Frank C. Greider, MS, DDS, PC · Prosthodontics, Houston Texas
An implant is a titanium "root" which can be placed into the jawbone. Once integrated with your bone, the implant can be used to support a crown, a bridge, or secure a complete denture. Dental implants may be used to eliminate partial plates and dentures. The success rates for dental implants are extremely high which is due in part to the fact that root-form implants are made of a bio-compatible material, titanium. Dental implant treatment represents a slightly greater investment than conventional treatment; however, the benefits of implant therapy for most patients outweigh the minor additional cost involved.
Dental Implant FAQs
What is a dental implant?
Implants are a tooth replacement option that involves placing a new "root" into the bone of your jaw. Once this titanium "root" has infused with your bone, it can be used to support a crown, bridge, or denture. These implants can also be used to replace partials and other forms of dentures. The success rates for dental implants are extremely high. This is due in part to the fact that root-form implants are made of a bio-compatible material, titanium. Because titanium is accepted so well by the human body, it is also used for orthopedic implants, such as hip and knee replacements. Dental implants have now become the standard for replacing older dentistry and missing teeth because they look and feel like your natural teeth, and have a higher success rate than all other forms of tooth replacement. The initial cost is generally higher for an implant over other forms of tooth replacement, but the long-term benefits easily outweigh the difference in additional cost. An investment in implant dentistry is an investment in overall health, appearance and well being, as it involves preserving the integrity of facial structures, as well as replacing missing teeth.
Why are dental implants the best option?
Dental implants can last a lifetime, unlike bridges, partials and dentures that may need to be replaced several times. Unlike bridges, partials and dentures, a dental implant replaces the lost tooth root, which will prevent jaw bone resorption that occurs with bridges, partials and dentures. The loss of tooth roots will cause a change of the smile and contours of the face over time. A bridge, once the common single-tooth replacement method, requires the alteration of each neighboring healthy tooth, which is cut down and shaped to accept a crown. With a dental implant treatment, there is no compromise to adjacent teeth. The lost root and crown is replaced leaving neighboring healthy teeth in place. Removable partials connect to healthy teeth by hooks. Partials may be removed for cleaning and may need to be replaced often. A partial hook connected to healthy teeth will create tooth stress and will loosened the healthy teeth over time. Full arch dentures and partials have the added disadvantage of accelerating the bone resorption process, which, among other things, causes the appearance of premature aging.
How will my teeth look and feel?
A single tooth supported by an implant is like turning back the clock of time. The implant replaces the natural tooth root so the jaw bone and supportive gum tissue is as vibrant as ever. Multiple single implants may support single teeth or an implant-supported bridge. Dental implants may also support the base for full arch dentures to attach to which provides the look, feel and function of natural teeth. Dental implant treatments is the only tooth replacement solution that prevents jaw bone resorption, which can cause your smile to look unnatural and in some cases, change your facial appearance. The long-term aesthetics of dental implants are superior to any other treatment option.
Am I a candidate for dental implant treatment?
If you are missing one or more teeth and in general good health, you are a candidate for dental implant treatment. There are a few qualifying factors that need to be addressed:
- Quality and quantity of available bone for implant placement.
- Uncontrollable diabetes or other medical conditions.
Overall, there are very few conditions that would keep someone from having implant treatment. Even people who have lost a significant amount of bone can qualify for dental implant treatment; although, an additional procedure(s) to add bone or to create new bone may be necessary. Advances in this type of treatment have made it possible for most people who would not previously have been considered candidates to have successful implant treatment.
Is my age a factor for dental implant treatment?
Providing your overall health is good, there is really no age restriction. The desire to improve your quality of life is frankly a more important consideration than age. It is not unusual for people with dentures to upgrade to implant-supported dentures. It provides a renewed self-confidence in their smile and speech. It also provides renewed chewing stability, plus it brings back foods into their life that were once off limits.
How long will it take to complete treatment?
Traditional treatment may take anywhere from several weeks to several months, depending upon the quality of the bone in which the implants are placed. If an additional procedure is required in order to augment the bone, the total treatment time may be between six to nine months. Some implant candidates may qualify for Immediate Load / Immediate Function procedures, also known as "same day implants."
Is a dental implant procedure painful?
