A dental implant is an artificial tooth root, made from titanium, which is placed into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth, bridge, or denture. Because implants fuse to your jawbone, they provide stable support for artificial teeth.
This secure fit helps the dentures, bridges, or individual crowns, placed over the implants feel more natural than conventional bridges or dentures.
One major benefit to implants is that they are not susceptible to decay. However, they are still vulnerable to bone loss so proper hygiene is very important.
When properly maintained with adequate brushing and flossing, a dental implant itself can last a lifetime.
Most restorations placed on top of the implant, however, are rated to last about 10 to 15 years before normal wear can cause the tooth to require replacement.
Mouth location is also a factor in the expected longevity of a dental implant. Implants in the back of the mouth receive more strain from chewing, which can cause them to fail more quickly than implants near the front of the mouth.
Other factors that affect how long dental implants last depend largely on the patient’s lifestyle and overall dental hygiene. Preexisting medical conditions, diseases, and implant misuse are factors that can possibly cause an implant to fail.
Lack of proper dental hygiene and regular dental visits is the most common cause for failure of a dental implant.
Clinically there is no visible evidence of the implant. The only thing visible is the restoration made to fit on top of the implant.
These restorations are made to look as natural as possible and match any surrounding natural teeth or other restorations.
Dental implant surgery is usually an outpatient surgery with little to no down time required after.
First your damaged tooth is removed. At this stage the implant may either be immediately placed or a bone graft may be done if insufficient bone support exists.
You will then go through a healing period that may last several months. If you have had a bone graft, at the end of this healing phase, you will then have the actual implant placed into your jaw.
Another healing period would then be necessary to allow the implant to secure itself into the bone. Once all healing is complete it will be time to begin the restoration process.
This typically includes one or more sets of impressions or other record gathering steps necessary to help the laboratory fabricate the most accurate restoration.
Once the restoration has been fabricated it will then be fitted permanently onto the implant.
Most insurance plans do allow for some coverage for dental implants. Be sure to review your individual dental insurance policy to see what coverage you may have.