Missing teeth make eating more difficult and uncomfortable, which leads to a lower level of quality in nutrition for some people due to avoidance of certain foods. For others, missing teeth results in a drop of confidence resulting from an imperfect smile. Still, others may be at risk of poor oral health due to the missing tooth.
In any case, there is a list of reasons missing teeth are a cause for concern. Fortunately, there is a solution: dental implants. In this post, we will go over everything you need to know about dental implants.
What is a Dental Implant?
Think of dental implants as artificial roots for your new teeth. These roots, called abutments, are placed by a specialist into the areas where you want your teeth back. The tissue in the area will accept and bond with the new root to create a stable support structure. These abutments are made to last and will be withstanding a lot of strong pressures that your other teeth regularly go through.
The part that is placed on the abutment is called a crown, and it is custom-made for every patient to look and feel just like a natural tooth. Once the crown is attached, you will have a solid new surface to use in your mouth. By the end of the process, you will be walking away with a complete, natural-looking smile; no one will be able to tell the difference!
Types of Implants
Endosteal Implants vs Subperiosteal Implant
There are two types of dental implants available. One is called the endosteal implant and the other is the subperiosteal implant. Both have been extensively researched and have had great results.
Endosteal implants are the most commonly seen dental implants. These are one- or two-piece posts that are placed into the jawbone. The bone will bond with the posts to provide an artificial root for the new teeth. Endosteal implants have been the standard practice for dental implants and are proven to have consistent, long-lasting results, but this procedure is best for patients with a dense bone structure to support the implant.
What if my dentist tells me my jaws aren’t dense enough?
What if I don’t want my jawbones tampered with?
For both of these questions, subperiosteal implants may be recommended. In this procedure, the specialist will place a frame just under the gums in the areas a replacement tooth is desired. The custom-made frame will sit snugly against the bone of the patient and will be supported by both the bone and the gums that will grow around the posts where the new teeth will be attached. While subperiosteal implants produce great results as well, they are not as common as endosteal implants as they are more difficult to place and are not thought to be as long-lasting.
Single Tooth vs Full Mouth Dental Implant
With both endosteal and subperiosteal implants, there is the option of having single tooth implants or a full mouth implant. Single tooth implants will have individual abutments for each crown. This means that each tooth will have its own root. However, the cost rises with this method when more teeth are replaced.
When a large number of teeth need to be replaced, there is the all-on technique. This technique comes in different options such as all-on-four, all-on-six, or all-on-eight. The number indicates the number of abutments that will be used when replacing a full set of teeth. With this technique, the entire set of replacement teeth are mounted onto the number of implanted posts specified by its name. The more posts there are, the more stable the replacement teeth are, but also the more expensive the procedure.
Dental Implant Material
Modern dental implants as they are known today were found in the 1950s by a Swedish professor named Per-Ingvar Brånemark. During his research, he found that titanium devices that were anchored to bone were impossible to remove. This prompted clinical research and led to their presence in the dental world today.
Because of Brånemark, titanium is a tried and trusted material for dental implants and is the most common material used in the procedure. The bond titanium creates with bone material is strong and durable, allowing it to withstand the forces that come with chewing. The costs of this material are reasonable and have a high success rate of integration with the human body. Titanium implants are made in two pieces, with one piece being implanted and the other screwing into the implant and providing a place for the replacement tooth to sit.
Another, newer material can also be used in dental implants: zirconia. This material is non-metallic, meaning there are no magnetic or electrical influences on the body due to its low conductivity. Zirconia is the recommended alternative for patients with titanium allergies and is more pleasing to the naked eye than titanium. The operation time with this material can also be shorter as zirconia implants are manufactured as one piece.
However, there is a reason titanium is still the most popular choice in dental implants. Zirconia implants are, on average, double the price of titanium implants. Additionally, because of their one-piece construction, they cannot go as deep into the bone as titanium implants. As a result of this, they are more difficult to place and are thought to be less stable. Zirconia is still a novel material for this application, so while research is showing excellent results, it is still not as trusted as titanium because of how new it is.
We understand that it could be intimidating to go through a procedure without knowing what will happen. When you contact us, you will be going through these steps in the process.
