Dental implants are titanium screws that are embedded into the jaw bone to replicate tooth roots. Once embedded, they fuse with the surrounding bone tissue to create a strong foundation that can support a dental prosthetic such as a crown, bridge, or dentures. In providing such a strong base to mount a dental prosthetic, dental implants can effectively restore lost function while restoring lost teeth.
Dental implants are made up of three main components:
- The implant: This is a titanium screw that is drilled into the jawbone and will fuse with the surrounding bone to create the foundation for the prosthetic.
- The abutment: This is the connector piece that holds the dental prosthetic into the implant.
- The dental prosthetic: This is the dental prosthetic that is attached to the implant via the abutment and is actually seen above the gum line.
Did You Know?
Dental implants can keep your mouth healthier than other restoration methods and are beneficial to your overall oral health. They allow for easier and more thorough cleaning, which decreases the likelihood of oral problems developing from excessive bacterial growth.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How do dental implants work?
Dental implants work by replicating naturally occurring tooth roots. Just as natural tooth roots utilize the jaw bone for support and stability, dental implants do the same when embedded into the jaw. Once they heal, bone tissue grows around them and stabilizes them in place, much like a naturally occurring tooth root. From this point, an artificial tooth or teeth are then attached to this artificial root and are able to maintain almost the same chewing power as real teeth. Not to mention, they can fully restore speaking ability and the visual aesthetics of your smile.
Are dental implants right for me?
Dental implants may be right for you if you currently have damaged, decayed, or missing teeth and are looking for a restoration method that will offer you restored tooth function. To qualify for dental implants, you must also be in decent oral health and have adequate bone mass for the implants to properly function. To find out if dental implants are the right restoration method for you, schedule a consultation with one of our dentists at Bethesda Family Dentistry today!
What happens if I’m told I don’t have the proper bone mass to support an implant?
If you have missing teeth that have been missing for a while, a process called reabsorption may have occurred, causing you to lose bone mass in your jaw. This is rather common in individuals who have missing teeth and can be remedied through the use of a bone graft. Bone grafts transfer bone material from your own body (or from a specially manufactured mixture) to your future dental implant site. Once injected into the designated area, this bone material will eventually harden into real bone, restoring your bone mass and creating an area strong enough to safely support a dental implant. Sometimes bone grafts are performed at the same time the dental implants are placed. There also may be instances when bone grafts must be completed and healed prior to the implant placement. Be sure to speak with our dentists to determine which option is best for you.
What happens during the dental implant procedure?
During your dental implant placement, you will be kept comfortable with sedation and anesthetic. An incision will be made in your gums, and a series of specialized drills will be used to create a space for the implant. To avoid damage to the surrounding bone, drilling will start with a small drill bit that gets slightly larger to widen the hole. Then, the titanium screw of the dental implant will be placed into this hole. Depending on your treatment plan, the abutment may also be attached to the implant. Finally, your gums will be sutured and you will be able to return home the same day.
After the implant has been placed, your bones will go through a process called osseointegration to gradually fuse themselves around the implant. This process is essential to anchor the implant into the jawbone and provide the necessary support and strength. Osseointegration generally takes about 3-6 months, however it can also take longer.
Once osseointegration has occurred and the implant has fused to the surrounding bone, then the dental prosthetic can be attached. If not already attached, there may need to be a small surgery to attach the abutment prior to attaching the dental prosthetic. Once the prosthetic has been attached, the dental implant process is complete and your smile is restored!
How long will my dental implants last?
Although dental implants are the longest-lasting restoration method available, the length of their lifespan can be varied. Different factors such as oral health habits, whether or not you smoke, and the type of implant can all affect their lifespan. Usually, dental implants have the ability to last at least ten years and some have even lasted longer than that. However, there are also instances were they may need to be replaced sooner, such as if too much force has been exerted on them or if they become loose. To replace your dental implant, our dentists will remove the old implant and place another within the same procedure.
Can dental implants fail?
As with any dental treatment, there is always the chance that dental implants could fail. The failure rate of dental implant failure is extremely low, however, and most individuals experience successful outcomes. Some possible reasons a dental implant could fail include too much movement after the placement, infection, and an inability of the implant to properly fuse to the bone.
How much do dental implants cost?
The exact cost of your dental implants will depend on a number of factors. Things such as the extent of treatment, type of implant, and type of dental prosthetic used will all affect the overall cost. A general price for dental implants can range from $3,000-$4,500 for a single tooth, however this can vary. While this cost may seem high, keep in mind that dental implants require significantly less maintenance and replacements compared to other restoration methods. Also if you have dental insurance, you may be able to either receive partial coverage or an allowance to help pay for dental implants.
For a qualified, experienced, and caring approach to dental implants, schedule a consultation with one of our dentists at either our Fernwood Bethesda Family Dentistry office in Bethesda or our Executive Bethesda Family Dentistry office in North Bethesda.