Dental Implants – In-Depth Review

Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Jade Roberts

dental implant in the lower jaw

Overview

Dental implants require a small, titanium post to be surgically embedded into the jawbone. This post sits just below the gum line and will eventually fuse to the jawbone. Once it has fused, the post provides a stable foundation for a crown, which is a single-tooth replacement. Dental implants are also used with multiple teeth in the form of a bridge or to hold snap-in dentures securely.


Summary

Tooth loss affects our ability to chew food, speak clearly, and smile confidently. When you’re missing teeth due to damage, decay, or injury, your whole life may be affected.

Tooth loss can occur at any age, but most often happens as a person ages, especially in those people who do not have good oral hygiene or take certain types of medications. Older people who lose some or all of their teeth generally get partial or full dentures to fill in the gaps and help improve eating and speaking. However, there are some disadvantages with dentures that make dental implants a popular choice for many people.

While there are many positives regarding dental implants, there are also a few negatives that you need to be aware of. They include:

Positives

Dental implants can replace a single tooth, or several teeth in a bridge, or can be used to hold snap-in dentures securely in place
Dental implants can last a lifetime if taken care of properly
Dental implants have a 98 percent success rate

Negatives

Dental implants are more successful in adults who have finished growing and developing
Dental implants are very costly compared to most other false teeth options
Dental implants take 3 to 4 months healing time once the post is embedded into the jawline

Types of Dental Implants

There are three basic types of dental implants. They are a single tooth, an implant-supported bridge, and an implant-supported denture.

Single Tooth Dental Implant

As the name suggests, this is an implant that is designed specifically to replace a single tooth. In some patients who have more than one missing tooth, but they are single teeth spaced between natural teeth, single-tooth dental implants are the best solution. In other words, it is possible to have more than one single-tooth dental implant if the situation permits.

jaw with implants supported dental bridge

Implant-Supported Dental Bridge

In circumstances where multiple teeth are missing next to each other, an implant-supported bridge would be a good solution. The bridge would contain more than one false tooth that would be held in place by crowns on either side of the gap being filled.

Implant-Supported Dentures

In cases where a partial denture or full denture is required to replace missing teeth, implant posts can be inserted into the jawbone. These posts would then perform as the foundation of snap-in dentures that would be held securely in place by the implants. This type of dental implant will allow snap-in partial or full dentures to be removed when required. Implant-supported dentures are also known as implant-retained dentures, overdentures, or snap-in dentures.


Dental Implants Pricing

Dental implants are the most expensive false teeth options. The average cost of the post, abutment, and crown ranges from $3,000 to $5,000. There are additional costs, when necessary, for such things as x-rays, a CT scan, tooth extraction, and bone grafting.


Other Types of Dentures

There are several different types of dentures aside from dental implants. They include:

Traditional Full (or Complete) Dentures

Full dentures are the types of dentures we usually think about when talking about false teeth. They come as either uppers (for the top row of teeth) or lowers (for the bottom row of teeth) and are used to replace a complete row of missing teeth.

Partial Dentures

When an individual is missing one or more teeth but still has natural teeth, a partial denture is a common solution to fill the missing tooth or teeth. As the name implies, it is used to replace a partial row of missing teeth. Partial dentures are often removable and come in a number of varieties.

Custom Dentures

Custom dentures are false teeth that are custom-made to match your natural teeth color and provide you with a smile that appears far more realistic. These are also more expensive than other dentures as the material used is of better quality.

Immediate Dentures

When an individual is getting a full set of dentures, immediate dentures may be used in the interim. This type of tooth replacement is fit into a patient’s mouth immediately after they have had all of their remaining teeth extracted.

Economy Dentures

For some individuals, economy dentures are the most affordable option available to them. These are generic dentures that may not fit well, may not be comfortable, and will most certainly look fake.


Parts

There are three basic parts to a dental implant.

