What is a dental implant? | Lakeview Dental Procedures

What is a dental implant?

A dental implant is an artificial tooth made of titanium that is surgically anchored into your jaw to hold a crown, bridge, or denture in place. Titanium is a metal that is very compatible with human body tissue. The benefit of using implants is that they do not rely on neighboring teeth for support, they won’t decay, they feel just like a natural tooth and are permanent and fixed.


Can anyone receive a dental implant?

Implants can be placed in patients as young as 16 years old as well as in patients in their 90’s. Overall, you must be in good health, have the proper bone structure, and have healthy gums for the implant to integrate with the bone. People who are unable to wear dentures may also be good candidates. If you suffer from chronic problems such as severe clenching and systemic diseases such as diabetes, the success rate for implants decreases. Talk to your dentist about whether you are an implant candidate.


What can I expect during the procedure?

The dentist must perform surgery to anchor the “artificial root” into or on your jaw bone. The procedure is done in the dental office with local anesthesia. The implant will remain in place for about three months until it fuses with the bone. The dentist then uncovers the implant and attaches an extension called a healing cap. After two weeks, your implant is ready to be restored as planned.


Is the procedure painful?

In contrary to what most patients believe, implant placement is by far less traumatizing than having a tooth removed; thus, causing less post-op discomfort. Obviously, there are always exceptions to the rule and more difficult and involved cases that have a higher post-op discomfort. Your dentist should be able to answer these questions. Regardless of the complexity, any post-op discomfort will be treated with pain medications to maximize your comfort.


How long does it take until the implant is fully restored? | Lakeview Dental Procedures

How long does it take until the implant is fully restored?

It depends on the complexity of the case. Generally speaking, after the implant is surgically placed, the osseointegration (healing phase) of dental implants can take anywhere from three to four months to complete. Each patient heals differently so times will vary. Restoring it with a crown will take a few additional weeks. If you need a removable appliance such as a denture or partial denture, it will add a few additional weeks or so.


How much does the surgical placement or an implant cost? | Lakeview Dental Procedures

How much does the surgical placement or an implant cost?

The cost of a dental implant varies greatly which is always very confusing for the patient. The final cost depends on a few factors as described below.

how-much-does-it-cost? | Lakeview Dental Procedures

Site preparation

If the surgical site has sufficient thickness and height of bone, the implant placement is straightforward. However, if the bone height or width is very close to that of the implant body, the area will need to be grafted to add new layers of bone. This does add to the overall cost especially when a larger amount of bone needs to be utilized. Unfortunately, most areas (not all) will need bone grafting because once a tooth is removed, the site starts to lose bone and will continue over the years. The longer you wait to receive an implant, the more expensive it becomes.

Level of complexity

Certain areas are very favorable with no adjacent anatomical structures to be concerned with. This would make the procedure for the surgeon much easier without having to worry about complications. There are areas that are quite challenging with a higher chance of complication. This will greatly affect the cost of the procedure.

Brand of implant used

Probably 99% of patients do not ask nor are they aware of that there are many different implant brands in the market. There are implants that could be bought for 1/5th of the cost of some of the well-known brands. But does it really matter?There are certainly some advantages to using well-known brands. Unlike the less expensive brands, these implants have been extensively researched and tested. Also, many smaller implant companies can go out of business or be bought out over the years; consequently, you may no longer be able to find implant parts for those specific brands, hence, rendering those implants non-restorable when a replacement part, such as a screw, would need to be replaced. Last but not least, implants have a special coating. The process involves a series of very specific steps that are unique to each manufacturer. The coating will have an impact on the long-term success rate. This is one example of the importance having documented research papers to prove the effectiveness of these coatings. Less expensive brands lack these documentations.

Who places it

There is no recognized specialty for placing implants. Any dentist could place implants. Certain specialists learn to place implants as part of their training. Others take either hands-on classes or go through a one-year full-time residency to learn the procedure. Typically, specialists have a slightly higher fee. What is important is that whoever places implants has done a fair number of them and knows his/her limitations as to what cases to select and what cases to refer.

All of the above-mentioned points will have an impact on the final cost.


Is there anything else I should know about implant costs? | Lakeview Dental Procedures

Is there anything else I should know about implant costs?

Yes. An implant without the restorative part will not be of any use to you. You will need a crown or an appliance to make it fully functional. It is not uncommon to encounter patients who did not realize that the fee they were given was for the surgical placement only, and they were not able to afford the crown portion. Make sure you inquire about the total cost to fully restore the implant. Some offices advertise a very low implant placement fee but have a much higher restorative fee to make up for the difference. This is why it is important to look at the whole big picture prior to making any decisions. Never start an implant treatment without having a consultation with a restorative dentist as well. Do not assume that every dentist who places implants will also restore implants.


What are the complications and success rate associated with dental implant placement?

Any successful and safe treatment in medicine presents a certain risk. You should always talk to your dentist about possible complications as it depends on many factors, such as your health, implant location, lifestyle, etc. Overall, the success rate for implants depends on the tooth’s purpose and location in the mouth, as well as patient’s overall health. Dental implants have a very high success rate exceeding 95%.


How do I care for my dental implants?

Implants need to be cleaned like any natural tooth in your mouth. In order to increase the longevity of an implant, a thorough and reliable oral hygiene routine is crucial. Also, a professional cleaning of the implant teeth should take place at regular intervals. Always remind your hygienist that you have implants. The hygienist uses stainless steel instruments to clean your natural teeth. These instruments have a tendency to scratch the implant and should be avoided! There are special instruments to clean implants.

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