Dental implants have changed the way we work with missing teeth.
What are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is a surgical structure, made of metal and shaped like a screw, that is placed into the jawbone and allowed to fuse with the bone through the process of osseointegration over a few months so it can act as an anchor for a replacement artificial tooth (crown) with the help of an abutment device. This does a great job mimicking a natural tooth as it stands stable on its own and doesn’t need help from (or affect) the nearby teeth. In simple words, dental implants replace missing teeth.
Why Get an Implant?
Whether you want a single tooth, multiple teeth, or all your teeth replaced, dental implants will do the job, and your new teeth will be perfectly functional as well as aesthetic and natural-looking. When you’re looking to replace teeth, you might have three options depending on the state of your teeth:
- Dentures (complete or partial)
Now while dentures are the cheapest option, they can alter the taste of food, and can be uncomfortable in the mouth. It can also be inconvenient to take them out and put them back in. So, most people go for bridges. But those rely on your existing nearby teeth for support, and that’s impossible to do if you don’t have those, or if they’re loose. Despite being of the more affordable options, dentures and bridges will cost you a lot more to maintain than dental implants.
Since dental implants do not rely on or affect adjacent teeth, and are able to stand on their own on the bone, they are an attractive option.
Are Implants for Me?
Once you’ve made your mind, the implantologist will still need to assess whether you’re a candidate for dental implants. The following factors will help determine:
- Location of missing teeth
- Quality/quantity of jawbone
- Patient health (bleeding disorders, infections/allergies, other existing medical conditions)
- Patient’s budget
You can't get a dental implant if you have an acute illness, a bone/soft-tissue disease or infection, or an uncontrollable metabolic disease.
With a success rate of nearly 98%, complications like infections may occur in rare cases. Or the implant may fracture or overload to damage surrounding nerves, teeth, and blood vessels. It is recommended to choose an experienced implantologist to ensure proper positioning of the implant. In rare cases, the implant may move or an incision may open after surgery.
The implant could risk failure if you suffer from HIV, diabetes, AIDS, osteoporosis, psychiatric disorders, or have tooth grinding habits or smoke heavily.
Types of Implants
Dental implants can be of two types:
- Endosteal implants are the most common, and are embedded in the jawbone. These can hold one or more artificial teeth.
- Subperiosteal implants have a metal frame fixed on top of the jawbone under the gum tissue if the jawbone is not high enough.
What Will it Cost?
While it depends on the number and type of the implant(s), and the brand, on an average, this will cost you around 18k - 45k. The crown can cost anywhere from 4k - 20k based on the material (zirconia, porcelain fused to metal, hybrid) and the type of prosthesis (screw-retained, cement-retained).
Pros of Getting Dental Implants
So why should you get an implant and not the other options?
- The success rate is 98% today.
- That they are usually made of titanium means the body won’t reject them as a foreign object.
- They won’t harm adjacent teeth. Like for a bridge, the neighboring teeth will likely need to be shaved down 2mm to fit the bridge, but this won’t happen with implants.
- Implants won’t accelerate bone loss caused by lack of stimulation from biting and chewing, unlike dentures.
- They fuse into the bone structure, so they will stand on their own.
- They’ll look and feel like your natural teeth.
- They won’t decay.
- They’ll cost less for maintenance.
- They won’t affect speech or taste.
Will it Hurt?
Your implantologist is specially trained in dental implants, and will use local anesthesia while performing the surgery so there’s no pain involved. He will place a cold ice pack on the skin to avoid swelling after the surgery. Once the anesthesia wears off, you may experience discomfort less than that of when you get a tooth extracted. But this can be managed with an OTC pain medication like ibuprofen.
I Got an Implant. What Now?
It is essential to maintain good oral hygiene with routine brushing and flossing, along with regular visits to the dentist to make sure everything stays okay. If a bacterial infection or excessive biting forces on the implant cause the gums and bone around the implant to inflame, that is a sign of a condition called peri-implantitis, and delaying treatment can ruin the implant.