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Dental Implants 101 - Everything You Need to Know

Your smile is one of the first things that people will notice about you. So missing or damaged teeth can seriously affect that first impression. Fortunately, that’s something you can fix with dental implants.

Whether for cosmetic or functional purposes, dental implants come out on top as the best replacement for natural teeth. Want to learn more on the truth about dental implants? Here’s everything you need to know.

What Are Dental Implants?

From the name itself, dental implants are an appliance made to look like real teeth. Most of them are fashioned from titanium to provide lasting performance and durability.

The implant itself attaches to your jaw, the same way your natural tooth would take root under the gum line. This post will later on fuse to your jaw, allowing the implant to feel more natural than any other type of dental replacement.

Dental Implant Procedure

As with any other dental procedure, the first step of the dental implant process requires an in-depth patient assessment. During this time, your dentist will collect information to determine your fitness for dental implants.

They also take the opportunity to learn more about any potential conditions you might have that they will have to consider during the procedure. This just ensures a safe and problem-free implant process.

After the assessment, your dentist will take scans and x-rays of your teeth. These imaging tests provide the blueprint so to speak, so you dentist can properly plot out the specifics for your implants.

The pieces of your implant are carefully designed to perfectly fit your gum and jaw. The crown itself is painstakingly fashioned to create a natural yet upgraded look that matches the rest of your teeth.

While most patients are put to sleep for the procedure, there are others who might do just fine with a local anesthetic. This is especially true for procedures that call for no more than one or two implants, or for mini dental implants.

During the procedure, the dentist implants the titanium post underneath your gum line and into your jaw. This is then allowed to heal, so your oral surgeon may place a temporary denture for aesthetic purposes.

The healing process can take several weeks or months. The purpose of this waiting period is to allow the bone and the implant to fuse through a process called osseointegration. Once that’s completed, your dentist will then install the abutment.

This part works like a screw and serves the purpose of an interface between the post and the actual crown. To place the abutment, the gum is reopened, the piece is screwed in place, and then the gums are closed around the newly installed abutment.

And then of course, there’s the crown itself. This part is screwed into the abutment to complete the procedure. With time, your new implant should start to feel more natural as the post fuses with your jaw and further stabilizes the crown as you chew.

What Are the Benefits of Dental Implants?

There are lots of reasons why dental implants are recognized as the most optimal dental replacement available today:

  • Natural - Of course, the biggest benefit of dental implants is that they look and feel more natural than any other replacement. They’re designed to perform the same way an actual tooth does by fusing to your jaw bone.

Thus, they tend to feel exactly like a real tooth. They also don’t have a false gum line like dentures do, which makes them look more natural.

  • Bone loss prevention - Your teeth anchor to your jaw and support bone health. But when they fall out, your jaw bone may recede. That’s why people who use dentures may have to get new ones over time as their jaws change shape and lose density. This may also affect face shape and appearance.

Some studies have found that implants may actually prevent bone loss. By connecting to the bone, they keep the surrounding bones strong and dense.

  • Easy maintenance - Dentures can be a chore to care for. Allowing food particles and other contaminants to squeeze into spaces, dentures call for routine cleaning that may take up significant time.

On the other hand, implants won’t require any changes to your oral care routine. You can floss them and brush them the same way you would regular teeth.

  • Stability - Although a bridge or a denture might be able to cover for a missing tooth, they don’t support adjacent teeth. This could lead to teeth moving over to the empty space as time wears on, changing their alignment.

An implant prevents teeth from shifting into an existing gap by filling up the space. This is unlike dentures or bridges that simply cover the gap without anchoring against other teeth in the gum line.

  • Long lasting - While they might be more expensive than other forms of dental replacements, implants can easily last a lifetime. Aside from your routine dental checkup, there’s no need to revisit the dentist to maintain or replace implants after they’re installed unless they’ve been damaged.

  • Durable -And of course, dental implants are durable. Unlike other replacements that can crack and break, implants are much stronger because the pressure is directed to the bone instead of on the tooth replacement itself.

What Is the Downside of Dental Implants?

Although they can be supremely beneficial, dental implants aren’t without a few downsides. Some of these include:

  • Cost - Dental implants can be significantly more expensive than other forms of restoration. However, because they tend to last longer, their prices are well justified.

  • Lengthy process - The whole procedure can take several months to complete, so they may not be idea for someone who needs a more immediate solution to their dental problem.

  • Additional procedures - If you don’t have enough bone to support your implant, you may need to get an additional procedure called a bone graft. This entails placing a piece of bone in the jaw to improve density, which may take more time to heal before you can get the implant installed.

  • Infections - These are a possibility with any kind of surgical procedure. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re dealing with a trusted dental clinic that offers quality service.

