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Dental Implant FAQs

The information below is provided from The Academy of Osseointegration (AO), the world’s leading organization dedicated to the highest standards in patient care, research and education for implant dentistry professionals.

Since dental implants do not decay, is there a need for regular cleaning and dental evaluations?

Tissues around implants are still capable of developing infections. When an infection is only in the gum tissue (peri-implant mucositis/gingivitis), you will typically experience red gums, bleeding during brushing and flossing, and sometimes discomfort. Bone loss does not occur initially but if the infection is not treated and allowed to extend, bone loss (peri-implantitis) can occur that will require surgical intervention and if severe, could require removal of the implant.

Will I have to be put to sleep for my implant(s) to be placed?

Depending on how many implants you are having placed (one or multiple), most patients tolerate the surgical placement of the implants very well with just the use of local anesthesia – a similar numbing injection into your gum tissue that is routinely given for fillings. This is usually performed in the dentist’s office. If you are very anxious about receiving a local anesthetic injection, your dentist may additionally recommend sedation medication.

My dentist told me that I have a failing implant that needs to be removed. What should I do?

Although rare, implant failure may happen due to bone loss around the implant causing infection or mobility to the implant and restoration. In some cases, it should be removed and the defect repaired with a bone graft. In most cases, depending on the procedure and healing, it is possible to place another implant once the graft has healed.

Why do some dental implant patients need bone grafting and others do not?

Once a tooth has been extracted, the bone in the extraction area often starts to decrease in size. This process is call resorption. If someone has worn a denture for some time, the bone loss can be quite extensive. If there is not enough bone for an implant to be placed, implant surgeons can build bone before, or at the time of implant placement, so that an implant can be placed. For the best chance of success, implants should have the most stable bed of jawbone for osseointegration (merging of bone tissue with the surface of the implant).

Why do I have to wait 4-12 months after receiving a bone grafting procedure before I can proceed with my dental implant surgery?

The technology today allows for the implant surgeon to rebuild the lost bone volume that has occurred over time. The type of bone grafting procedure that is recommended, the bone graft materials that are used, and the extent of the defect being treated will determine the length of time required for the healing and hardening of the graft so that an implant can be placed.

Is implant surgery painful?

During the procedure, you will not feel discomfort or pain as you will be given a local anesthetic even if you are sedated. You will be prescribed appropriate analgesics and anti-inflammatory medications to manage any discomfort at home, following the surgery. Most patients experience minimal post-operative discomfort or downtime post-surgery.

How long do dental implants last? Can they last a lifetime?

Through extensive research and advancements in dental implant technology, many dental implant will last a lifetime. Long-term success has been found to be 80-85% for implant function up to 20 years or more. This being said, there can be no guarantee of this occurring as there are multiple factors that could lead to the loss of an implant, such as smoking or lack of good oral hygiene.

What should I expect during an evaluation for dental implants?

During an initial evaluation with your dentist, you will receive a comprehensive exam to be certain that the teeth near the implant area and throughout your mouth are in good health. X-rays will be taken in the office or you may be referred for a 3-dimensional scan known as a CBCT scan for a more detailed image of the area to receive the implant. This is especially important if the implant is being placed in an area of your mouth that is more visible when you speak and smile. From these scans, impressions will be made for study models that are used throughout the implant treatment procedure. Your dentist will discuss your particular oral health issues and present his recommendations for the best course of treatment designed especially for your circumstances.

Is it imperative to have the CBCT scan before implant surgery?

Dental CBCT scans will help both the clinician and the patient in terms of accurate diagnosis, optimal treatment planning, application of the treatment plan and performance of treatment. CBCT scans are commonly performed before treatment planning and are quickly becoming standard protocol in best practice recommendations. The technological advancements in CBCT imaging have allowed a significant reduction in radiation exposure while at the same time improving image quality. Implant dentists are cautious not to expose their patients to unnecessary radiation so this should not be of primary concern to patients considering dental implants.

What would cause an implant to be removed?

A common reason for an implant to require removal is loss of bone around the implant. As well as diminishing bone density around your natural teeth, improper oral hygiene, smoking, poorly controlled diabetes, gum disease, and peri-implant bone disease are some of the contributors to implant failure. Your implant dentist will consult with you about proper care of your implant and recommended oral hygiene and health practices to maximize the success of your implants for many years.

Will my implants look like natural teeth?

With the many advances in dental implant materials, dental implant crowns and bridges will look and function very similarly to your real teeth once they are attached to the implants. Materials are matched in color, size and shape to look like your other teeth and complete your smile in a natural and pleasing way.
What is the timeline for a typical dental implant procedure?

Surgical and treatment timelines can be different for every patient and depend entirely on the specific treatment plan developed by the implant dentist. Not every patient presents the same issues and some patients require more treatment prior to the dental implant insertion. Variables that are taken into consideration include: 1) will a tooth or teeth need to be removed? 2) is there an infection present? 3) does the existing bone require bone grafting or is it strong enough for an implant to be inserted securely? 3) can the implant(s) be placed immediately after the tooth or teeth extraction? We recommend that you consult with your dentist about your individual needs and discuss the best course of treatment for you. Your dentist will consider every option to provide the most successful treatment and ensure long-term success.

Will my insurance cover the cost of the implant and the restorative treatment?

Insurance coverage for dental implants depends on your particular insurance company and policy and there is no general rule about this. Even if your implant treatment is covered by your policy, insurance companies typically cover only a portion of the associated costs of dental implants. As you are considering the overall costs of dental implants, keep in mind that state-of-the-art treatment often lasts 20 years or longer and offers enormous benefits to your oral health, physical health and well-being, improved speaking and chewing capabilities – all providing an overall boost to self-confidence.

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