A dental implant is made of a titanium metal rod that is placed into the jawbone to replace the tooth roots. It can be used to support one or more false teeth, and is now the preferred treatment option for missing teeth, surpassing both dentures and bridges. A dental surgeon or periodontist will generally prepare your mouth for the dental implants and they will also decide on the types of dental implants to use, as well as how many will be required.
The Dental Implant Procedure
If you think dental implants may be the ideal solution for you, the first step will be to speak to your dentist and have an initial consultation. Whether you are missing just one tooth, or whether you are missing all of your teeth, you could be a candidate for dental implants depending on the state of the bone in your jaw. If you have enough bone and if it is healthy, the dental implant procedure can take place; if not, your dentist is likely to suggest other options which can include either a different implant or a bone graft.
The dental implants will be placed during a small operation which will usually be done under a local anaesthetic. Sedation or a general anaesthetic will be offered to patients who are very nervous about the procedure and for procedures that are more complex. Once the dental implants are fitted, patients are likely to feel pain for around a week after the procedure due to the area healing and the stitches. Your dentist will advise you about how to care for your dental implants and the first week will involve eating soft foods, no smoking and a special mouthwash. You may also be prescribed antibiotics.
A second surgery will follow which helps the gums surrounding the implant to heal.
How Safe are Dental Implants?
The dental implant process can take as long as nine months to a year to complete however most patients are happy to wait this long due to the enormous benefits that come with dental implants when compared to other methods. A patient who is in relatively good health, with healthy gums will not normally have any problem with dental implants, and in their case, the question ‘is dental implant safe’ is a resounding yes, in most cases. The procedure is a success in 95% of cases and the dental implants can last a lifetime if taken care of correctly.
The process is not risk free however, as in 5% of cases the patient can develop an infection at the implant site and there is also a possibility of nerve damage which can lead to numbness or pain. Further damage can also be caused to the sinuses, other teeth and the blood vessels. If any complications do occur such as the implant not bonding with the bone, the dental implant can either be tightened or removed completely depending on the nature of the problem.
Dental Implants Cost
Unfortunately dental implants can be expensive, although there is no set price. The dental implants cost will be determined on an individual basis and will depend on the current health of your gums as well as any extras that may be needed such as a general anaesthetic over a local. However, the dental implants cost is a lot lower in the long run than some of the other tooth replacement methods and the increased quality of life is more than worth the cost for many patients.
Some patients may be able to receive dental implants on their medical insurance plan, although this again will be determined on a case to case basis and will need to be discussed with your insurance provider.