What are dental implants?

Implants are titanium screws that are composed of 3 main parts- the implant body, the abutment and the crown (figure 1). Implants can be used to replace single teeth (figure 2), multiple teeth such as a fixed bridge (figure 3) and to increase the retention of partial dentures (figure 4) and full dentures (figure 5). The implant body is surgically placed inside the jawbone while the abutment and subsequent crowns/attachment fit above the bone and gums. Implant crowns look natural and feel like natural teeth. They don't require grinding down the natural teeth in the case of replacing a missing tooth between two teeth.

How long do I have to wait before the implant will start functioning as a tooth?

The first step of implants is the surgical placement of the implant body. After that, in conventional methods, it takes approximately 3 to 6 months for osseointegration to take place. Osseointegration means that the implant has fused with the bone and has the best chance of success. When this occurs, it means that the abutment and crown/attachments can now be fabricated which usually takes about 2 weeks.

How successful are dental implants?

It depends on what the definition of “success” means, but the general consensus is that they are anywhere from 85-97%. There are many factors that go into whether an implant will be successful such as the presence of bruxism (grinding of teeth), medical conditions (smoking, diabetes, immune status, osteoporosis), patient hygiene/compliance and the location of the implant (anterior vs. posterior/ maxilla vs. mandible). Drs. Hall and Sy will review all of these with you during your consultation visit.

How long do dental implants last?

In our office, we have implants that were placed about 30 years ago that are still in excellent condition today. However, the longevity of implants varies due to many factors (medical history, smoking status, hygiene, grinding, etc). Numerous studies have shown that most implants, when properly maintained, can last for many years. But there are also many factors that play into the longevity of the implant such as those outlined above. We will discuss all of this during your consultation.

What are the alternatives to dental implants?

If you want to replace a single tooth, a tooth born bridge can be done. What this means is that the two teeth adjacent to the missing tooth are cut down before a multiple unit bridge is fabricated to fit over the top. The biggest disadvantage of this option is the cutting down of natural tooth structure on the adjacent teeth. The protective outer shell covering your teeth (called enamel) is the hardest structure in your body. This irreversible process of removing the enamel is required in order to place a bridge. In addition, on average, a well-maintained bridge may last anywhere from 8-12 years which is far less than the average longevity of an implant. Many bridges fail because of the recurrent decay underneath the crowns of the adjacent teeth.

Can I get implants and a tooth attached to it in one day?

Yes, this is possible. However, there are many studies that have shown that there may be an increased risk of failure with this method. You will have to weigh the risks vs. the benefits of this option compared to the conventional method. Drs. Hall and Sy will help you choose what’s best for you during your consultation visit.

Is getting implants done painful?

The surgical procedure is relatively simple and in most cases, done in a very short time. There is little or no pain associated with the procedure and only minimal pain after the procedure. For the most part, it is no more invasive than having a tooth extracted with a very similar post-operative course.

Do I have to be put to sleep to have implants done?

No. Most implants are done very safely under local anesthesia alone or in combination with nitrous oxide and/or oral sedation. However, if you have severe anxiety, we have many options to make you comfortable including general anesthesia if you need it.