration (oss-e-o-in-tuh-GRAY-shun)

After we place the implant, your jawbone will begin to heal and form a permanent bond with the implant. This process, called osseointegration, may take several months, and we may recommend a soft foods diet for the first few weeks to minimize pain and speed up the healing process. After the initial healing from the surgery itself, this process of osseointegration should be pain-free. Your dentist may even be able to place a temporary crown while you wait for the implant to take hold firmly.

Abutment placement

Sometimes, this is done at the same time as the dental implant surgery. Other times this may be done after the implant is completely integrated. The abutment is then attached to the implant in preparation for your custom crown.

Custom-make and attach new teeth

Once your gums have healed from the placement of the abutment, your dentist will take molds of your remaining teeth. This ensures your artificial teeth will fit and match perfectly. Depending on the extent of your needs, these new teeth may need individual crowns, an implant-supported bridge, or multiple replacement teeth. After they are custom made for you, they will be attached to the abutment.

Periodic check-ups

Although your new implants are not real teeth, they still require regular cleaning and maintenance just like your natural teeth. Once the entire process is complete, you should still be seen for regular preventative care exams and cleanings. If well cared for, your new implants can last a lifetime.

Ok, But What About the Cost?

The implants themselves generally cost anywhere from $1,000-$3,000 each, and the additional implements such as abutments and crowns can add an extra $500-$3000 per tooth. These costs vary widely depending on specific dental needs and factors such as:

  • Where you live (higher cost of living can mean higher overhead cost resulting in more expensive procedures and implements)
  • What materials are chosen for the crowns
  • What dental work is needed beforehand

Most insurances cover implants to some extent, but how much they cover varies by plan. You can also talk to our office about payment plans or medical lines of credit, such as Care Credit. For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact South County Smiles today.

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