10 Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Implants
Learning what truly sets dental implants apart
Dental implants are widely regarded as the best and most versatile tooth replacement option that modern dentistry has to offer—and with so many tooth replacement options available nowadays, that’s quite an accomplishment! Because of this, if you’re looking to replace a missing tooth, dental implants are one of the first options you’ll likely learn about. They’re so versatile that providing a range of different treatment options, even within the scope of implants themselves, is a lot to process. This leads to a lot of questions, and it’s not always easy to find simple and accurate answers on the internet. To help you learn more about implants and if they’re right for you, we’ve put together 10 of the most common questions people ask us about dental implants in Boise, ID.
1. What are the main types of dental implants?
The three main types of dental implants are single, stand-alone implants; implant-supported bridges; and implant-supported dentures. Each of these options takes a different number of implants, and they’re fitted with different types of dental restoration, allowing the implants to replace a different number of teeth. Single stand-alone dental implants consist of a single dental implant that’s secured with a dental crown to replace a single missing tooth.
Traditional bridges are supported by healthy teeth on either side of the gap in your smile, and implant-supported bridges work similarly. The big difference is that the bridge is supported by implants, which allows the implant-supported bridges to replace more teeth than traditional bridges—generally between three or four teeth.
Finally, implant-supported dentures, sometimes called full arch dental implants, are designed to replace one or both arches of your teeth. With this type of implant, each new arch is generally supported by somewhere between four and six implants. The versatility of the different types of implants means that they can easily be adapted to meet your treatment needs, whether you need to replace a single tooth or many.
2. What kind of dentist provides tooth implants?
Several types of dentists can perform tooth implant procedures. These include oral surgeons, prosthodontists, and dentists who perform prosthodontics. Not all general or family dentists perform prosthodontics, but some have completed continuing education courses that give them the knowledge and experience to perform the procedure.
3. How long do dental implants last?
When you take great care of your dental implants using a thorough at-home oral hygiene routine and have regular visits to your dentist, your dental implants should last you a lifetime. Over time, the restorations on top of your implants may experience wear and tear, which can eventually cause them to need to be replaced. Generally, though, the restorations on top of dental implants last around 15 years, potentially longer, before they need to be replaced. That means you shouldn’t have to worry about these types of expenses for a very long time!
4. What are the alternatives to dental implants?
There are several alternative tooth replacement options, including traditional bridges, partial dentures, and full dentures. Traditional bridges consist of one or two false teeth that are bookended by dental crowns. These dental crowns are each placed on the healthy teeth at either end of the gap in your smile, suspending your new prosthetic teeth between them. Partial dentures are used to replace several missing teeth and often consist of prosthetic teeth with an acrylic base that’s designed to blend in with your natural gums. They’re sometimes strengthened using metal wires in the center of the acrylic and are removable, though different types of partial dentures are secured in place using different methods.
If you’ve lost all or most of your teeth on one or both of your arches, full dentures are another way you can replace them. Like partial dentures, full dentures consist of prosthetic teeth set in an acrylic gum material and are removable. When they’re in your mouth, they rely on a combination of their close, custom-made fit and suction to stay in place.
5. What makes dental implants unique?
Dental implants fulfill all the same jobs as other tooth replacement options, but they do their jobs better. Since they’re rooted in your jawbone like a natural tooth, they’re stronger, more secure, and feel more natural. By replacing your tooth roots, implants do far more than simply gain strength and security, though. They also gain a unique ability that no other tooth replacement options can match—they fulfill a tooth root’s job of stimulating your jawbone and keeping it healthy, preventing the bone loss that typically results from losing a tooth. Plus, the titanium metal implants are biocompatible and encourage bone to grow up around them. Bone loss in your jaw can change your face shape over time, causing your jaw to look a little sunken-in, so implants protect the health and strength of your jawbone, as well as the shape of your face.
6. Does insurance cover the cost of dental implants?
The amount your insurance will cover for dental implants depends upon your insurance plan. Some insurance companies cover portions of the procedure cost, some cover it all, and others cover none. Before you commit to any procedure, we’ll always discuss your treatment options with you and help you understand the financial aspect of your treatment. We can estimate how much of your treatment insurance will cover, if any, and what your out-of-pocket cost will be after insurance. We’re also happy to discuss financing options with you to help ensure you can afford the treatment you need and deserve!
7. How long does the surgery take?
Placing dental implants often takes two or three procedures over several months, though sometimes the entire process can be completed in a single procedure. The first and biggest surgery, which is when Dr. Staley places the titanium metal implants in your jawbone, takes an average of one or two hours. Exactly how long it takes will depend upon factors like how many implants you’re getting and how complex your case is. If you’re wondering how long your procedure will take, feel free to ask Dr. Staley for an estimate so you know what to expect!
8. How long does it take to heal from dental implants?
Part of the reason the dental implant process takes so long is the period of time you need to take between each procedure to heal. The most substantial of these healing times is immediately following the first procedure to embed the implants in your jawbone. The bone needs time to grow up and around the implants—a process called osseointegration. This process holds the implants even more securely in place, just like a natural tooth root and generally takes between four and six months. After this, you have the option to receive a second surgery to place the abutments, which are the parts of your implants that secure your tooth restoration in place. This step isn’t always necessary because the abutments are sometimes placed during your first procedure; but, when it’s done separately, the healing process is generally only two weeks. Then you’re ready to receive your new, permanent teeth!
9. What can I eat?
The only time you need to adjust your diet with dental implants is immediately after your procedure. You’ll likely be experiencing some soreness, so sticking to soft foods can be a key factor in minimizing soreness and helping you heal faster. Dr. Staley will give you instructions on what you can and can’t eat following your procedure, but don’t worry—this doesn’t last long! You can generally start returning to your normal diet about two weeks after your implant surgery.
Once your implants are complete, your diet will expand even more because you’ll be able to chew and eat just about anything! Even implant-supported dentures are strong and secure enough that you can eat whatever you want with them without worrying, from tough steak to corn on the cob. You may be able to enjoy foods you haven’t had in years. Plus, your new ability to chew even the toughest foods means that you’ll be able to eat a more varied—and often healthier—diet.
10. What else do I need to know?
The final thing you need to know about getting dental implants in Boise, ID is that it’s always great to ask questions! Dr. Staley will gladly answer any questions you have as you discuss how you want to best preserve your oral health. If you have a lot of questions, feel free to write them down so you don’t forget to ask them all during your consultation! We want you to feel comfortable, confident, and informed about your treatment decisions, so we’re always happy to answer all of your questions.
As you learn more about dental implants, it’s easy to see why they’ve become so popular. They’re versatile and unique, providing lifelong benefits that no other tooth replacement option can. If you’d like to learn more about dental implants in Boise, ID and if they’re right for you, feel free to schedule a consultation with Dr. Staley at any time.