Key Facts About Dental Implants

A missing tooth has a negative impact on the appearance of your smile and can make you self-conscious. But being short one or more teeth isn’t just a cosmetic issue. Missing teeth can impact your speech and influence the foods you eat. Relying more on your remaining teeth can damage them and may lead to headaches and/or jaw pain. Most worrisome, when teeth are missing, the bone supporting them begins to deteriorate, weakening the jaw’s structure. The more time that passes, the more difficult it can be to replace lost bone.

Fortunately, dental implants act just like natural teeth and can prevent the negative consequences of tooth loss. An implant can replace a single tooth or a group of teeth. Here’s what you need to know.

Benefits

One key benefit to dental implants is the absence of the drawbacks that come with the alternatives, dental bridges and full dentures. Unlike dental bridges, dental implants don’t damage the structure of teeth surrounding the bridge. Bridges and full dentures have other disadvantages, too. They can slip out of place, causing discomfort and embarrassment. Many people find them uncomfortable and don’t like having to remove them at night. Dental implants, on the other hand, are a permanent solution. They need no more care than you give your other teeth: regular brushing and flossing. Dental implants usually last for decades and improve oral health as well as personal confidence and comfort.

Timeline

The total length of time from initial consultation to completed implant varies by patient. For example, someone who first needs a tooth extracted will have to wait for the impacted area of the jaw and gums to heal before starting the implant process. A bone graft, if needed, will also lengthen the process. After implants are placed, it takes between three and six months for them to fully bond with the bone and become a natural part of the jaw. Once that step is complete, an abutment is placed—this is what the final tooth will be attached to. One to two weeks later, the final restoration (artificial tooth) will be bonded to the abutment. Bottom line: Once any work that needs to be done to prepare for an implant is complete and has healed, the time from implant placement to final tooth restoration ranges from about four to seven months.  

Costs  

Before treatment begins, every effort will be made to give you an accurate estimate of the total cost, which will include your initial diagnostic work-up, the abutment or support posts and their placement, the crown that will be placed over the implants and any temporary restorations that you may need during the months your implant is fusing with the bone in your jaw. Some parts of the treatment will be done by your oral surgeon and some by your general dentist, so you’ll receive a separate bill from each. If you have insurance, the Center for Oral Surgery & Dental Implants will help you determine what it will cover. If you don’t, or if you need help paying the share of the cost that insurance doesn’t cover, we offer two third-party payment programs: LendingClub and CareCredit. Read more about our payment options.

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