About Dental Implants: Surgery, Advantages, and Cost
Every year, dental treatment options seemingly take another technological leap forward. Americans have never had more information, knowledge, experience, and technology at their disposal to prevent tooth loss.
However, despite this there are still millions of Americans each year who (mainly through decay or gum disease) lose teeth. In the past when this happened, patients were only offered two treatment options: bridges or dentures. Luckily, today there is a third treatment option available – dental implants.
While they have been around for a while, dental implants are still a reasonably new treatment option that dentists can offer their patients. When they were first introduced to the world, they were seen as revolutionary. The ability to recreate and replace teeth with permanent implants (that are indistinguishable from the real thing), changed the face of dentistry overnight.
Dr. Choi is a board-certified surgeon, and as such he is able to offer his patients some of the highest quality dental implants in the state of Texas. For the convenience of his current and future patients, we have compiled this comprehensive and impartial guide.
Below you will find a detailed overview of what dental implants are, how they work, their pros and cons, and answers to many frequently asked questions.
What Are Dental Implants, And How Do They Work?
There are two main parts to dental implants, the implant itself and the replacement tooth. The implant is a small titanium screw-like object that is designed to secure itself in the bone socket of the missing tooth. Once the implant has been placed and your body has healed, then a permanent synthetic replacement tooth will be attached to it (through the use of a device called an abutment).
This may be a little difficult to visualize for some people, to help we have outlined a rough guide to the steps involved in the treatment below. We would like to point out that this section is to be seen as a general overview only. If you decide to inquire with Dr. Choi about implants, he will talk you through each step of the process (in detail) personally. He is available for a no pressure chat at 214-592-0692.
The first step of the process is a consultation. It is important for Dr. Choi to ascertain the current state of your oral health. A full dental examination will take place where an assessment will be made. Dr. Choi will then provide his recommendations for your potential treatment options. If you and Dr. Choi are both happy that the best way to proceed is through one or more dental implants, then the treatment can begin.
The first stage of the process is the installation of the titanium implants themselves. Under anesthetic, Dr. Choi will make a small incision into the gum to access the bone socket of the missing tooth. The titanium screw-like device will be attached securely and aligned perfectly. This is important to ensure an excellent fit when the replacement tooth is fitted.
The next part of the process is the healing stage. This is arguably the most important part of the whole procedure and can take anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks. During this time the bodies natural healing processes will enable the jawbone to regrow around the titanium implant. This effectively fuses it in place as part of your body. This is what provides the extreme stability and reliability of dental implants.
Once the healing process has been completed to Dr. Choi’s satisfaction, the next part of the process can begin. During this phase, a connector called an abutment is attached to the implant. The small but essential abutment is the object that helps your new tooth secure itself to the implant.
Once the abutment has been attached, it is time for Dr. Choi to start taking measurements of your mouth to enable your new tooth to be crafted. He will take molds and impressions of your teeth, and he will carefully model your current bite pattern. This accurate tried and tested process allows for the creation of a custom replacement tooth (or teeth), that will literally fit perfectly in your mouth.
Once the replacement tooth has been created, it will then be color-matched to your existing teeth. This is one of the most impressive parts of the process for many people. Color-matching technology and processes are extremely precise. There will not be any obvious difference between your new tooth and any existing ones.
When the tooth is ready, it is then attached to the abutment (which is attached to the implant) and the process is finished. At this point, you have a new tooth in your mouth that seamlessly blends in, and is as strong as (or stronger) than your other existing teeth.
What Are The Alternatives To Dental Implants?
To fully understand the benefits of dental implants (and the huge improvements they can provide) it’s prudent for us to take a look at the other traditional treatment options. These treatment methods are still available for those that require them. But they are now sub-optimal options in the vast majority of cases.
For patients who still had several healthy teeth remaining in their mouths, dental bridges were the most common treatment option recommended by dentists. If extreme tooth loss had taken place, bridges were no longer an option and dentures were required. As such this section will mainly focus on bridges as the main alternative treatment option.
As the name suggests, dental bridges are devices that are designed to quite literally bridge the gap between two healthy teeth that have a missing tooth in between them. Instead of being directly secured to the jawbone like dental implants, bridges are usually attached to the healthy teeth on either side of the gap (if possible).
This is usually done by contouring the two healthy teeth to enable them to have crowns placed upon them. A mold of your mouth and bite will be taken. This is done in a similar manner to that which we described for dental implants above. A dental lab will construct the bridge. The bridge is a single piece and consists of two crowns for your healthy teeth and a replacement for the missing tooth. The crowns are then attached to your healthy teeth, and the process is complete.
