Do you have one or more missing teeth? This can affect your ability to chew, speak, and even engage in social interactions. Dental implants offer a permanent solution to restore your teeth and normal function.
Did you know that over three million Americans receive dental implants each year? Are you considering this option? Are you wondering how to choose the right implant dentist?
Continue reading to learn about dental implants and selecting the best dentist for your needs.
Understanding the Dental Implant Procedure
Dental implants replace one or more missing teeth and often involve several steps depending on your unique needs.
The two most common implant types are endosteal and subperiosteal. If you lack sufficient jawbone tissue, a dentist St George may recommend a bone graft to correct this issue.
For individuals with adequate jawbone tissue, the endosteal method is typically used. The dentist makes a small incision in the gum and places the implant—a titanium screw—into the jawbone.
During the healing process, the bone tissue will grow around and secure the implant. A crown, crafted to match your natural teeth, is then cemented to the post (abutment) on top of the implant.
If your jawbone tissue is insufficient and you don’t want a graft, a subperiosteal implant is an alternative. This involves placing a metal plate under the gum on top of the bone. The crown is then secured to the metal plate.
Options for Replacing Multiple Missing Teeth
If you’re missing several consecutive teeth, your dentist may place an implant at each end of the gap. A bridge is attached to the implants to provide natural-looking and functioning teeth.
These artificial teeth can be removable or fixed.
Snap-on dentures offer an artificial bridge that can be removed for easy cleaning. The dentist uses impressions, X-rays, or other images to create your treatment plan. This includes determining the placement of your implants and the number of “snaps and implants” needed.
Snap-on dentures provide stability and restore your normal ability to speak and chew. Implants also stimulate jawbone tissue growth, preventing bone loss.
If this option interests you, click here to find snap-on dentures near you.
Similar to the removable option, the dentist places implants at each end of the gap. However, several crowns are permanently connected to form the bridge.
What to Expect During the Dental Implant Procedure
Dental implant procedures are typically performed at the dentist’s office. You’ll receive anesthesia, so you’ll sleep through the bone graft and/or implant insertion. When it’s time for the abutment and/or crown placement, the dentist will numb the area as needed.
For several days after the procedure, you may experience bruising and/or swelling in your face and gums. A small amount of bleeding may also occur. The stitches used to close the incision will dissolve on their own.
Discomfort at the implant site is common. You can take over-the-counter medication for relief. Apply cold packs covered with a cloth for 20 minutes at a time to reduce these symptoms.
Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection. If swelling, bleeding, or pain increases or causes concern, contact your dentist’s office.
It’s best to eat soft foods to avoid irritating the site. Practice good, gentle oral hygiene to minimize bacteria in your mouth.
Once the crown(s) is placed, continue with regular tooth brushing and flossing. Be sure to visit your dentist for a professional cleaning and check-up once or twice a year.
Avoid chewing on hard objects and seek help if you grind your teeth to prevent implant or tooth damage. Refrain from smoking and consuming caffeine products, as they can cause tooth staining.
Choosing an Implant Dentist
Today, you have several options for implant dentists. All levels of dental professionals work to preserve and save your natural teeth. However, if you’ve lost some teeth, they can replace them to prevent jawbone loss and tooth movement.
Most general dentists receive training that qualifies them to place dental implants, making it the most common surgery they perform.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons complete training to gain expertise in corrective surgical techniques. They treat mouth, facial structure, jaw, and neck problems, including the placement of dental implants.
A periodontist is a specialized doctor in dentistry, focusing on diagnosing and treating gum diseases. After completing a degree to become a dentist, the individual studies for an additional two to three years. They learn how to perform dental implants, periodontal treatment, and other surgeries. Upon finishing this extra training, they take an exam to become a periodontist.
Dentists may also choose to complete a two-year endodontic residency, which includes training in dental implant placement. After finishing the residency and passing the exam, they become board-certified endodontists.
Online Patient Reviews
When searching for the right dentist, consider reading online customer reviews. Keep in mind that most satisfied people don’t take the time to write a review. More often, you’ll find comments from people who are extremely happy or very upset.
Read multiple reviews and look for common themes. Also, ask for recommendations from people you know and trust, as they can share their experiences with various dentists.
Comparing Dental Implant Costs
When exploring implant costs, it’s crucial to understand that your situation is unique. Costs depend on the extent of treatment you need. If you require tooth extraction, tissue grafts, bone grafts, or sinus lifts, the cost will be higher.
The following costs are estimates and may vary based on your location:
- Single implant: $2,400 to $3,000
- Single implant with extra procedures: $4,000 to $10,000
- Two to six implants and full- or partial-mouth bridges: $3,500 to $30,000
- Full upper and lower implants and dentures: $7,000 to $90,000
Most dental insurance plans don’t cover implants, as they’re considered cosmetic procedures. Some expenses may be covered by your health insurance. Talk with the dentist’s office about payment plans and financing options.