  1. The screw or post – This is usually made of titanium and gets surgically embedded into the jawbone.
  2. The Abutment – This connects the screw to the tooth
  3. The Prosthetic Tooth or Teeth (crown, bridge, or denture)

Once the post fuses with the jawbone (this is known as Osseointegration), the abutment is placed, and then the prosthetic tooth is attached to the abutment. Depending on how many teeth need to be replaced, a crown or bridge will be used. Bridges are used to fill gaps where there is more than one missing tooth.


Material

Dental implants come in two different types of materials. They are available in titanium and zirconia. Titanium is the most common, although Zirconia is gaining in popularity. Titanium is a metal that fuses well with bone and is extremely durable. Zirconia is a ceramic material that is also very durable. In the early 2000s, all-in-one crowns made of zirconia appeared and they have attracted a great deal of attention since.


Procedure

When deciding if you should opt for dental implants, first you need to understand the procedure. If you opt for dental implants, you must understand that the process requires a couple of surgical procedures, so it is a time-consuming option.

There are essentially 3 or 4 steps to the dental implant process. They look like this:

Step 1

Not just anyone can get dental implants. Some criteria will be used to determine the eligibility of an individual. This assessment is done through a meeting with the dental implant expert at a dental office. The amount of bone in the jaw is a determining factor and some treatments can be used to assist with this such as bone grafting. If a custom treatment plan cannot be created, dental implants will not be a logical solution.

Step 2

The first surgical procedure needed for dental implants is actually placing the implant into the gums. During this procedure, the gums are slit, and a hole is drilled into the bone so the surgeon can place the titanium implant into the jawbone.

The length of this procedure depends on how many false teeth implants a patient is receiving. The surgeon can usually place about one implant per hour. After this first procedure, the patient is given antibiotics and requested to come back in about a week to have the stitches removed. There is usually some mild pain reported after the procedure.

Step 3

A second surgery takes place after the false teeth implants have attached to the surrounding bone. During this procedure, the surgeon makes a small slit in the gum to remove the protective screw from the implant and inserts a healing cap in its place. This cap sits above the gums where the tooth would be and maintains the space so the gums can heal correctly around the dental implant.

The duration of the healing process outlined in steps 2 & 3 can last between 3 and 6 months and is necessary for the post to fuse with the jawbone.

Step 4

After the jawbone has healed, a custom-designed crown is attached to the post with an abutment. The new tooth should look as if it belongs to all the other teeth in your mouth.


Dental Implants Recovery Tips

When you have a dental implant procedure, there is a recovery process. During the first week, it is important to avoid agitation to the implant. This requires taking precautionary measures as well as following these tips for quick recovery.

Get plenty of rest and limit your activity

Before resuming your normal routine a few days after dental surgery, take a break to rest. This helps the body to heal and avoid putting pressure on the implant site. Keeping your body active can cause blood clots and “dry sockets“, a painful condition that exposes the implants to infections.

When you return to work and your normal activities, avoid anything that may damage your mouth. For example, you should avoid playing, running, or fighting with children until the dentist releases you.

During the period of recovery, you should eat soft foods and take fluids for the first few days to relieve the implant areas. Light foods such as yogurt, fruit shakes, and soups can help you avoid chewing. Avoid exposing the implant site to extreme heat and cold, and foods such as nuts and candy that are difficult to chew.

Cold Compression And Salt Water

There may be bruising or swelling on your face, which is normal. Ice packs will help reduce it to some extent. It should be used for 10 minutes at a time, with an interval of 5 minutes between them. Do this for at least six to eight hours.

During the first week of recovery, follow this mixture; one teaspoon of salt in a glass of lukewarm water. Rinse with this solution three times a day for seven days, as it is very important to maintain oral hygiene to promote healing.

Brush Your Teeth With A Soft Brush

Brush your teeth regularly to prevent the growth of germs and bacteria. Brush all teeth regularly, but avoid brushing the area of the implants for a few days to avoid irritation. In the case of replacing all your teeth, gargling with salt water will be sufficient.