The first visit to the specialist will be a consultation. In this consultation, an x-ray will be taken of your mouth and a full dental examination will take place to determine what options are available for you. Dental impressions are also taken, which will be used to create your replacement teeth to match the rest of your mouth. After an assessment, your treatment plan will be discussed in terms of procedure, time frame, and after-operation care. A bone graft may also be proposed, depending on the condition of the bone in your mouth.
Depending on whether you have undergone a bone graft or not, it may take four to twelve months for the first implant to be ready. On a separate visit, the actual operation will take place. The specialist will open your gums and insert your new artificial roots. This procedure takes about one or two hours, depending on the scope of your operation.
After the operation, healing can take up to five months for the lower jaw. The upper jaw takes a bit longer and can take up to seven months. When the jaw has sufficiently healed, a healing collar or cap is placed. These are placed as a guide for the gums to heal in the desired way. This healing collar stays on for ten to fourteen days.
The next step of the procedure is the placement of the abutment, where the crowns will be attached. The specialist will take impressions of the abutments after they are placed for each replacement tooth. This impression will be used to make the crowns, which is a process that will take four to six weeks. During this time, you will be provided with a temporary crown to help you chew comfortably.
The final step of the process is crown placement. Your temporary crowns are removed, and your new teeth are installed. Your crowns can be removable or permanent. With permanent crowns, your new teeth are cemented into your mouth and they will look and feel like natural teeth. Removable crowns are mounted onto a frame that is snapped onto the abutments in your mouth. These are meant to be easier to clean and maintain.
In subsequent visits, more x-rays may be taken to check on the alignment and fit of your new teeth. In the time after your operation, you may experience some swelling, pain, or bleeding. Worry not, as these go away in time. As your mouth heals to its original state, it is advised that you avoid alcohol to aid in the healing process.
Caring for your New Teeth
Your new teeth are cared for just like natural teeth. General recommendations include flossing every day and brushing in and around the crown two or three times a day. When brushing, a soft-bristle brush and a low-abrasive toothpaste are recommended.
Are Dental Implants Right for You?
Take a moment to feel your teeth with your tongue. Do you feel a gap where there was once a tooth? Or perhaps you feel a certain tooth that you’ve been told needs to be taken out?
You might not think it is significant, but a gap in your teeth left by a missing tooth can have negative effects if you don’t get dental implants. Some points to consider are:
Oral health is a significant reason to consider getting dental implants. With missing teeth, your bone structure is reduced by up to 25% in the first year of losing your teeth. This will cause your teeth to shift, affecting how you bite into your food. Additionally, the extra wear and tear shouldered by your remaining teeth can become uncomfortable, leading to improper long-term mouth function or even a need for future treatment. Areas with missing teeth also have an increased likelihood of disease. Gum disease affects up to 75% of adults over the age of 35, and toothless gums increase the risk.
The effects on oral health aren’t limited to the area of the missing teeth either. Teeth are meant to work in pairs. When a bottom tooth goes missing, its partner tooth on the upper jaw moves out of alignment with the teeth surrounding it. This can cause headaches, root exposure, and tooth breakage.
When muscles aren’t used, they shrink and their capabilities change. Much like muscles, the jawbone will do the same. Apart from the oral health issues listed above, this will have a great impact on your appearance. As the jawbone density decreases, different parts of your face will collapse. Your cheeks and lips will eventually lose their support and you will have a more aged appearance.
Not only do missing teeth affect your oral health and appearance, but it will affect your overall physical health as well. Patients that have experienced tooth loss have been linked to higher risks of heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes. Studies have shown that people with missing teeth have increased intakes of cholesterol and saturated fats while the intake of produce and fibre is reduced. This is attributed to discomfort in eating high-nutrition foods such as fruits and vegetables.
When teeth are missing, the other teeth have to put in more work to help you chew. Over time this will cause discomfort as your surviving teeth are overtaxed. Your molars, or back teeth, are the ones that do most of the chewing of harder foods. When even one of these goes missing, there is a chance that you might be inclined to skip out on certain foods.
Post Tooth Extraction
An additional reason to consider dental implants is if you are going to be undergoing tooth extraction. You can opt to have the dental implant immediately after the tooth is taken out, as opposed to closing off where the tooth used to be. A dental implant is a good option as it will only involve one operation and no stitches. Opting in for the implant will not only provide you with a new tooth that feels as good or better than the removed tooth but also help preserve your gum tissue and reduce treatment time.
