Q: What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a metallic root of a tooth. It is placed in the bone of your jaw by a dental implant dentist and allowed to heal in the bone for a period of time until the bone-implant union is strong enough to support a prosthetic tooth. The implant is made out of titanium, a metal that is very well tolerated by the human body.
Q:How is it used to replace missing teeth?
A: When you are using a dental implant to replace missing teeth, your dentist will first determine if you have enough supporting bone to safely place a dental implant to support a prosthetic tooth. The implant is placed into the bone in a very specific surgical procedure to insure that the implant will not be rejected by your body. In order to place the implant in the bone, it is necessary to cut through the gum tissue. The gum tissue will usually be sewed up either over the implant or around the implant after it is placed into the bone. The implant will then be allowed to heal in the bone for several months until the union is strong enough to support the prosthetic tooth.
Q: What kind of dentist do I need to see?
A: Any dentist can place or restore a dental implant. Dental implants are usually placed by Oral Surgeons, Periodontists, Prosthodontists or General Practitioners. Prosthodontists and General Practitioners will usually be the one's who restore the "teeth". You should start by consulting with your general practitioner or a prosthodontist and determine how much experience and training they have in the general field of Dental Implantology. If you elect to go with one of these practitioners, you can follow their recommendation as to who will actually place your dental implant.
Q: How much do implants cost?
A: Usually around $1500 to $2000. Speak with your dentist.
Q: Are dental implants a permanent solution to tooth loss?
A: Yes dental implants are considered to be a permanent solution. There are, however, some caveats... Sometimes the dental implant does not integrate and it will be lost. In those cases, another implant might be placed that would stay there and become permanent. Sometimes, the restoration will have to be repaired or serviced... As a matter of fact, most restorations will require some degree of maintenance and sometimes replacement over a period of time. You should be prepared for future expenses in this regard.
Q: Are there people who cannot have dental implants?
A: Most everyone can have dental implants placed, but there are some exceptions and some cautions... Patients who are uncontrolled diabetics or have severe psychological problems are not good candidates for dental implants. Patients with severe medical compromises are not good candidates for anything involving surgery although the dental implant procedures can normally be carried out under local anesthesia and are therefor less risky than surgical procedures requiring general anesthesia.
Patients missing a large amount of bone are not good candidates, but bone grafts can be used to replace the missing bone and allow the patient to have dental implants. You should speak very carefully to your dentist and find out just how good a candidate you are for dental implants. If there are things that will make you a better candidate, you should understand them and help to make the decision as to whether they will be implemented.
Those people who require significant bone grafting for implant placement should engage the services of a qualified oral surgeon. Many minor bone grafts can be accomplished by any competent dentist placing dental implants.
7 How to avoid problems with dental implants.
#1. Find out who has implants and ask them who did them and how they came out.
#2. Find qualified ADA specialists, preferably a Board Certified Prosthodontist , to treat you. This is a very demanding area and specialty training is required.
#3. Get a detailed, written treatment plan including all fees and make sure there are no hidden costs.
#4. Get a second Consultation to help you evaluate the first one.
#5. Ask the dentist for names of patients that he or she has treated and for the names of other dentists that he works with. Call them and find out as much as you can about the type of work this dentist does.
#6. Determine the commitment that this dentist has to dentistry and to the area of dental implantology. Does he or she teach? Does he or she publish articles in the scientific dental literature. Is he or she considered an "expert" in this area of treatment.
#7. Look for someone who is confident, cautious and thorough in his or her approach to your dental work.
#8. Call the state board of dentistry and find out if there are any rulings against this practitioner regarding his dental practice.
#9. Don't be afraid to ask how many of these procedures this dentist has performed successfully.
#10. Ask the dentist about failures. What happens if an implant fails. What are the alternatives if this treatment plan does not work?