You can use any toothbrush, but its bristles should be soft and flexible so that it can clean the crown and implants easily. You can use a nylon-coated interdental brush or a proximal brush to clean the gaps between the teeth and hard-to-reach areas around the implant and crown. Use a pure nylon interdental brush without wires to avoid scratching the surface of your implant or crown. Make sure to always thoroughly brush the surface of each tooth, paying special attention to the areas between teeth.

Avoid Smoking At All Costs

The truth is that smokers are at greater risk of dental implant failure. This is due to the fact that smoking negatively affects general health and oral hygiene.

As smoking increases the risk of issues, smokers should avoid smoking cigarettes in the first few weeks after this procedure. Smoking interferes with the natural healing process of the mouth and increases the risk of infection. This is particularly important for those who have more severe dental surgery and bone grafts.

Use A Gum Stimulator

Gum stimulants are gaining popularity among patients who have undergone dental implants. Stimulants help to strengthen the gingival tissue and increases the circulation of oxygen and blood in the area. They also massage the gums to reduce bleeding and inflammation. Gum stimulants also strengthen the gums and prepare them to adjust to dental implants.


Recovery Time

dental implant in the gum

The time it takes for your mouth to recover after the dental implant process can vary depending on several factors, such as:

  • The number of teeth you have removed and implanted, i.e. single or multiple dental implants
  • If you had to have a bone graft during surgery
  • The overall health of your mouth and bone structure
  • The current pattern of your health and the rate at which your body is recovering.

But you can expect it to be painful for at least the first two days after surgery. You may also feel bloating and bleeding during the first two days. After the third day, you should start feeling more comfortable and the swelling should reduce or completely go away.

It is only after the first full week that your mouth should start feeling normal, as all swelling and pain have subsided and there will be no risk of infection.

For the process to work, the metal posts must have the ability to stay in place and merge with the jaws. Limited activity and consumption of soft foods are required to ensure that they are not being pulled or pushed out of place. Your gums will heal, and any discomfort should go away within a few days.

It is best to take extra care of your oral health for the first two weeks of recovery. After that, you can start eating normal foods that are not too hard. You should visit your dentist after a week or two to ensure that everything is fine, and recovery is taking place as expected.


Ages

Dental implants are typically an option available to adults and are more successful when installed in adults. The reason for this is that after a certain age, we stop growing and developing. Depending on the dentist, dental implants will likely not be offered to boys 18 and under or girls 16 and under.


Appearance

After the crown is attached to the implant abutment, the tooth will look much like your natural teeth. It is very unlikely that anyone will be able to identify that your smile contains dental implants.


Getting Used To Them

Just like getting used to wearing full or partial dentures, you have to ease into dental implants by eating soft food for a period. Also, take time to ‘re-learn’ how to talk by speaking slowly. Don’t be alarmed if your mouth begins producing extra saliva, as that is normal and will eventually end. If you do not fully adjust to your dental implants within a few weeks, see your dentist for advice.


Keeping In Place

Dental implants are the easiest of the different types of false teeth to keep in place. This is because they are anchored by titanium posts that are embedded into the jawbone. Once these tiny screws fuse into the bone matter, anything attached to them will remain securely held until removed.


Care

Caring for a dental implant is different from caring for dentures. First, it is important to clean your implants twice per day with low-abrasive toothpaste on a soft-bristled toothbrush. Ensure that you brush under and around the implant crown. You can clean hard-to-reach areas with a nylon-coated interdental brush and floss daily with either an implant-specific floss or unwaxed tape. Follow this up with rinsing with an approved oral irrigator.


Whitening

Dental implants cannot be whitened. Because they are made of materials that are not as porous as natural teeth, they should not require whitening.


Storage

For removable dental implants, store them in a denture storage container that has a cleaning solution in it. This prevents them from drying out and becoming brittle. Your local drugstore or pharmacy should have the type of storage container and the soaking solution you will need.