Implant vs Bridge vs Dentures
Dental implants are artificial roots in the form of small posts that are inserted into your jawbone to secure artificial teeth. These teeth can be permanent or removable and are built to last. These implants feel and function just like original teeth. Dental implants have been touted as the most reliable, the most comfortable, and the most aesthetically-pleasing method of replacing teeth.
This procedure can be very expensive. In addition, the procedure is a surgery. While it is a very safe one, there is a small chance of complications arising. On very rare occasions, a patient may have allergic reactions to the material used in the dental implant, for example.
A dental bridge is a false tooth that is placed onto the gums using the surrounding teeth as anchors. These false teeth can be permanent or removable, but either option will prevent the adjacent teeth from moving. This option is also known to look like real teeth and is less invasive as they do not replace tooth roots.
However, dental bridges require the teeth surrounding the area of a missing tooth to be modified in order to secure the replacement. This means that there is a chance that the existing teeth may be damaged. Additionally, there is a risk of tooth decay if the bridge is not fitted properly. The bridge may also collapse if the surrounding teeth are not strong enough to support it.
Dentures are the classic removable teeth that replace all or some missing teeth. These pieces can be held in place by adhesives, but are never meant to be permanent. Modern technology has improved the appearance of dentures over the years, and they have become more and more realistic as time goes on. These removable teeth are the cheapest option for replacing missing teeth and have the shortest treatment time from start to finish.
But, since it is removable, it does mean that it needs to be secured properly. If the denture does not have a proper fit or is not properly secured, it can be awkward to chew with and may fall out at unfortunate moments. The prosthetic is also usually a larger piece, so it may also feel bulky.
What are the potential risks, complications, and problems with dental implants?
Although largely safe with a long history of successful procedures, dental implants still require surgery. Every surgery has complications, and dental implantation is no different. Here are some complications that may arise with the procedure:
It is highly unlikely, but a patient may have a titanium allergy. The chances of this are very low as only about 0.6% of the population has this allergy. This allergy would prompt the recommendation of a zirconia implant, which is more expensive and more difficult to perform.
As with any procedure that involves the jawbone, a lingual nerve may be affected. A large nerve called the inferior alveolar nerve is located near the molars and provides feeling and taste to the tongue. A dental implant may produce numbness for a period of time, but this usually goes away over time.
Sometimes, dental implants in the upper jaw may protrude into the sinus. When this happens, there are usually no long-term effects, but if there is discomfort or a cause for worry, then a procedure called a sinus lift may be performed.
Infection in the area of the implant
Unfortunately, infections are possible with dental implants. Sometimes, bacteria may enter the area of implantation, causing swelling of tissue or bleeding. Other symptoms involve difficulty chewing or general discomfort.
Frequently asked questions:
Are Dental Implants Painful?
The operation itself is painless as you will be placed under anesthesia. You will not be feeling anything during, but you may feel something during recovery. That said, your recovery pains can be managed by prescribed medicines, and most patients say removing a tooth is more painful than receiving dental implants.
What are the costs of dental implants?
Does Insurance Cover the cost?
Most insurance companies classify dental implants as cosmetic surgeries and are therefore not covered by most plans. It is always best to check with your insurance provider to confirm your coverage.
However, you may be able to file the costs of the implants under a medical expense tax credit if you are not a small business owner. If you are a small business owner, you may be eligible for an HSA (Health Spending Account.)
What is the average cost of dental implants in Canada?
Dental implants for a single tooth range from $900 to $4000. This price depends on placement location, material of implant, and clinic.
A full mouth dental implant can cost anywhere from $21000 to $96000. Again, this price is dependent on factors such as material, placement, and clinic.
What Kind of Oral Professional Does Dental Implant?
In essence, any dental practitioner that has undergone training with dental implants can perform the procedure. Those with the titles DDS and DMD go through lifelong education requirements to keep their certification and to keep up to date on oral technologies. Dental implants are included in such education requirements, and the professionals at Loft 19 strive for the best.
Some Example Photos of top dental implant procedures
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Don’t wait for your missing teeth to cause problems. Dental implants can help you maintain your health, appearance, and confidence by providing you with a strong set of realistic replacement teeth. The implants will help you chew better, keep your facial structure from changing, and give you a healthy smile for a lifetime.
The sooner you act, the less influence your missing teeth will have on you. Let a professional see what is right for your situation and help you prevent the negative effects of toothless gums. Contact Loft 19 now to book an appointment for a consultation!