What to Know Before Getting Dental Implants

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There’s no doubt that dental implants can transform your teeth, confidence and self-esteem. However, the procedure isn’t simple, and there are many factors to consider before you invest in implants. Is the procedure necessary? How would it improve your life? What about the long-term impact and any risks? Here’s everything you need to know.

What Are Dental Implants?

Unlike dentures, which need to be removed and cleaned every night, dental implants are permanently attached to the jaw itself. The implants themselves are made of titanium and inserted into where the root of your tooth once was; over time, the bone fuses with the metal to hold it in place. Fake teeth, or crowns, are then attached to the implants either individually or as part of a set, or bridge.

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The crowns that cover front dental implants can also be made with porcelain or ceramic to blend in with your real teeth, while the ones in the back are sometimes made of metal for greater durability. Whichever material you choose, dental implants generally last for life as long as you take care to brush, floss and regularly schedule dental visits.

Eligibility and Success Rates

While most people can have dental implants, there are restrictions. You need to have reasonably healthy gums, no health conditions that could interfere with your jawbone healing, a fully-grown jaw and either sufficient bone mass or the ability to handle a bone graft. You also shouldn’t smoke, and you’ll need to be able to stick in one place, as the process takes several months and multiple procedures.

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There are risks with dental implants, including infection, damage to nearby teeth or blood vessels, nerve damage or sinus problems. Because of this, you’ll be required to undergo a thorough examination as well as a review of your medical history. That said, inserting dental implants is a fairly common procedure that is safe enough to be an outpatient procedure.

Are Dental Implants Covered by Insurance?

Some dentists might accept insurance, but that depends on the practice, insurance provider and the reason you’re having the implants. A single cap can go for anywhere from $1,500 to $6,000 without insurance. Many dentists offer financing options.

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You can make the process of getting dental implants cheaper by either choosing less expensive fake teeth or using temporary or permanent dentures with the implants until you can afford proper crowns or bridges.

What to Expect From the Procedure

Dental implants aren’t added in a single sitting. After being examined by your dental professional, you’ll schedule a later date for the main procedure where the implants are added and any damaged old teeth are removed. (If you need a bone graft, that will have to happen first.) Once the implants are added, you’ll need another six to 12 weeks for your teeth to heal before your caps or bridges can be added.The main procedure is usually done with a localized anesthetic, although a general one may also be used. You may feel groggy or dizzy and experience nausea. You’ll likely need rest afterward and someone to take you home. On top of that, you may experience swelling, bruising, pain and light bleeding.

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It’s advisable to take painkillers if needed as well as any prescribed antibiotics to prevent infections. You’ll need to visit your dentist regularly to ensure your implants are healing well. 

Why Choose Implants Over Dentures?

Dentures are cheaper than dental implants, but they need to be removed nightly and inserted every morning. It’s important to clean them regularly using a special solution, and you may need to avoid sticky or hard foods. Unlike implants, dentures can also damage your jaw bone over time.

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Implants are secured into the mouth, so there’s no need to remove them daily. You can eat any food you like with them, and they won’t slip while you speak. Like ordinary teeth, they mostly just need regular brushing, flossing and periodic visits to the dentist to maintain. The procedure is complex, but the long-term results are worth it.