Comfort

Single-tooth dental implants should feel as normal as your natural teeth after a period of adjustment has passed. Removable implant-anchored dentures will take a little longer to get used to but will soon feel natural and comfortable to wear.


Repair

It is possible to chip a dental implant. These problems can be repaired but you must go to your dentist for a proper repair. More serious damage to a crown may require complete replacement, which is also possible through your dental office.


Sleep

If you have a single dental implant tooth, you can sleep with it in your mouth as it is designed to be a permanent replacement. As for implant-supported dentures, it is best to remove these overnight. Although they may be intended to be permanent replacements for multiple missing teeth, they are also designed to snap in and snap out for a reason. As secure as they are when snapped into place, you really should not sleep wearing these dentures.


Lifespan

A dental implant can last a lifetime if it is cared for properly.


Foods

Dental implants are a little different from traditional dentures in that the foods that may cause dentures to dislodge do not typically impact dental implants. However, you may still want to avoid some sticky and hard-to-bite foods until you are used to wearing your dental implants.


Smoking

Dental implants fail more often with smokers than non-smokers. That is because smoking impacts oral hygiene around the implants and increases the risk of developing peri-implantitis. Peri-implantitis is a disease that inflames soft tissue and develops into bone loss around an implant.


Other Issues

There are a few issues that may occur with dental implants. The most common is an implant that loosens during the healing process. This can occur where there is bone loss, or a bone graft was required. Another issue is bone loss. This can cause an implant to become loose and is normally remedied with a bone graft to add more material for the implant to fuse with. An infection such as peri-implantitis can develop with your implant. This disease can cause swelling of the soft tissue and bone loss around the implant. The last issue to watch for is excess space. If an implant is not the right size and shape for the tooth it is replacing, it can lead to food getting caught between it and the natural teeth on either side due to excess space between them.


Interesting Facts

Dental Implants Are Strong

There is only one tooth replacement option that is as strong and durable as natural teeth. That is a dental implant.

Implant Surgery Is A Common Procedure

Although the process of inserting a piece of metal into the jawbone sounds complicated, dental implant surgery is not difficult to perform. Nor is it dangerous.

Implants Are Easy To Take Care Of

Considering that the material used in dental implants is less porous than natural teeth, it makes sense that cavities and tooth decay will be a thing of the past. However, you still need to care for them as well as surrounding natural teeth. Normal brushing and flossing will keep them looking great.

Dental Implants Reduce Bone Loss

The loss of a tooth root from a missing tooth normally results in a receding of bone where the tooth root once existed. A dental implant ‘replaces’ the missing root and prevents the jawbone from receding.

There Are Health Benefits To Dental Implants

Dental implants allow you to bite and chew as you normally would with all of your natural teeth. This allows you to follow a healthy diet which keeps you in good shape.


FAQs

What is a dental implant?

A dental implant involves the surgical implantation of a tiny titanium screw in your jawbone. It sits just under the gumline and is fused to the bone. Once this heals, an abutment is attached, and a crown is added. This becomes a permanent replacement tooth.

How can dental implants help?

From injuries to poor dental hygiene, there are a lot of different causes of tooth loss. Missing teeth result in difficulty chewing, impaired speech, early bone loss, irregular wearing, and the shifting of any adjacent remaining teeth. Along with physical symptoms, people who have lost teeth often endure lowered self-confidence and self-esteem.

Replacing missing teeth using dental implants can help with all these problems.

What are the different dental implants?

There are three different types of dental implants. There is the single-tooth implant, there is a dental bridge implant that is used to replace one or two missing teeth in a row, and there is the implant-supported denture which is a snap-in denture that replaces multiple teeth.

What is the process of getting a dental implant?

First, you have to be considered a candidate for dental implants. This is not a dental solution that works for every patient. The first step to dental implants is meeting with your dentist to determine your eligibility. The second step will see the metal post surgically implanted into your jawbone. This requires three to four months to heal completely. If the post has properly fused to the bone, a custom-designed crown is attached to the screw with an abutment. This new tooth will look like the rest of your natural teeth.

