Dental implants are artificial teeth that replace damaged or missing teeth. Implants look and function like real teeth. Dental implant surgery is highly variable depending on the number of implants and condition of the jawbone. All surgery, however, occurs in stages and involves several procedures. Healing requires a significant amount of time, and the overall process can take several months.
Depending on the state of your jaw or individual tooth’s roots, bone grafting may be necessary, either of the jaw or at the roots of the tooth. Graft procedures should be done several months before dental implants in order to allow for successful engraftment.
After that, the implant is placed into the socket and allowed to integrate with the natural bone around it (osseointegration). This process takes several months. When osseointegration is complete, an abutment, or stabilizing connector piece, is added in a short outpatient procedure. After one to two weeks, artificial teeth can be placed on top of the abutment.
Who is a candidate?
Patients who have lost one or more teeth are candidates for dental implants. Candidates should be in good overall health, with sufficient jaw structure upon which to anchor the implants.
Who is not a candidate?
Some conditions and diseases can affect whether dental implants are right for you. Uncontrolled diabetes, cancer, radiation to the jaws, smoking, alcoholism or uncontrolled gum disease may affect the success of dental implants.
An initial visit to a dentist is usually required in order to have X-rays taken and assess the cost of the overall process. This preliminary exam is necessary to assess your particular situation. Disclose all medications you are currently taking to your dentist, as certain medications, such as blood thinners, may interfere with the recovery process. Otherwise, continue taking all medications as prescribed by your physician. As dental implants are a multi-step process, there are multiple steps that must occur in order for the dental implants to be completed.
Dental implant surgery carries the same risk of typical discomforts from dental surgery, such as swelling, bruising, pain and minor bleeding. You may need pain reliever medications or antibiotics to combat pain and infection. At each stage of surgery, you may need to avoid hard or crunchy foods while the site heals, for up to 14 days. Stitches may need to be removed a week and a half after surgery, or self-dissolving stitches may be used.
As with any surgery, dental implant surgery can pose some health risk. However, dental implants are generally safe, and complications tend to be minor and easily treatable. Risks include infection at the implant site, injury or damage to surrounding structures, nerve damage, and sinus problems (which can cause pain, numbness or tingling in your natural teeth, gums, lips or chin).
If intravenous sedation is chosen over only a local anesthetic, the risk of full mouth reconstruction increases. Amnesia, oversedation, and temporary problems with breathing are common risks involved with intravenous sedation. However, these are not life threatening and can usually be resolved by the dentist or other healthcare providers at the time of occurrence.
Average US cost
$1,000-$4,000+ (varies depending on number of teeth and material of crowns)