A dental implant is a self-supporting dental device that is inserted into the jaw to replace a missing tooth. It restores a patient’s ability to comfortably chew and creates a natural, healthy appearance.
Because implants are both attractive and comfortable, they’re an increasingly popular choice among people who are missing teeth.
There are three parts of a dental implant: the implant body, the abutment, and the crown.
The body is the part of the implant that is surgically inserted into the jawbone. It is made of metal – usually titanium – and resembles a screw. This part of the implant is designed to replace the root of your tooth.
The abutment attaches to the body and protrudes out from the gum. This piece, also metal, is what the crown is attached to.
The crown is the visible portion of the implant. It’s shaped to resemble your missing natural tooth. Crowns are commonly made out of porcelain, but they can also be made from dental composite or resin.
The most obvious benefit of a dental implant is its restorative cosmetic function. Implants are a natural way to disguise a missing tooth.
They also restore comfort in chewing, drinking, and eating. Chewing and speech patterns can quickly change to compensate for missing teeth, so implants are an important way to retain these behaviors.
Because implants are inserted into the jaw, they can help prevent bone loss. Overall, they improve quality of life for the patient. They prevent pain, discomfort, and the “sunken” facial features that come with missing teeth.
The cost of a single dental implant ranges from $1,000 to $4,000 and up. The price varies greatly depending on location, materials, and dental insurance coverage.
Talk to your dentist about your coverage and the expected out-of-pocket costs for your implant. They can provide you with the most accurate quote for your situation.
Your dental implant procedure will begin with the removal of your damaged tooth, if it is not already fully removed.
If your jawbone is too thin or soft in the implant area, you will receive a bone graft. Your dentist might use bone from another area of your body or artificial bone to create a more solid area for your implant. After receiving a bone graft, you must let the bone heal for several months.
Next, your dentist will cut your gum and drill a hole in the bone. The metal implant body will be placed in the hole. Then, you must wait several months for bone growth to occur around the implant.
Once the implant is ready, the abutment will be attached. This might require the re-cutting of your gum in a minor surgery. Following the placement of the abutment, your gums will need to heal for at least two weeks.
Finally, your crown can be placed on the abutment.
The overall implant procedure takes several months and multiple different stages of surgery. Both general and local anesthetic are used during different parts of the process.
Implant bodies are designed to last your entire life. The crown attached to them will need to be replaced after about 15 years because of routine wear and tear.
Your implant will last longer if you have a good at-home oral hygiene routine. Brush twice a day, floss regularly, and avoid eating or chewing on very hard objects. Visit your dentist for regular checkups and your implants will enjoy a long life.
Finally, the most important question to ask yourself about dental implants. Are they right for you?
If you suffer from tooth loss, you could probably benefit from implants. However, dentures or a dental bridge might be better for you if you’re missing many teeth. Individual implants are best for replacing one tooth or several teeth that are surrounded by healthy natural teeth.
You must have good baseline oral and gum health to be a strong candidate for implant surgery. The health of your jaw bone and the amount of space in your mouth are other factors that need to be considered before you can commit.