Most implant patients report that the discomfort is far less than they expected and is no more remarkable than having a root canal or like having a tooth extracted. Of course you are anesthetized during the procedure; and although everyone's pain tolerance is different, most patients are very comfortable simply taking over-the-counter analgesics afterward.
How long do dental implants last?
Dental implants are designed to be permanent; however, there are a few factors that may contribute to the long-term success of dental implant treatment, such as the original quality of the surgical and restorative treatment, proper home care and regular check-up visits to your dentist or dental specialist. Dental implant treatment is one of the most successful procedures in the medical/dental field, with documented success rates over 95%. Dental implants have been around for over 30 years and have closely documented clinical research that demonstrates that dental implants will be successful throughout the lifetime of a patient. By comparison, research also demonstrates that the average tooth-supported bridge (conventional dentistry) lasts from 7-10 years and that partials and dentures are functional for approximately 5 years before having to replace the appliance.
Can a dental implant work with existing dentures?
Every patient's situation is unique; however, from time to time, we can use an existing denture by altering the denture to accommodate the necessary denture attachments to fit the implants.
What is the difference between a traditional crown and bridge and an implant-supported crown and bridge?
There are several differences:
- A dental implant preserves jaw bone.
- We do not have to destroy neighboring healthy teeth by grinding down the teeth to pegs in order to accept a crown.
- Implants last longer than a traditional crown and bridge. Implants are designed to last a lifetime, while a traditional crown and bridge is projected to last approximately 10 years and may need to be replaced.
Although dental implants have become the standard of care, they are more expensive than old tooth replacement methods. They are a better choice for the money; however, some dentists still recommend traditional tooth-supported bridges for patients due to their own comfort level or when patients insist on having the immediate lowest possible fee for tooth replacement. Most dentists today detest the idea of grinding down perfectly healthy teeth to place a traditional bridge; and therefore, will almost always recommend dental implant treatment in these cases.
When should a tooth be extracted and replaced with a dental implant?
There are times when it makes sense to extract a tooth and replace it with a dental implant.
- If a natural tooth is failing or about to fail.
- If a tooth has severe periodontal disease (gum disease) that has eroded the bone that supports the teeth. Sometimes in these cases, it is preferable to extract the teeth, eliminate the disease and infection, and replace the teeth with a dental implant.
- When a tooth has had a root canal (nerves have been removed from the tooth) leaving the tooth brittle and susceptible to fracture. Teeth with severe fractures are usually extracted and are ideal candidates for replacement with dental implant treatment.
Do dental implants require special care?
Home care for a single tooth dental implant or for a crown and bridge dental implant is cleaned like a natural tooth, with regular brushing, flossing and regularly scheduled hygiene appointments as directed by your dentist. Home care is a little more complicated for people who are missing all of their teeth, in that special brushes and floss are often recommended. Permanently fixed implant-supported replacement teeth are cleaned like all other bridges. If a surgical specialists who placed the implant(s) is involved, they may want to see you at least once each year in addition to your regular dentist. These visits, combined with proper home care, are essential to the long-term success of implant treatment.
What is the cost of dental implant treatment?
The actual cost of dental implant treatment is based on a number of factors, such as the number of missing teeth being replaced, the type of implant-supported teeth (treatment option) recommended and whether additional procedures are necessary to achieve the proper aesthetic and functional result. The only way to accurately estimate the cost for an individual patient is to have an examination and consultation with your dental specialist. The total fee is usually comparable to other methods of tooth replacement; however, long-term implant treatment is generally more cost effective than other options, such as bridges, partials and dentures that need to be replaced every 5-10 years.
Is dental implant treatment covered by my insurance?
Dental insurance coverage of implant treatment depends on your individual policy. Dental benefits are determined by the amount an employer is willing to spend on the policy. Generally, dental policies cover basic routine preventive maintenance, basic care and emergencies. Most insurance plans only cover the basics with an annual maximum allowable benefit of $1,000-$1,500. Most insurance plans do not include dental implant coverage; however, often they will pay the same benefit they would cover for the lowest cost alternative treatment option (partials and dentures) and some of the diagnostic records, if a specific request is made for alternative benefits. You should review your dental insurance plan and your medical insurance plan to see the coverage available to you. Medical coverage is very rare and Medicare does not cover implant treatment. All in all, it is best to assume that there is no medical insurance coverage available.
