Permanent Tooth Loss Solutions – Are Dental Implants Right for Me?
Dental implants come in many forms. The most common form currently used is known as the endosteal implant. This type of dental implant utilizes a three component system to replicate the effects and appearance of a natural tooth. The process is performed differently among different dental practitioners, but there is a general method employed by all dentists. Read on to learn more about the dental implant procedure, its costs, and how it is performed.
What is a Dental Implant?
The dental implant concept is a broad umbrella term. At its most basic, this term is used to define any method of permanently adding new material to the mouth such as a bone graft for the jaw bone, or a new artificial tooth. However, in modern dental offices it is most often used as an interchangeable term for an endosteal implant.
The endosteal implant is a procedure that allows a dentist to install a new artificial tooth directly into the jawbone. The term endosteal literally means, “Within the bone.”
Dental implants are used to replicate the actions and the appearance of a natural tooth. Depending on the materials used, the artificial tooth may take on the exact color shade of the neighboring teeth and become virtually indistinguishable from a natural tooth when casually observed.
The endosteal implant has three components. These components are the base, abutment, and crown. Each of these components has their own unique function within the implant.
- The Base – This component is installed directly into the jawbone and has three primary shapes. It comes in the form of a screw, a cylinder, or a blade. The most common shape used is a screw. Typical materials utilized for the base are titanium and zirconium.
- The Abutment – This component is used to connect the base and the crown. It can sometimes be pre-attached to the base. This means that it won’t exist as a separate component. Typically, the abutment is shaped like a cone or rod. It is normally made of either titanium or zirconium.
- The Crown – The third component is the one that will be visible under normal circumstances. The crown is designed to mimic the appearance and function of the tooth that the implant is replacing. The materials used in the construction of this implant are more variable than the other components. Dental acrylic, zirconium, gold, and porcelain are frequently used materials for crowns.
How is a Dental Implant Performed?
The endosteal implant procedure is often performed during three stages. These stages coincide with the installation of the three individual components. In the case of an implant that has the abutment and base pre-attached the entire procedure can be performed in 1 – 2 stages. The implant stages are:
- The gums will be cut and a hole will be drilled into the jawbone. The base will be implanted and stabilized then the gums will be sewn back together. After the base is properly set, the patient will experience a healing period that typically lasts between 2 – 4 months.
- The gums will be cut once more during the second stage. The abutment will be attached to the base, and the gums will be sewn back once more. This procedure will be followed by another 2-4 weeks of healing time. If the abutment was pre-attached this stage will be skipped.
- The crown will be placed once the gums and jawbone have fully healed. This final step will be followed by a period of adjustments to make certain that the artificial tooth is still viable and the crown is not loose. If the abutment was pre-attached a dentist might add the crown on the same day.
No matter how the procedure is performed there will be a period of several months where the patient will need to treat their mouth with care. Once the healing period has ended the artificial tooth will work with the exact same capacity as a natural tooth.
At present there is a 95+% success rate after five years for dental implants placed on the bottom, and a 90+% success rate for artificial teeth placed on the top. Generally speaking, if the implant lasts beyond the five year mark it may continue to be a viable prosthetic for several decades, possibly even an entire lifetime.
What Does the Implant Cost?
The cost for dental implants will vary based on several factors. The location they are performed, the surgeon performing the operation, material costs, and the possible need for accompanying procedures will cause the price to change dramatically.
The typical single dental implant will cost approximately $4250 on average in America and Canada. However, the range of prices available will often waiver between as little as $1500 and as much as $6000 for a simple implant with no complications. The price can balloon up to $10000 or more if the procedure will require tooth extraction, bone grafts, or includes premium dental materials such as gold or porcelain.
If the patient requires extensive dental reconstruction the price can rise to over $95000. This high-end estimate includes 2 – 6 dental implants used to act as permanent anchors for premium quality, realistic, dentures. Bone grafts, expensive materials, realistic craftsmanship, and a host of extra surgical services and procedures are included in this cost.
Are Dental Implants Right for Me?
The endosteal implant is not particularly invasive. There is no upper age limit for the procedure, and most adults can have this procedure performed with little to no concern. However, there are a few people who may not be compatible with this procedure. You may not be compatible with this procedure if:
- You do not perform proper dental hygiene regularly. Improper hygiene can cause the implant to fail.
- You have health issues that would conflict with anesthesia being used, such as heart conditions.
- You have degenerative bone disease in your jawbone. This will make it difficult for the implant to fuse properly with the bone.
- You are a young teenager. Your jawbone must be fully matured before this procedure is recommended. This typically does not happen until around the age of 14 – 15 for girls and 16-18 for boys.
- You do not have a jawbone that can support the implant. If this is the case, you may be able to receive a dental augmentation bone graft to reinforce and reshape the jawbone.
- You are a hemophiliac. While this surgery is not particularly invasive, it can be dangerous for someone who bleeds without clotting appropriately.
Despite these restrictions, if you are in reasonably good health you may be able to receive an implant. You will need to discuss the specifics with your dentist or oral surgeon prior to the implantation process.