What is a dental implant?
An implant is an artificial tooth root, a cylinder of titanium usually less than half an inch long, which is placed in the jaws. Dental implants were developed in Sweden in the mid 1960’s and are used as supports to permanently attach from one to a full set of replacement teeth.
What is an implant made of ?
Implants can be made of pure titanium or a titanium alloy which makes the implant stronger. They can also be made of Zirconium, a ceramic material. Titanium has been used for over 50 years and has an impeccable track record in terms of biologic compatibility. Zirconium is relatively new and is less proven.
How much do dental implants cost?
The cost of an “implant” is broken into three parts: the cost of surgical placement, the cost of the implant parts (abutments) and the crown or denture.
The costs can be varied depending on the number of implants (more implants, less fee per implant) and the type of material used in the final restoration (porcelain, plastic or composite). Generally, more experienced surgeons and prosthodontists (with 3+ years of graduate training) will charge more than someone with limited experience (a weekend course). There is also a wide range of costs associated with an implant reconstruction.
What makes a quality dental Implant?
High quality implants cost more than knock off or clone type implants. Also, the reconstruction can be made cheaply, by sending them products made outside of the United States, or using cheap materials, or they can be made locally by skilled laboratory technicians. Therefore, as in any medical procedure, the skill of your dental team is a vital part in the success of your final implant restoration. You are not buying a product, a TV, you are buying a service and the skill and expertise of your dental professionals and the quality of the parts used are important to the long term success of your treatment.
Why would I need dental implants?
The longer you are missing a tooth or teeth the more the bone and gum ridges shrink. This is called atrophy. If the body is not using a part, in this case the bone that holds the teeth, then it takes the calcium and puts it somewhere else where it’s needed. Implants are placed in the bone and fool the body into thinking there’s a tooth so bone atrophy stops.
How Long do Implants last?
Implants have a mid to high 90’s percentage rate of success after they have integrated. The majority of implant failures occur in the first three months (before integration) if the bone does not heal properly around the implant. Generally the failures after 3 months are more of a random event and difficult to predict. Poor home care, a history of gum disease and uncontrolled diabetes tends to increase the risk of long term failure. The restorative materials, porcelain or acrylic, will fail over time just like a normal crown or denture will fail over time without implants. The restorative materials should last 10 or more years if properly maintained.
Advantages Over Dentures or Bridges
Conventional bridges and dentures are not fixed to the bone, and can therefore be unstable. This can make it difficult to eat or smile with confidence. Implants not only look more natural, but feel and act more like normal teeth, with a stronger biting force. And because they don't directly rely on neighboring teeth for support, implants don't compromise the health of your natural teeth. In fact, bridges are only expected to last seven to ten years, even less with root canals, whereas implants will typically last a lifetime.