If you have a major tooth problem that has resulted in the removal of the tooth, then you might be considering a dental implant. Dental implants are a popular method of permanently replacing lost or damaged teeth and can return full functionality to your mouth and smile.
Dental implants require a relatively lengthy surgery and healing process. The end results though is that you have a brand new tooth that is just as sturdy and strong as a natural one. They can be a way to rebuild your smile if your teeth have become damaged by decay or mechanical damage.
How Long Do Dental Implants Take?
It depends on the extent of the specific procedure, but most dental implants take around 6 months to fully set and heal. The reason why is that dental implants are placed directly into your jaw bone, so your body needs time to integrate the artificial implant into your natural jaw bone (a process known as “osseointegration”).
Dental implants usually take two distinct procedures. In the first procedure, the dental surgeon will drill an implant into the jaw that has small tapered interiors, like screws. This implant is the thing that will eventually hold the actual tooth. First, the dentist makes a small incision in the gum to expose the bone.
Next, the dentist drills a hole in the bone and screws the implant into place. The hole is then stitched up. After this procedure, the patient must normally wait at least 6 months for the implant to fully set before the tooth can be attached.
Most dental implants are made from titanium. This metal is incredibly strong, resists corrosion and expanding from heat, and is also biocompatible, meaning that it integrates with the body’s natural tissues. Also, titanium is not ferromagnetic, meaning that it won’t be attracted to magnets. There are also implants made from zirconium and other polymers if you do not feel comfortable having metal in your head.
After this implant heals, the next procedure involves the dentist attaching the “abutment.” The abutment is the part that connects to the implant and hotels the crown; i.e., the tooth. The abutment extends out from the gum and connects to the tooth itself. The dentist will reopen the gum to expose the implant and attach the abutment.
Some forms of dental implants do not place it directly in the jaw bone but instead use an abutment on top of the bone above the gums. These types are not as sturdy.
After about 2 more weeks, the abutment will be fully healed around the edges of your gums. Then, your dentist will fit a custom-made crown.
Advantages of Dental Implants
Dental implants have several advantages that make them a useful choice.
- Loose or missing teeth can cause other problems in your mouth. Teeth will shift to fill gaps leftover from missing teeth which can affect function.
- They are, for all intents and purposes, as functional as natural teeth. You can chew, drink, and anything you want with them. They are sturdy and should not come loose after use.
- They prevent bone loss. When you are missing teeth, your jaw bone can start to lose bone mass due to lack of stimulation. A dental implant will keep your jaw bone from degrading over time.
- They prevent gum disease. An exposed tooth socket is a breeding ground for bacteria and a dental implant fills it up.
- They can prevent your face from sagging or premature aging. Facial sagging is caused by bone loss, which can be expedited due to missing teeth.
How Much Do Dental Implants Cost?
It depends on the specific condition of the tooth, but a typical dental implant can cost anywhere between $1,500-$4,000 per tooth. As such, they are fairly expensive, or at least more expensive than a standard crown. A good quality dental implant is designed to last your entire life though so it would be essentially a one-time purchase.
Also, it’s generally the case that a front tooth is more costly to replace than a back tooth. The reason why is that replacement teeth on the front of the jaw bone require more precise placement as the bone is thinner at the front.
Additionally, dental implants are often not covered by insurance because they are considered cosmetic procedures. As such, you will need a special dental policy that covers cosmetic procedures if you want to get one.
Disadvantages of Dental Implants
Dental implants are generally a good solution for your teeth, but they do have some drawbacks:
- They cost a lot. A single dental implant can cost upwards of over $2,000. Moreover, they are often not covered by dental insurance. Many dental offices have payment plans to help finance them.
- They require two procedures. A traditional implant requires two procedures to fully take. First, the implant must be placed. Then the abutment is placed and the crown affixed.
- Lengthy healing process. It takes about 6 months for the implant in the jaw to fully heal before the abutment can be attached. It then takes a few more weeks for the abutment to fully heal before the crown can be placed.
- Bone loss. Although dental implants prevent significant bone loss, you still might lose bone density around your jaw. If you lose too much bone, then your implant can become loose and may need to be reattached.
- Not everyone can get them. Not everyone is a candidate for dental implants. If you do not have enough bone density in your jaw then you might not be able to get an implant that will stay.
To summarize what we covered, the typical dental implant takes about 6 months to fully heal before the crown can be attached. Same-day dental implants exist but they require extra care and precision as the tooth cannot be moved at all once placed.
If you have sustained tooth damage or broken teeth, then a dental implant can be just what you need to get back your confident smile.
Share this Article