Why Are Dental Implants Better Than Bridges?
For a long time, bridges were seen as the pinnacle of dental technology. We all owe them a debt of gratitude as they performed their job excellently for their time. They gave many people the freedom to eat and smile with confidence.
That is still true today, and if dental bridges are your only option, then they are a perfectly reasonable choice. However, there are numerous significant improvements that dental implants make upon bridges that should not be overlooked. Again this section should be seen as an overview only. Dr. Choi will discuss the pros and cons of bridges vs implants with you personally.
Bridges Can Harm Healthy Teeth
One of the main issues with bridges is that they usually require your healthy teeth (located on either side of the gap) to be “contoured”. This essentially means that two perfectly healthy teeth will have their enamel drilled off of them to allow the bridge to attach securely. Without enamel, the protection that these teeth have relied upon their entire lives has been intentionally removed. This exposes a soft inner part of the tooth, made up of a material called the dentin.
At first, this is not a problem because the dentin is securely protected by the crowns that form the anchoring parts of most dental bridges. However, over time the strong dental cement that is used to secure the bridge in place will degrade. This is an almost inevitable consequence, and when it happens the perfect seal is broken (and bacteria can start to enter).
This results in decay underneath the bridge, and can result in it failing. This can even lead to root canal treatment being required if the bacteria reach the nerves.
(Remember that this is all happening to two teeth that were perfectly healthy, and were used to support the bridge).
If the bridge fails because of decay, then the two previously healthy teeth may be too damaged to support a replacement bridge. As such, another adjacent healthy tooth may need to be contoured to support a new, larger replacement bridge. This is a less than ideal situation because of the loads involved.
The original bridge was spreading out the load placed on the one missing tooth over two healthy ones. Teeth are strong, and this is not usually a problem. However, after a bridge failure, the two original healthy teeth may now need a dental bridge themselves because of decay.
This means the new bridge will be supporting the load of three missing teeth, which is much more stressful for the 2 supporting ones. Over time, this can result in further degradation and further tooth loss.
Dental Implants Are More Durable
Dental implants are incredibly durable. In most cases, dental implants will last you a lifetime. The titanium that is used for the implant has been chosen because of a special property the metal has. It undergoes a process called Osseointegration.
This essentially means that the titanium and your jawbone fuse into one single entity. The titanium essentially becomes a part of your body for all intents and purposes. (Additionally, titanium is well known for its strength and durability, which means it is resistant to decay).
To put this into perspective, a dental bridge will last on average for around 10 years. But a dental implant will last you a lifetime (in most cases).
Implants Can Often Look Better
While the difference can be reasonably small, dental implants often look better than bridges. Some of the best bridges designed by the best dental labs in the world are quite honestly comparable to implants. But even the best bridges are still a little less natural looking than “average” implants.
If the bridges are going to be placed at the sides or rear of your mouth, this is probably going to be of little consequence. But if you are needing a replacement for a prominent tooth at the front, an implant will look better.
What Are The Downsides To Dental Implants?
The most obvious downside to dental implants that many people are concerned about is the cost. There is no denying that the initial upfront cost of a dental implant is significantly higher than the cost of bridges. They are a premium treatment option, with real world benefits, and as such, they have a premium price tag.
However, the economic advantages of bridges are often not as substantial as they may seem at first. As we mentioned in the section above, bridges often only last around 10 years before they need to be replaced. The cost of 2 or 3 bridge replacements can easily surpass the cost of a single dental implant (which will last you a lifetime).
Simply put, the upfront cost of a dental implant is higher. But over the long term, they are often economically superior options compared to bridges.
North Texas Dental Surgery is currently offering a special: $1,500 for a single dental implant. Request a consultation today to lock in this low price.
Why Is Choosing the Right Dental Surgeon Important?
Dental implants are at the cutting edge of dental technology. They are one of the most advanced and complex procedures that a dentist can perform. Ensuring you choose the right surgeon is as important as brushing your teeth.
This is true for two main reasons. The invasive nature of dental implants means that while the procedure is painless, it can be uncomfortable. A patient will experience a lot of pulling, pushing, pressure, and drilling in and around their mouth. A highly skilled dental surgeon will be able to perform the procedure with speed and efficiency, minimizing your discomfort.
Dr. Choi is a board-certified surgeon. He has extensive experience in placing dental implants quickly, comfortably, and painlessly (in a calm and relaxed atmosphere).
