If you have been thinking about dentures – or are only missing one or two teeth because of an accident – consider a dental implant. Although the cost of dental implants may seem expensive, it is a one-time procedure that when properly done and maintained with good oral hygiene, can last a lifetime.
Dental Implant Surgery: Ideal Candidates
Dentist implants have come a long way in the past fifty years. Back in the day, implants looked decidedly artificial; they were made of metal and the technique was complicated and none too comfortable for the patient. Today, implants look almost identical to natural teeth and are held in place with an actual artificial root like the real thing. In addition, implants are also used to support crowns, bridges and even dentures.
Before surgery can be undertaken however, your dentist will have to determine your suitability. If you use tobacco in any form or take anti-rejection drugs for a transplanted organ, you will not be a good candidate for an implant. Another contraindication is gum disease; those who have had periodontal disease usually cannot have implants.
If you suffer from Type II (adult onset) diabetes, you’ll have to get your condition under tight control before you can have implant surgery. Likewise, if you are taking what are known as bisphosophate drugs for osteoporosis or cancer, you may have to stop taking them for several months.
What Implant Dentists Do
The basic procedure is begun by drilling a hole for the titanium screw that will hold your artificial tooth in place. This must be done in stages in order to avoid permanent injury to bone tissue. Usually, between three and seven drills of graduated size are used. In addition, the site of the operation is kept cool with a continuous spray of water; otherwise, the bone tissue could overheat and die (osteonecrosis).
Once this screw is in place, some time is required to allow the bone to grow back and adhere to the screw; this period is different for every patient and situation, and can be anywhere from two weeks to over three months. Your dentist will need to determine how long it will take.
At a future date, once the implant screw has “set,” you will return to have the actual prosthesis set in place.
Some patients may be able to undergo a single-stage procedure. This is called immediate loading; however, some type of cover or crown will need to be set in place while the bone grafts onto the implant.
Dental Implants: Prices
Like the procedure itself, costs associated with implant surgery can vary a great deal. While these costs can vary by region of the country and brand of implant used (there are several different manufacturers of implants), they can vary from one patient to another, depending on the complexity of the surgery and what tooth is being replaced. In general however, a single implant can run from one to three thousand dollars. Since implants are not covered by most dental insurance, you will need to arrange financing through your dentist’s business office.