Dental ImplantsDental implants have become the tooth replacement system of choice for many people. Implants look and feel like natural teeth and won’t slip about like ill-fitting dentures. Implants also keep your jaw healthy, which maintains your facial appearance.

The increasing popularity of implants means a growing number of people want to know more and more about them. Here are the questions about dental implants that patients most frequently ask Coeur d'Alene Dental Center.

What is a dental implant?

A dental implant is a small screw-like rod, usually made of titanium. It’s surgically inserted into the bone socket of a missing tooth to provide a secure anchor for a crown, bridge or denture. Implants can support a single tooth or several teeth or in cases when all the teeth have been lost.

Is implant treatment painful?

Most implants are fitted with the patient having been given local anesthesia. This injection may sting a little but once the surgical area becomes numb you should feel no pain or discomfort throughout the treatment. You might feel some pushing or pressing during the procedure and vibrations during the drilling stage.

For multiple implants and complex cases or with particularly anxious patients, sedation can be administered in addition to a local anesthetic. Sedation will make you feel relaxed and comfortable during your treatment and you’ll probably remember little about the procedure afterward.

Will I need a bone graft?

A bone graft is only necessary when there is insufficient bone in the jaw to take an implant after the removal or loss of teeth. This situation can arise if your teeth have been missing for some time. The graft material is taken from the patient or an external source and used to cover the exposed tooth root to level the gum line and reduce sensitivity.

Can dentures and implants work together?

Implants combined with full or partial dentures can provide a highly effective solution to tooth loss that has several advantages over regular dentures. Implant-supported dentures are often used for the lower jaw, where traditional dentures tend to be unstable. However, you can still have an implant denture in the upper jaw.

What are mini dental implants?

Mini dental implants are often used when a patient has lost a significant amount of jaw bone. While regular implants usually consist of two pieces that are inserted with an external screw, mini implants comprise a smaller, one-piece screw with a ball-shaped end on which to attach the artificial tooth.

What are micro dental implants?

Micro dental implants, which, as the name suggests, are even smaller than mini implants, are used when the space between teeth is very small. They can also be used to hold temporary bridgework in place.

Can implants be used in orthodontic treatment?

Implants can be used as anchors to prevent too much movement when braces are being worn to reposition your teeth.

Will having a dental implant weaken my jaw?

No – just the opposite. When the jaw bone is not supporting a tooth – as with conventional dentures and bridges – it deteriorates. However, the titanium in an implant promotes bone growth as the jaw grows back around the implant.

Will I have to be careful about what I eat after getting implants?

No. Implant-supported replacement teeth function the same as natural teeth. You can eat whatever you want. While the biting force of traditional dentures is far less than that of natural teeth, implant-retained dentures give you a powerful bite function. According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID), implants are the preferred method of tooth replacement because of their high level of functionality.

Will implants damage my remaining healthy teeth?

No. Some tooth replacement systems can weaken adjacent teeth but implants protect your healthy teeth and also help to prevent them from shifting.

How long do implants last?

While bridges and removable dentures may need replacing over time, implants should last a lifetime with proper care.

How much do dental implants cost?

Implant treatment can be complicated and time-consuming, so it’s moderately expensive. However, bearing in mind that implants can last a lifetime, most patients don’t regard cost as the overriding factor when considering implant treatment.

Do dental implants look natural?

An implant-supported tooth looks just like a natural tooth. Implant teeth are strong and stable and allow you to smile naturally because, unlike dentures, they never slip or shift. Implants also retain the natural shape of your face.

How long does implant treatment take?

The healing process after implants have been fitted can take several months before replacement teeth can be attached after the bone has grown around the implant to secure it in place.

Replacement teeth are customized in the form of a bridge, dentures or crown, which are attached to the implant posts. Prosthetic teeth can take some time to make, and your dentist may give you temporary fittings so you can speak and eat as usual until the permanent replacement teeth are ready.

How do I take care of my dental implants?

Everyday care of implants is almost the same as standard oral hygiene. When you brush twice a day and floss daily, pay special attention to all sides of the implant. You should see your dentist regularly for a check-up and professional cleaning.

How do I know whether dental implants are right for me?

An implant may be right for you if you want a long-lasting, natural-looking tooth replacement solution that avoids damaging surrounding healthy teeth. Whether you’re missing one or more teeth, dental implants can transform your life in terms of both aesthetics and functionality. Talking to an experienced implant dentist will help you to decide whether implants are the best option for you.

According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, implants are suitable for anyone in good general health whose jaw has fully developed. The WebMD health information platform says anyone healthy enough to have a routine tooth extraction is a potential candidate for an implant.