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 to replacing missing teeth?

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. When comparing dental implants v.s. dentures, dental implants are almost always the better option as they most likely resemble natural teeth.

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.

Are dental implants safe?

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.

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 also provide you the opportunity to finance your dental implants to ensure they are affordable. We invite you to schedule a free consultation today to learn more about your dental implant options.

Q&A With Dr. Draper

Here are some of the most common questions asked by our patients answered directly by our founding member and Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon, Dr. Thomas Draper DMD, MD.

Dr. Drapper

What are the negative effects of dental implants? How painful is getting a dental implant?

There is less discomfort having an implant placed than having a tooth removed. Implants have such positive effects (maintaining the jaw bone, helping to maintain a healthy diet, bringing about confidence), that I don’t see any negative effects of having a dental implant placed.

How long after dental implants can I eat normally?

You can eat later on the same day! We ask that you begin with a soft diet as a patient is getting used to a healthier new bite.

Does food get stuck under dental implants?

Generally, the gap between the implants and gum tissue is small enough that food does not get stuck. We do ask that patients clean with a water pic after most meals just to keep that small space fresh and clean. That will also help in the longevity and lifelong implant success. Depending on the type of dental implants you have, your dietary considerations can vary significantly

How do you clean under dental implants?

I mentioned this above, with a water pic.

Should I get a bridge or dental implant? What’s the difference between the two?

“A bridge makes a one tooth problem, a 3 tooth problem.” …..An implant is the very best option available. A bridge cuts the enamel of the adjacent teeth thus taking away healthy tooth structure and making possible future new problems with two teeth that are not a current problem.

Why choose a prosthodontist v.s. a general dentist for dental implants?

To put it simply, you wouldn’t go to your general practitioner for heart surgery, so why would you go to your general dentist for dental implant surgery? Choosing a dental implant specialist ensures you receive the highest quality care and the highest quality dental implants. It also ensures your safety and the best possible outcome for your dollar.
Even if your general family dentist has 30-40 years of experience and additional training in oral implantology, they may never have the full understanding of reconstruction and occlusion to the same extent that a prosthodontist does.

How long do dental implants last?

If hygiene is properly maintained, a dental Implant should last forever. I always tell patients that hygiene for your implants is like an oil change for your car. No one ever considers just running their car for years on end without an oil change right? Implants need to have basic maintenance so that they can be successful in the life of the patient.

Are you put to sleep for a dental implant?

We love having our patients say the words, “I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S ALL OVER!!!” 
Our patients are generally asleep for implant placement. It feels like 30 seconds went by for them. It makes for the most pleasant experience. I love being able to give our patients that red carpet-experience! And our anesthesia provider allows for the experience to not only be five stars but also super safe.

When you come for your consultation, our dental implant specialists will be happy to talk to you about your sedation options.

Can you break an implant tooth?

The manufacturer of the implants stands behind and gives a lifetime warranty for implant replacement due to a fracture. We almost never see an implant break.

Do dental implants stay white?

With proper hygiene, the teeth will stay white! This includes the hygiene follow-ups.

Can you smoke if you have dental implants?

While I do not condone smoking, many of our patients smoke. I would love the decision a patient makes to have an implant become a springboard to better overall health (meaning let’s stop the habit), however, I am also aware of how addictive cigarettes are. So while we know that there may be more success in a non-smoker, we have a lot of success with patients who do smoke.

Learn even more by visiting our blog post on Dental Implants FAQ.