Are you missing teeth? Dental implants are a popular option for many people to restore your confidence to eat, speak, and enjoy life with confidence.
The next best thing to real teeth is a dental implant or multiple implants to bring back your healthy smile. Dental implants are designed to look, feel, and function like your natural teeth so you can be confident in your smile.
Dental implants offer several advantages:
- Dental implants reduce the load on the remaining oral structures/teeth by offering independent support and retention to crowns, bridgework and overdentures.
- Dental implants preserve natural tooth tissue by avoiding the need to cut down adjacent teeth for conventional bridgework.
- Dental implants will preserve bone and significantly reduce bone resorption and deterioration that results in loss of jawbone height.
- Dental implants have been shown to reduce the need for subsequent restorative intervention of adjacent teeth.
- Long-term data on implants suggest that implants last for a much longer time than conventional restorations on teeth.
- Implant overdentures may allow you to chew your food better and speak more clearly. Many studies have shown that overdentures contribute to improved chewing efficiency and speaking, compared to full dentures.
- Overdentures will help control/improve facial contours that result in minimizing premature wrinkles.
What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a prosthetic replacement for a missing tooth. Natural teeth consist of the crown and the root. The crown is the visible section that is covered with white enamel. Supporting the crown is the tooth root which extends into the jawbone. The root is the part of the tooth that is effectively replaced by an implant. There are commonly three parts to what is described as an implant - the implant device itself (which is inserted directly into the bone); the abutment - the piece that connects the implant device to the third part - the overlying crown or denture.
Implants can be used to replace a single tooth, several adjacent teeth, all missing teeth in a jaw, or to support a removable or fixed denture. The number of implants being placed will depend on the final restoration and the amount of bone available for the implant.
Today's implants are predominantly made of titanium, a metal that is bio-compatible and offers strength and durability as well as a unique property of fusing directly to bone - the process known as osseointegration. Other materials, such as zirconium, might be used to make implants in the future. But for now, these materials have not been perfected for general use.
What are the benefits of dental implants versus other treatment options?
Benefits of dental implants include:
- Predictable and excellent outcomes with improved appearance, speech, chewing ability, and over oral health. More importantly, implants give patients the confidence to smile, eat, and engage in social activities without worrying about how they look or if their dentures will pop out.
- Preservation of the remaining healthy bone after extraction.
- Preservation of adjacent teeth and their enamel, as they do not need treatment to replace a missing tooth (e.g., bridge).
- Resistance to cavities as implants do not decay like natural teeth.
- Potential for a fixed restoration as opposed to a removable prosthesis.
- Assist in retention of a removable prosthesis.
What is involved in getting dental implants?
The first step involved is a thorough examination and development of a treatment plan. Following that, the placement of the implant and final restoration includes several steps:
- A titanium, screw-shaped implant post is surgically placed in the jawbone and allowed to heal.
- As healing occurs, the implant will “osseointegrate” or fuse with the bone to form a strong, long-lasting foundation for the overlying prosthesis. This can occur within weeks to months. At times, a temporary prosthesis can be used to restore the area while the implant is healing.
- Once the implant has integrated, an abutment that passes through the gum tissue is screwed onto the implant.
- The final prosthesis, which may be an individual tooth, a bridge, or a denture containing multiple teeth is then attached to the abutment.
- Patients are then placed on a regular recall program to help maintain the implant, prosthesis, and remaining teeth following care.
Dental Implants: Overview and Placement Options
Watch these videos to learn more about how dental implants work along with other restorative options such as crowns and bridges.
Are implants right for you?
The best way to know if dental implants are the suitable treatment option is to consult with a dental care professional. During the consultation appointment, the dental care provider will gather a medical history, dental history, and current oral health status. It is recommended to discuss the needs and concerns with the dental care professional, such as a general dentist, or a prosthodontist as part of the treatment planning process.
Here are some of the most common questions we get about dental implants, to help you make the best decision.
Are dental implants expensive?
The fees for dental implants can vary based on the extent of treatment required. You can replace a single tooth, multiple teeth or all of your teeth with implants. For single tooth and limited replacement situations, implant fees are similar to more conventional replacement options (e.g., bridges, partials). For multiple teeth or more complex restorations implants are generally more expensive than other tooth-replacement methods such as removable dentures or fixed bridges on teeth. However, patients normally prefer implant-supported restorations to other alternatives because of their high success rates, similarity to natural teeth, return to normal function, and the ability to recreate a beautiful smile. Therefore, they frequently offer the best alternative, when viewed as a long-term investment in your oral health, comfort and well-being.
How long will it take to get my implants?
The time for implant treatment varies on an individual basis, depending on many factors. It includes evaluation and planning, surgically placing implants, healing, and placing final restorations on the implants. The entire treatment time ranges from immediately placing implants and restorations after removal of a tooth, to several months or even a year after implant placement. More complex treatments usually take longer. It is best to consult with the dental care provider, as he/she needs to evaluate the medical history, dental history and existing condition to determine the best treatment approach.
How long can I expect my implants to last?
Dental implants normally last a long time. However, this requires good home care and routine professional check-ups in the dental office. Like natural teeth, good oral hygiene, flossing, and brushing are needed for dental implants and their supporting restorations. Regular visits to the dental provider for maintenance is essential to monitor the health of dental implants and the connected restorations.
Do dental implants require special care and maintenance?
Dental implant care and maintenance is similar to how your dentist recommends you clean your natural teeth. Depending on the type of dental implant supported prosthesis, you may require a few additional oral care compliments to best maintain your dental work. Typical care for dental implants includes regular dental cleanings and good home care that includes brushing, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash. Some complex dental implant prostheses may require the use of accessories such as a Waterpik, special dental floss or small brushes designed to clean in tight spaces.
Are there any risks to getting dental implants?
Most dental implant procedures involve little to no risk and are safe and involve a relatively comfortable process. Significant health issues such as uncontrolled diabetes, uncontrolled high blood pressure, or serious heart problems, may require consult with your physician prior to dental implant therapy. If you have had teeth extracted without any complications, you should have no problems getting dental implants. Your dental provider will review any risks associated with your specific dental implant care needs.
Some content courtesy of the Academy of Osseointegration
Patient Story: Restoring a Smile and Confidence
Digital Dentistry Innovation at UIC College of Dentistry
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UIC College of Dentistry provides expert, affordable crown and implant options to replace missing teeth and restore healthy smiles.
General dentists and prosthodontists at UIC provide expert and affordable dental implant restorations. During the initial visit, we can provide an estimate of costs and time to complete the treatments.