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Missing teeth can make it difficult for you to eat the foods you love or cause you to feel self-conscious about the way you look when you smile and talk to others. Over time, missing teeth can also lead to bone loss and misalignment of the remaining teeth. Fortunately, there are options available for replacing lost teeth. Options like dentures and dental bridges can fill the gaps and allow you to regain some function. However, these options are removable and require some special care to remain in good working order. If you are looking for a more permanent solution for missing teeth, consider dental implants.

What Are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are a permanent solution to tooth loss. The most common type of tooth implant is when a dentist places a post or screw in the bone of your jaw and an artificial replacement tooth that sits on the surface of your gums. This new post in your jawbone acts as a root for your new tooth. Over time, the implant and your bone fuse together to create a strong foundation for your new tooth. This process improves the stability of your replacement tooth and helps prevent further deterioration of your jawbone.

Dental implant surgery is a multi-step process that requires collaboration between you and your dentist. Once the dental implant procedure is complete and the area is healed, the artificial tooth will be like one of your natural teeth. Dental implants can restore the function and look that you lost when you lost your natural tooth.

Why Would You Need A Dental Implant? 

Dental implants can replace missing or severely damaged teeth. Dental implants can also make it possible to eat again and feel confident about your smile usually. People lose permanent teeth for a wide range of reasons, including: 

  • Injury to your teeth from a fall, car accident, or some other type of trauma;
  • Decay because of poor dental hygiene;
  • Genetics;
  • Illness. 

Dental implants are not always an option. For example, suppose the bone of your jaw has seriously deteriorated. In that case, it may not be possible to place a tooth implant. The condition of your gums can also impact whether you are a good candidate for dental implants. However, suppose your jawbone and gums are healthy. In that case, dental implants are a long-term and often permanent solution to replace missing teeth. 

What Are the Types Of Dental Implants? 

Dental implants have a long history. There is evidence that the Mayans used rudimentary dental implants as early as 600 AD. The technology and science of dental implants have improved since those early days. Still, the idea of replacing missing teeth with an artificial tooth to restore function remains the same. In modern dentistry, there are two main types of dental implants: endosteal and subperiosteal implants.

Endosteal

Endosteal dental implants include the type of implant outlined above. Endosteal implants involve placing an artificial root into the bone of your jaw. The implants look like screws and are typically made using titanium. This process allows the implant and your jaw to fuse and create a robust new root for your artificial tooth. A healthy jawbone and healthy gums are necessary for the successful placement of endosteal dental implants.

Subperiosteal

Subperiosteal dental implants are placed below the gum line but above the jawbone. This type of tooth implant does not go into the bone. Subperiosteal dental implants are an option for people who do not have enough healthy jawbone for an endosteal implant.

What to Expect During Your Dental Implant Procedure

The exact process of getting dental implants is different from patient to patient. At your first visit with your dentist, you will discuss your concerns surrounding your missing teeth and talk about treatment options. Suppose you and your dentist decide that implants are the best option. In that case, the next step is to determine if you will get endosteal or subperiosteal implants.

The dental implant procedure for endosteal implants requires two to three parts over several months. The first step in the endosteal implant procedure is to place the post into the bone. It would help if you waited for some time after the placement before undergoing the next part of the procedure.

In preparation for the next part of your procedure, your dentist will create a prosthetic tooth that matches your surrounding teeth in shape and color. Once the area heals adequately, your dentist will attach the artificial tooth to the post. Endosteal dental implant recovery will take some time, but the result is worth the wait. In addition, an endosteal dental implant procedure will leave you with a permanent tooth replacement option.

A subperiosteal dental implant procedure can be completed in fewer appointments than endosteal implants. Subperiosteal implants are less invasive than other implant options because they sit on top of the bone. You do not get the same level of stability with subperiosteal implants. However, they are still a practical option for replacing missing teeth. You and your dentist will work together to determine if subperiosteal implants are right for you. The procedure for placing subperiosteal implants can happen in as little as one appointment.

Are Dental Implants Painful?

There can be some pain involved with dental implants. However, the reality is that both types of dental implants involve surgery. During surgery, your oral surgeon or dentist will provide you with a level of sedation that helps you remain calm and free from pain. The level of sedation you need will depend on the type of implant you choose and the number of teeth you need to have replaced. Sedation dentistry is commonly used during dental implant surgeries because they can be long and complex. The result — a replacement tooth that can last you a lifetime — is typically worth the temporary discomfort of going through a lengthy dental procedure.

Cutting through your gums and drilling into your bone will cause you to experience some discomfort and possibly pain during recovery. However, as your gums heal, the pain will start to subside. Your dentist will provide you with suggestions for over-the-counter pain medication and may also prescribe more potent painkillers for the days immediately following the surgery. Once everything is healed, you will not experience pain or discomfort around the area where the implant was placed.

Dental Implant Risks And Complications

There are inherent risks with any dental surgery, but dental implant complications and dental implant risks are low. Research shows that more than 97% of dental implants are still functional after ten years. The high success rate of dental implants should be a comfort if you are considering dental implants to address tooth loss. 

There is always a possibility for complications during surgery or infection afterward. Please talk with your dentist about the potential dental implant risks so you can measure them against the benefits of choosing a permanent tooth replacement option.

Dental Implant Cost 

Dental implant cost is a factor that can impact your decision to get dental implants. Tooth implant costs will vary from dentist to dentist and place to place. The type of dental implant you choose, your gums and jawbone condition, and the number of teeth you are missing will all impact tooth implant costs. The good news is that dental insurance often covers some of the costs associated with getting dental implants. In addition, dentists who provide implant services typically have payment plan options that allow you to pay the remainder of the dental implant cost over time.

Find A Dental Implants Specialist Near You

Who does dental implants? Endodontists, periodontists, oral surgeons, and some general dentists offer dental implant services. Factors such as the condition of your jawbone, the health of your gums, and the complexity of your oral health will all impact what type of dentist you should choose to place your implants. If you're asking yourself where to find a trusted dentist near me, you can find any dentist you need — endodontist, periodontist, oral surgeon, or general dentist — through The Smile Generation's Find a Dentist tool.