What exactly are dental implants?
When people envision dental implants, they are generally thinking of a new tooth. The tooth component is actually the cap, similar to a normal dental crown with which most people are familiar. The implant portion actually consists of a tiny titanium post that serves the same function as a tooth’s root.
Why are dental implants made of titanium?
Titanium is a unique metal in that it is capable of osseointegration, which simply means it is capable of actually fusing to bone. This makes the titanium root incredibly stable. In addition to osseointegration, titanium is also the metal of choice in all types of medical implants thanks to its biocompatibility.
Titanium is more resistant to corrosion from bodily fluids than any other metal and is highly durable even when subjected to highly repetitive use. This resistance is another key reason it is a favorite for hip and knee replacements. Titanium is also highly prized for its bio-inertness, a term referring to the minimal, or non-existent effects, a foreign material has on the surrounding tissues.
How are dental implants placed?
An oral surgeon creates a small incision in the gum through which they drill a small hole into the jaw bone at the desired position ensuring proper placement and angle. Then the implant, which resembles a very small screw with a hole on the top, is screwed into the jaw. The implant itself, once placed, should be below the gum line. The gum incision is then sutured over the implant.
How long does the whole process take?
Traditional implant procedures require a period of approximately five to six months following placement to ensure the implant is fully fused to the jaw bone. However, there are a variety of factors that can affect the length of time osseointegration requires, such as the person’s health, bone density, and other factors.
Once your oral surgeon feels the implant is properly fused, a second procedure is performed, wherein, the implant is once again exposed allowing an abutment to be screwed onto it. The crown is then attached to this abutment.
If a dental crown has yet to be fabricated, your dentist or oral surgeon may place a temporary crown on the abutment. This will require you to go back for one last follow-up appointment so a permanent crown can be installed.
Are there any faster solutions?
Some dentists, including ARCHPOINT Implant Dentistry, offer mini-implants. These are most often used to provide an anchor for dentures or bridges, which can dramatically improve the patient’s comfort, ability to chew, and overall quality of life.
Mini-implants are generally smaller than 3 mm in diameter. Traditional dental implants are often 4 to 6 mm in diameter. The smaller the implant, the less need there is for a lengthy fusing process.
That being said, most single teeth are too large to be adequately rooted by a mini-implant, although it may be an option for smaller teeth.
Modern titanium dental implants are still a relatively new technology, and even more so for mini-implants. Although there is not a lot of substantive research supporting it, some dentists believe the smaller diameter of mini-implants make them structurally weaker for single-tooth applications and unable to stand up to the rigors of everyday chewing that traditional implants can easily tolerate.
What are the risks of dental implants?
As with any surgical procedure, there are always risks with infection being the most prominent. Because drilling into the jaw bone takes place, there is also risk of damage to surrounding teeth, tissues, the jaw area, and nerve damage, as well. In very rare instances, some people with upper jaw implants have had the implant reach the sinus cavity, resulting in sinus problems.
These risks are very minor, and most can usually be remedied if they occur. Implant surgery is considered to be one of the safest dental procedure boasting a history of predictable outcomes.
How much do dental implants cost?
The cost of dental implants depends, primarily, on the number of implants you are receiving and the purpose of the implants. An implant replacing a missing tooth can range between $1,500 to $7,500 depending on the provider and the complexity of the procedure. For example, if the jaw bone has degraded to the point where there is not adequate density to support an implant, then bone grafting may be necessary requiring additional surgery. If grafting is not required, the price of a single implant should be less than $5,000.
Mini-implants used to anchor a bridge or dentures typically cost between $300 and $900 per implant.
The best way to determine how much your dental implant procedure may cost is to schedule a complimentary consultation with the local Dallas/Fort Worth implant professionals at ARCHPOINT Implant Dentistry. We invite you to schedule a free consultation today to learn more about your dental implant options.