Types of Dental Implants

When talking about the types of implants, people usually pertain to the materials used for the process. In general, the post itself is almost always made from titanium. This lightweight material provides maximum durability for long term performance and is the material of choice for the best dental implant brands.

However, there are more and more dental clinics that offer ceramic implants. They’re typically fashioned as a single piece, so they require more precision for proper installation. These are recommended for those who might be sensitive to metals.

The crown itself can be made from ceramic or porcelain. For back molars that are out of sight, your dentist may recommend metal crowns that improve durability for grinding and chewing food. Keep in mind that crowns may be damaged with wear and tear, but replacing them shouldn’t be too hard.

Dental Implants - Frequently Asked Questions

Find out more about dental implants and whether they’re the right choice for you with this list of the most commonly asked questions about dental implants:

Are you put to sleep for dental implants?

Yes, your doctor may put you to sleep for dental implants since the procedure may be quite invasive. But ultimately, they decide on anesthesia on a case-to-case basis. Some clients who require mini dental implants, or just one or two implants may opt for local anesthetic instead.

However, in case a client is particularly nervous or anxious or if full mouth dental implants are required, the dentist may choose to provide a general anesthetic instead. This helps keep the client more relaxed and steadier for the delicate procedure.

How painful is getting a dental implant?

Are dental implants painful? Well, the procedure itself will hardly be painful because clients are placed under anesthetic. However, that doesn’t mean recovery won’t be a little more than uncomfortable.

That said, your dental surgeon may provide you with over-the-counter pain medications to manage the soreness. Pain should peak between 3 to 5 days after the procedure and then subside. Within a week, most patients claim to feel nothing more than slight discomfort and tenderness.

Are dental implants covered by insurance?

Unfortunately, no, Canadian insurance will not cover the cost of dental implants. This is especially true if the cause of your procedure is not a medical risk. However, these days, most insurance companies are starting to change their policies.

That’s because more and more studies are showing the potential long-term effects of poor dental health and low-cost replacements and restorations. But there are limits. So, while they won’t pay for the whole procedure, they may be able to cover a fraction of the cost.

What do dental implants cost?

Prices vary from clinic to clinic. But the average cost of Toronto dental implants stands at around $1,600 each. However, some clinics can offer them for as little as $1,000, or up to $5,000 each for the best dental implants.

The best way to get an estimate would be to contact your trusted dental service provider. A consultation should be able to provide you a better idea of what your specific case entails and how much everything would cost.

How long does the procedure take?

Everyone heals differently, so the time frame for the dental implant procedure may be different for each person. If the tooth still needs to be removed, then that might add more to the waiting period as the gums and jaw bone are allowed to heal after tooth extraction.

Once the dental implant surgery is completed, your dental surgeon will have to wait another three to six months for the implant to fuse with the bone. Installing the abutment and crown prematurely may cause pressure on the bone and implant, thus causing damage and potential injury.

Do you have to visit the dentist after the implants are installed?

Yes, you will have to continue seeing your dentist one the procedure is complete. These routine visits are required even if you don’t have implants and help to keep your teeth properly cleaned.

As a rule of thumb, you should visit your dentist every six months for routine cleaning. But don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment if you notice any dental implants problems, feel any pain, or notice things like bleeding or signs of infection at the site of the implant.

How long will the implants last?

In theory, they should last a lifetime. With proper care and hygiene, you shouldn’t expect to run into any problems with your implants. However, the crown itself isn’t impervious to damage.

Since the crown is typically made of ceramic or porcelain, it is possible to crack or break them. In that case, you will have to get them replaced. But since you already have the implant in place, it’s only a matter of getting a new crown fashioned and then screwing it in place.

Why are implants so expensive?

Aside from the fact that they can virtually last a lifetime, implants are also designed on a case-to-case basis. That means the implants, abutment, and crowns used for your case are completely different in size and shape from anyone else’s.

Surgeons and restorative dentists work together to plan and customize every step of the procedure. And the surgery itself requires skilled precision that not all dentists are capable of. All things considered, it’s easy to see how dental implant cost can be so steep.

Who can get implants?

Generally speaking, anyone who is healthy and fit for a dental surgery should be able to get dental implants. In the case of children, however, it’s necessary to wait for permanent teeth to emerge before implants become a consideration for whatever reason.

In fact, dentists recommend that adolescents be at least 16 years old for girls and 18 years old for boys before they’re considered eligible for implants. This just makes sure their teeth have reached proper maturity so as not to cause alignment issues down the line.

The Bottomline on Dental Implants

Although they might cost more than your typical replacement, dental implants provide a world’s worth of benefits that can maintain your oral health for years down the line. Bringing a natural look that feels just like the real deal, dental implants easily stand out as the top choice for restoration.

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