Common Questions and Answers

Reconstructive and Implant Dentistry

1. WHAT IS AN IMPLANT?

An implant is a man-made tooth root that occupies the positions that your natural teeth once held.
Implants are made from a biologically safe metal and are designed in various shapes and sizes to fit your individual needs.

2. HOW MUCH DOES AN IMPLANT COST?

The costs varies according to the type and number of implant best suited for you. Dental implants are the best long term solution to replace missing teeth both financially and for health reasons. People who choose dentures will experience gum shrinkage due to loss of bone which naturally occurs when teeth are extracted without root replacement. Partials attach to surrounding teeth that will eventually wear down and ultimately endanger those healthly teeth. Repeat adjustments, denture relines and completely replacing these removable teeth will cost you money long term and compromise your dental health.

3. DO YOU TAKE PAYMENTS?

Our normal financial arrangements are payment at the time services are rendered. However, our office administrator will be happy to discuss our alternative payment plans with you if necessary.

4. WILL MY INSURANCE COVER DENTAL IMPLANT THERAPY?

Many insurance carriers help with the fees required for implant dentistry. It depends on your particular insurance policy. Bring your insurance handbook in and we will be glad to have our insurance coordinator review it.

5. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF DENTAL IMPLANTS?

There are many benefits, both physical and emotional. Dental implants eliminate the pain and discomfort of dentures, greatly increase chewing ability (which improves digestion) and allows for more normal activites such as dining out with friends and family activities. Emotionallly, the relief from embarrassment and worry caused by removable dentures can restore a healthier, more positive self image. You can feel confident when you smile and it shows.

6. ARE DENTAL IMPLANTS RECOMMENDED FOR PARTIAL TOOTH LOSS?

In most cases, yes. Even people who have worn a partial denture for a long period of time might require adjustments due to gum and bone shrinkage that is typically caused by a lack of stimulation to the tissue. Dental implants not only represent a solution to the problem of partial tooth loss, but also the problems caused by partial dentures.

7. WHY DO DENTURES LOSE THEIR FIT?

In many cases, a long time denture wearer will actulally experience bone shrinkage. When this occurs, the dentures seem to become loose and awkward even when the adhesives are applied, much like the way clothes become baggy when one looses weight. With implant support, loose fitting dentures can be eliminated permanently.

8. IS IT TRUE THAT A MISSING TOOTH CAN CAUSE FURTHER BONE LOSS IN MY JAW?

There are more reasons to replace your missing teeth than closing a gap in your smile. When you lose a tooth, there is a small area in your jawbone that no longer needs to provide support. The tooth and root structure are no longer present. Because the need for support is gone, the jawbone begins to lose its stength and firmness. The best solution from a health and a function perspective when teeth are missing is the placement of dental implants. The implant replaces the missing root stucture, recreating bone stimulation.

9. HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN IMPLANT?

The dental implant process works in stages and individual cases vary. The first visit is an evaluation for the dentist to deteremine your options and offer a recommendation. A specific treatment plan is then created and presented to the patient. Typically the implant (artificial tooth root) is then placed and allowed to fuse to the surrounding bone for 4-6 months. A post is then attached to the implant and covered with a porcelain crown. The resulting replacement tooth looks, functions and is cared for like a natural tooth.

10. AM I TOO OLD FOR A DENTAL IMPLANT?

Absolutely not! You are never to old to enjoy the many benefits dental implants have to offer. Your general health must be good, but once your body has finished growing as an adolescent, you are a candidate. If you have one missing tooth or several missing teeth, you are a candidate. Even if you have worn dentures for years, you can choose to have dental implants. You can enjoy the security of teeth that don't move when you eat or click when you talk. No matter your age, you shouldn't spend one more day feeling uncomfortable.

11. DO I NEED AN IMPLANT FOR EVERY MISSING TOOTH?

No! An individual missing tooth is replaced using a single dental implant (artificial tooth root) with a porcelain crown. If there are several teeth that are missing in the same area, a fixed bridge can be made and anchored by two or three implants. If you are missing all of your teeth on the top or bottom (or both), a prosthesis called an overdenture can be made and supported by several dental implants. The exact number of implants needed will vary depending on your specific case.

12. WHY HAVE DENTAL IMPLANTS BECOME SO POPULAR?

As our life span continues to increase, so does the need for some type of permanent dental replacement system. A complete compliment of teeth is imperative to our overall health. Dentures and removable bridges have obvious problems. They are loose and unstable which inhibits our ability to speak and chew properly, robbing us of our self-esteem and confidence. Implants can provide us with dental replacements that are functional long term, but also look and feel quite natural. The success rate of dental implants, and the personal satisfaction of individuals who choose them, is always better than that of long term denture wearers.

13. AM I EVER WITHOUT MY TEETH DURING THE IMPLANT PROCESS?

No you aren't! Individual treatment plans will vary, but we will make sure you are never without your teeth. Your current denture or partial can usually be worn with a soft liner, or cushion, throughout the entire dental implant process. If teeth are extracted, temporary dentures (complete or partial) can also be created for you to wear during the healing time. Of course, once your implant process is finished, you will be able to enjoy natural looking teeth that will not move or click when you are eating or speaking. Your implants will become a part of you.

14. DO DENTAL IMPLANTS NEED SPECIAL CARE?

Once your dental implants are in place, you will care for them the same way you would care for your natural teeth. It is always important that you take the time for good oral hygiene through regular brushing and flossing each day. It is also essential that you maintain regular appointments with your dentist or dental hygienist. My recommendation is two to four times a year, depending on your personal oral health. Dental implants will serve you well for many years if you properly care for them and keep your mouth healthy.

15. I'M NOT SURE IF A DENTAL IMPLANT IS RIGHT FOR ME. HOW DO I FIND OUT?

Come see us! We sit down with people all the time who would like to consider the various options regarding their personal dental health. At the first evaluation appointment, we will examine your teeth, take (or view) current x-rays and make study models. These diagnostic aids are used to develop a treatment plan designed specifically for you. During that appointment, the various treatment options available will be explained to you. After answering all your questions, we feel sure that you will be ready to make the best personal choice.

16. WHY WOULDN'T I USE A BRIDGE INSTEAD OF AN IMPLANT TO REPLACE MY MISSING TOOTH?

Fixed bridges have been used to replace missing teeth for over 100 years. However, if you use a fixed bridge, the two adjacent teeth will need to be cut down to fit three connecting crowns over those two neighboring teeth (regardless of their condition). It can be difficult to floss around the bridge, leading to possible recurrent decay. An implant replaces the natural tooth by fusing to the bone, taking away the need to involve adjacent teeth. Implants are made of surgical titanium alloy, eliminating the possibility of decay. An implant looks and feels more natural and is more stable than any other tooth replacement available.

17. HOW SOON AFTER HAVING TEETH PULLED CAN I START WEARING DENTURES OR BEGIN THE IMPLANT PROCESS?

Sometimes, immediately! We make sure that you will never be without your teeth. The amount of time you wear your temporary denture will depend upon your specific treatment plan. Many times, implants can be placed at the same time the teeth are extracted. Patients requiring bone grafts will need additional healing time following the extractions before the implants can be placed.