5 Questions to Ask Your Dentist Before Getting Tooth Implants

Staff WriterLast Updated Sep 15, 2020 11:34:02 AM ET
Dental chair and dentistry tools CC0/Jobbeat/Pixabay

Having a smile with missing teeth can affect your confidence as well as the health of the other teeth in your mouth. Perhaps your dentist has recommended a tooth implant to remedy this problem. Dental implants have a number of benefits, but you shouldn't agree to the procedure until you know more about it and what to expect. Ask your dentist these five questions before getting tooth implants.

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What Are Tooth Implants?

If you're missing a tooth or a series of teeth, you may have problems with chewing or eating. You may also feel uncomfortable with your smile due to gaps in your teeth. A tooth implant is a threaded titanium screw that replaces the root of a missing tooth. Your dentist can then install a cap or crown on the implant to replace the missing tooth. This implant along with the restorative portion mimic the tooth in both appearance and function.

How Long Does It Take to Get Tooth Implants?

Have your dentist walk you through the tooth implant steps. The process for getting a single tooth implant can take as little as 30 minutes with a skilled dentist. More complex surgeries or procedures requiring more than one implant can take several hours. The dentist fuses the implant to the jawbone during the procedure under local or IV anesthesia. Then he installs a temporary bridge or denture over the implant so your teeth appear intact and you have the ability to chew food.

Once the implants have ample time to heal — a process that can several months — the dentist installs a post on the implant and fits you for a cap or crown. In about six weeks, you'll have the final fitting. While none of the appointments take very long or require extended time off from work or regular activities, the entire process may take six to eight months.

What Is the Success Rate for Tooth Implants?

With the advancement in technology and better methods for identifying risk factors prior to surgery, tooth implants have a 95 percent success rate. They've been proven to be safe for anyone whose health allows for the surgical procedure. Care for a tooth implant is the same as care for a natural tooth. With proper hygiene and regular dental checkups, tooth implants can last a lifetime. Even with high success rates, it's important to inquire about the dangers of tooth implants.

Are You Trained to Place Dental Implants?

All dentists are legally allowed to place tooth implants; however, this type of surgery is not a standard part of dental education. Your regular dentist may be willing to place a tooth implant, but that does not mean that he has the training and experience to do so successfully. Ask about your dentist's training and if he's completed a residency program for this procedure. To have the best possible outcome and ensure you're part of the 95 percent success rate, find a dentist or oral surgeon skilled in this practice.

How Much Do Tooth Implants Cost?

As with other dental procedures, tooth implants are a significant investment. The price for implant teeth vary from dentist to dentist, so it's important to know how much of an investment you'll be making before you agree to the procedure. The cost of a single tooth implant is between $2,000 and $5,000. While that seems like a lot, you may end up paying more to deal with issues that arise from having one or more missing teeth in your mouth. Some dental insurance plans partially cover the procedure, so check with your insurance company for a clearer view of the final cost. If you don't have the money to pay for tooth implants upfront, see if your dentist or oral surgeon will work out a payment schedule to spread the cost out over time.