There are many benefits to receiving a dental implant over other forms of treatment:
- Neighboring teeth do not have to be compromised
- Implants allow you to keep your jaw structure
- They look and feel like natural teeth
- Dental Implants can replace partials and are used to secure loose dentures
The i-CAT 3-D dental scan system is well in advance of any x-ray system. The i-CAT provides 3-D images of the teeth, jaw, sinuses and skull structure in 1/20th of a second with significantly less radiation than a medical CT scan.
The 3-D scans from the i-CAT provide anatomically accurate data and surgical predictability for:
- Implant placement
- TMJ analysis
- Airway assessments
- Orthognathic surgery
In order to place an implant, a couple of steps must be taken:
1) An incision is made into the gums using very precise measurements, then using a very small drill, the jawbone is given a "tap" that will allow the implant to be placed. After the implant is screwed into place, the gums are closed up and the healing process begins. This process can take approximately three to six months to ensure the implant has fused with the bone and created a sturdy base for the new teeth.
2) When the implant is ready, an abutment is attached to the implant, which allows for a new crown to be placed or a denture to be attached.
Immediate Load Implants
By age 50, the average American has lost 12 teeth (National Institute of Health statistic). People live with gaps, bridges, dentures, sunken faces, and an inability to chew food properly or to eat many of the foods they like. They canâ€™t even smile without being ashamed. These problems compromise their quality of life on a daily basis.
What does immediate loading / immediate function mean?
Removable partial denture can cause damage to existing teeth and gums. The TeethToday Center is among a few Dental Implant Centers in the region offering Immediate Load / Immediate Function procedures for replacing missing teeth. With this time and cost savings procedure, a high resolution 3D CAT scan, is used with virtual planning software to plan and facilitate the design and fabrication of both the temporary and final replacement teeth. To save on treatment time, this procedure is completed after the initial consultation with the patient and before the scheduled implant placement itself.
TeethTodayÂ® is the name of this innovative dental procedure during which a patient is given new teeth supported by dental implants, with the entire procedure being completed in 1 or 2 office visits within a 24 hour time period. The procedure uses what is called the immediate load technique where the new provisional tooth and the implant post are placed during the same procedure or within one day. Patients will never leave our office without teeth.
Why consider immediate loading or TeethToday dental implants?
Removable dentures or other dental appliances are frequently uncomfortable, even painful, ill fitting and sometimes will just sit on a shelf at home. Removable appliances can cause bone loss (atrophy) and gum recession. These dental appliances are often difficult to keep clean which can result in a bacteria infested environment that can lead to infections, bad breath, more root canals and weaker teeth that may fracture and lead to subsequent tooth loss. Dental appliances often have an unnatural appearance too, which is why they are known as "false teeth."
Most people take dining in restaurants or kissing someone you love for granted. Individuals with dental appliances, such as removable dentures, know that intimate situations or social dining can be a frequent cause of embarrassment. In addition, these appliances may even make it difficult to speak clearly enough for you to be understood by your family, friends and business associates.
For denture wearers all these normal, everyday experiences are rarely discussed -- it is almost taboo or too awkward to approach these subjects with your family or friends. You just learn to live with the shame, indignity and humiliation of a mouth that has betrayed you. If this sounds like your life then now is your opportunity to take control of your mouth with the help of Dr. Ganeles, Dr. Norkin, and Dr. Zfaz and TeethToday.
Whether you have failing teeth, bad teeth, removable appliances, fixed bridges, old dental implants, or you need to replace a single-tooth, multiple teeth or even a full mouth of teeth TeethToday will make you feel like a whole person again. Your smile will make you look like the person you remember seeing in the mirror or the person you always wanted to see.
Believe it or not, TeethToday makes it possible for you to walk into our office with missing teeth and leave with a completely new set of beautiful teeth. In one day. Believe It!
Can I really walk out of the office with NEW teeth and actually go out and eat with them right away?
Yes. In both clinical research and in our dental practice we have successfully used our TeethToday procedure to provide patients aged 16 to 100+ with new teeth. The doctors at the TeethToday Dental Implant Center are some of the world leaders in using this revolutionary technology!
Our patients have shared with us their success stories of what walking out of our offices with permanent teeth has meant to them. Being able to eat their favorite foods again. You can carefully eat immediately and you can take a bite out of that delicious apple in a few weeks.