What is a dental bridge implant?

A dental bridge is where two crowns sit on either side of the gap created by a missing tooth with a false tooth filling that gap that is held in place by the crowns. In other words, the crowns bridge the gap with an artificial tooth.

What is an implant-supported denture?

overdenture to be seated on implants

An implant-supported denture is a denture that sits on top of supporting dental implants. This is a good solution to replace a row of missing teeth. This type of denture snaps into place and is removable by snapping it out of place. These removable dentures are also known as overdentures or snap-in dentures.

What are the problems associated with implant surgery?

There are some problems that can arise with denture implants. While implant surgery is successful in a high percentage of patients, that leaves a small percentage where implant failure can occur.

Implant failure occurs when the implant does not attach to the surrounding bone. When this happens the implant has to be removed, and another attempt can be made at a later time. Some common reasons why dental implants fail to attach to bone include infection around the implant, cigarette smoking, titanium allergies, and lack of healthy bone.

As with all types of surgical procedures, there are some risks involved. These include infection, bleeding, and injury to the sinuses, nasal cavity, or nerves near the implant area immediately following surgery. Other complications include bacteria that can lead to periodontal disease and bone loss. Dental implant breakage may also occur, leading to the removal of the broken implant.

How do dental implants differ from dentures?

Dentures can reestablish some tooth function but come with several drawbacks. As an example, many dentures have a tendency to slide about in the mouth, causing discomfort. Since they are not as sturdy as real teeth, traditional dentures limit the types of foods that one can eat. They must also be removed often, which can be a hassle and a reason for embarrassment.

As opposed to dentures, dental implants offer a lasting resolution. Implants involve the placement of metal anchoring devices straight into the jawbone. After the implants have fused with the bone, prosthetic teeth are affixed. These artificial crowns are crafted individually for each and every patient’s mouth and they function just like actual teeth, restoring the freedom to eat favorite foods, talk clearly, and smile pleasantly.

Anybody with healthy gums and bone structure is likely to be eligible for dental implants. When performed by an expert implant specialist, dental implants are safe, affordable, and permanent.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of dental implants?

There are several pros and cons to consider with regard to dental implants. They include:

Advantages
– Strong and durable
– Custom-designed for each mouth
– Look great and better than many other false teeth options
– Last a lifetime if cared for properly
– Easy to care for

Disadvantages
– They are an expensive option
– Not every patient is a good candidate for this procedure
– Changes are difficult to do to existing implants
– Crowns can crack or chip but are easy to repair
– Bone loss may occur without proper oral hygiene


In Conclusion

Dental implants can be a great solution for a missing tooth or teeth. Other than being quite expensive, they have many advantages over regular dentures.

While dental implants may require several procedures and more time to complete than traditional dentures, there are several advantages to this option. Because they are implanted and attached to bone, they are more like a person’s real teeth. This makes eating and talking easier than it may be with traditional dentures. Dental implants will not slip and do not require any type of adhesives to hold them in place. You can brush and care for them just as you would your original teeth.

For many people, dental implants remove the embarrassment one might feel when having to wear dentures that may slip or fall out while eating or during a conversation. And for most people, the benefits of affordable dental implants far out-way any negatives, and this is why they are a popular choice to replace missing teeth.

To find out exactly what type of dental implant is best for your situation, visit your local dentist. Or if you have any further questions, let us know in the comments below…

About Jade Roberts

After having a lot of dental issues when she was younger, and years of restorative dental work, Jade knows how difficult it is to find the right dental information. This forced her to do countless hours of research and connect with dental experts all over the world to find the right information. Learning has made her passionate about sharing her knowledge and experience so that others don't have to go through the same issues. "If I make any recommendations in the articles on the False Teeth Options website, it is because my team and I have researched and/or tested the products ourselves, and would be comfortable recommending them to our own family and friends. I'd love to hear of your experiences. So if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch."

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