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Thinking About Dental Implants?

Dental implants are often the best option when replacing a missing tooth or several missing teeth. Interested in dental implants but want to know a little bit more about them before making the decision? Here is a quick guide to dental implants.

Dental Implant graphic showing cross section of a tooth.

What is a dental implant?

It is a surgical-grade titanium anchor which is placed in the area once occupied by the root of your tooth. After the implant heals and integrates with its surroundings, your dentist can attach a tooth to the implant/anchor. In most cases, your new implant-supported tooth will look, feel and function just like your natural teeth.

How long does the process take?

Start to finish, the process can take anywhere from three to 10 months or more. If you're having the tooth extracted, the surgeon will usually allow the site to heal for two to four months after the extraction before placing the implant. Once the implant is placed another two to four months is allowed for the surrounding bone and tissues to heal and actually “fuse” to the implant.

Does that mean I'm going to have to go without a tooth for up to 10 months?

No. In most cases, a temporary restoration/appliance can be made and inserted at the same appointment during which the tooth is removed. There are several options available to temporarily replace the missing tooth/teeth. Your dentist will review your options and help you pick which option is best for you and your situation. All temporary options are all designed to achieve an aesthetic appearance that closely mimics your natural teeth as you wait for your final implant crown.

Can the implant be placed at the same visit that a tooth gets removed?

In some cases, the implant can be placed at the visit that a tooth is extracted. However, for most cases the implant will be healthier long-term if the extraction site is allowed time to heal before the implant is placed.

Who places the implant?

At Allegany Dental Care, we do not place implants yet. We refer our patients to Oral Surgeons and Periodontists in the area in order to have the implant placed. Then you return to us to have the tooth, bridge, or denture fabricated and placed on the implant.

Do dental implants hurt?

Most patients report that having an implant placed causes less discomfort than the extraction. When a tooth is pulled, your body must work hard to heal and grow new bone in the extraction site. When an implant is placed, a small amount of bone is removed to make space for the implant, but the space is filled with the implant. Your body just has to work on integrating to the implant and not growing new bone this time.

What if I am missing more than one tooth?

Implant are a great option for replacing a single tooth space, but can also replace multiple tooth spaces and help if you have no teeth at all. Implants can have attachments added to allow your denture to snap in, helping them to stay in place. We also can make full arch dentures that do not need to be removed.

Can everybody get dental implants?

Not everybody is a candidate for dental implants. There are complex anatomic considerations including bone density and thickness, nerve and sinus location that can affect your eligibility for implants. However, even if you are not a candidate right now, there may be certain procedures that can allow you to have a dental implant. If you are interested, ask your dentist to see if you are a candidate.

Benefits of Dental Implant(s)

  • Dental implants and the crowns they support are composed of materials that are not susceptible to cavities. Although they will not decay, you still should brush and floss around your implant-crown(s). A clean implant-crown helps to maintain healthy surrounding tissues.
  • Teeth act as a scaffolding to hold up your jaw bone. When a tooth is extracted, you will not only lose the tooth, but over time you will also lose the bone which surrounded and supported that tooth. Implants act to preserve the bone and help to avoid or minimize the amount of bone loss which occurs post-extraction.
  • Confidence- Dental implants have the ability to look, feel and function just like your natural teeth. With dental implant(s) you can be confident in your smile and chewing ability.
  • They are kind to adjacent teeth. Unlike a dental bridge or partial denture, implants do not require neighboring teeth to be “prepped” or recontoured. Additionally, it is simple to keep adjacent teeth clean and cavity-free with only a toothbrush and floss which can be more challenging with a bridge or partial denture.
  • There is no bulky “plate” or apparatus that covers the roof or floor of your mouth which needs to be removed daily as in the case with a partial denture.

What's the catch? What are cons to dental implants?

Cost: As dental implants are the best/premier option when replacing a missing tooth or teeth requiring specialized and custom parts and equipment. They also are typically the most costly option when replacing a missing tooth or teeth. As the saying goes, “you get what you pay for.”

Time: As outlined in the “How Long Does the Process Take?” question, from start to finish, the implant process can take up to 10+ months.

If you have any questions that weren’t answered here, ask your dentist for more information.