The next reason for choosing your surgeon wisely is reasonably shocking to learn about. A small number of dentists that offer dental implants are driven by greed and financial gain (instead of their patient’s best interests). There are regular anecdotal reports of patients being pressured into having several of their healthy teeth removed and replaced by implants (when in reality it’s totally unnecessary).
This is an abuse of trust since most people believe they can trust their dentist. Most people recognize that their years of training and expertise puts dentists in the best position to make recommendations. Abuses like this for financial gain are disgusting.
This is admittedly a very rare occurrence, and the vast majority of dental surgeons in the USA are honorable, trustworthy people.
Dr. Choi abhors this detestable practice of putting profit before patients. He has never, and will never make a treatment recommendation to a patient that is not entirely based on their best interests.
Dental Implants – Frequently Asked Questions
Do Dental Implants Hurt?
The most common concern many people have about dental implants is the potential for pain and discomfort. After learning about how the treatment works, it’s obvious that it’s a reasonably invasive procedure which can cause anxiety.
During the actual procedure itself, the patient will feel no pain as local anesthetic is used throughout. For most people, the most uncomfortable part of the entire procedure is the small pin prick they feel when the anesthetic is administered (which is momentary and mild). It takes around 15 minutes or so to actually insert the implant, during which time patients will feel some pushing and pulling, and experience vibrations from the drilling required.
However, this is entirely painless thanks to the anesthetic. Dr. Choi will double check that you are sufficiently numb before starting any of the invasive parts of the procedure to allow you to be as relaxed as possible.
This being said, patients can expect to feel some discomfort during the days immediately after the implants have been inserted. Slight swelling and a little bleeding from the gums is perfectly normal. Depending upon the amount and location of implants being inserted, patients may also feel a slight pain in the cheeks and under the eyes.
The level of discomfort experienced differs from person to person, but it is almost always more than bearable. Mild pain medicine like Ibuprofen, and the regular application of ice packs can dramatically reduce the discomfort. For most people, the discomfort will subside after 3 to 5 days.
(Note: When the abutment and replacement tooth are finally fitted there is no discomfort after the procedure. The discomfort above only applies to the initial insertion of the titanium implants.)
Can Everyone Have Dental Implants?
The vast majority of patients that require dental implants are eligible for the procedure. The main determining factor is the strength of the jawbone in a patient’s mouth. In some cases, the dentist may need to perform a gum or bone graft to ensure the highest chance of success. (Although in the vast majority of cases, this is not required).
Will My Insurance Cover Dental Implants?
This entirely depends upon the kind of coverage your current policy provides. It is rare for the entire cost of the procedure to be covered by an insurer. However, most insurance policies will cover at least part of the treatment. This makes the whole procedure much more affordable for many people.
As always, we highly recommend you check the level of coverage your insurance company provides before undergoing any treatment. Dr. Choi provides his patients with some of the most competitive rates in the whole state. He prides himself on ensuring that as many people as possible can enjoy a happier, brighter, stronger smile.
Do Dental Implants Decay?
Dental implants are made from very strong materials and represent the pinnacle of dental technology. The implants themselves are made from titanium which does not rust, degrade, or decay in any way shape or form. They really are going to last you a lifetime.
However, just because dental implants don’t decay does not mean you can escape the need for a comprehensive dental hygiene routine. The implants themselves are near indestructible, but your gums are not. For your implants to stay happy and healthy in your mouth, you need to take very good care of your gums. Regular brushing, flossing, and mouth washing are essential.
What Is The Success Rate Of Dental Implants?
The success rate of dental implants varies from surgeon to surgeon, but on average they are usually very successful. This is because that in the vast majority of cases it is easy to spot the signs that would lead to failure before the treatment is started.
It is extremely rare for implants to fail when the go-ahead has been given for treatment. In these rare instances, failure usually occurs because of an unusual allergy to titanium, or a poor dental hygiene routine after treatment.
This further proves the point that taking care of your implants is as important as taking care of your real teeth.
This concludes our comprehensive overview of dental implants. As we are sure you will agree by now, they are truly a wonderful solution to our nation’s ever present tooth loss issue. They have a larger upfront cost than bridges, but over the long term – they make more economic sense.
Dr. Choi provides some of the most competitive rates in the state and has extensive experience in dealing with dental implants. His patients regularly commend him and his team on their calming, professional, caring attitude and the efficiency of their procedures.
We know that going to the dentist is not going to be a fun experience for most people. But Dr. Choi and his team do their very best to make it as pleasant (and efficient) as possible.
If you are suffering from tooth loss and are considering dental implants, why not give Dr. Choi and his team a call today at 214-592-0692 for a quick, no pressure chat.