Of all the tooth replacement options available, a dental implant is the best one for most patients. But to get the best, you must be ready to pay a higher cost. The average dental implant usually costs somewhere between $5,000 and $6,000. This is higher than the cost of a bridge, but an implant offers significant advantages over a bridge.
For one, when a bridge is designed to replace one missing or unsalvageable tooth, it is usually attached to the teeth on either side of it via crowns placed over those teeth. If the neighboring teeth are healthy, they must still be shaved down in order to place the crown, meaning you lose a healthy tooth structure. Additionally, the bridge sits atop the gums and over time, the area of the missing tooth shrinks under the bridge resulting in food impaction.
Am I an Ideal Candidate for a Dental Implant?
If you’re wondering if a dental implant is right for you, you’ll need to schedule a consultation with the restorative dentist. There are various things that factor into the decision and many of them require a comprehensive dental exam. One of the most important questions to be answered is there sufficient bone to support an implant? If not, a bone graft procedure may need to be done first. Additionally, the periodontal infection must be eliminated before implants can be contemplated. It is almost always possible to get a dental implant placed if that’s your first choice.
What Does a Dental Implant Consultation Entail?
The first step is an examination including imaging. Radiographs and 3D images (CBCT) are used to evaluate if there is sufficient bone density to support an implant. Images also identify if there are any other dental issues that need to be addressed before the implant procedure begins. If it is determined that a dental implant is possible, the steps in the process will be outlined and the next appointment will be scheduled.
How Long Does Recovery Take After Having the Implant Placed?
It won’t take long to return to normal activity following your implant procedure. You may have to rest a bit the same day following your procedure, depending on what type of anesthesia is used. You’ll need to avoid chewing or putting any pressure on the site of the implant for at least 6 weeks.
Is the Procedure Painful?
During the implant procedure, you will have anesthesia to prevent any discomfort. The type and extent of the anesthesia used will be up to you and your dentist. You should feel very little pain afterward. If a bone graft procedure is needed before the implant, you may feel more discomfort after this procedure is performed than after the implant placement. Pain is usually quite manageable with over the counter pain relievers, but prescription medication may be prescribed if needed.
Will I Have a Missing Tooth While the Implant Heals?
If the implant is in a non-visible part of your mouth, no temporary crown is needed while the implant site heals. There are options for temporary replacements if necessary in the meantime. Removable options called “flippers” and appliances are one option. Semi-permanent bonded crowns are another. Discuss your options with your dentist to determine what will work best for you.
How Are Implants Different From Dentures?
Dentures are typically a complete row or arch of teeth in one solid piece. A dental implant is an individual artificial tooth and root system. Implants are fixed in place, while dentures are often removable. You can brush and floss around your implants just like you would your natural teeth. Dentures require suction and adhesives to stay in place while eating, but implants stay in place all on their own because they are implanted in the jaw bone.
What’s the Difference Between a Bridge and an Implant?
A bridge is an artificial tooth or row of teeth that attach to the teeth on either side via crowns. A bridge sits on top of the gums rather than reaching under the gum line and into the jaw as an implant does. A bridge is less expensive than an implant-supported crown and can be placed in a shorter time. One disadvantage is that the healthy teeth on either side of a bridge must be shaved down and covered with crowns that hold the bridge in place. Another disadvantage is that food can get underneath a bridge and cause infection in the gums and decay in the neighboring teeth. An implant is more secure and functions more like a natural tooth. Bridges are a 20th-century solution to tooth replacement and they still work very well. Implant restorations are more conservative because they do not involve removing natural tooth structure.