Coastal Connecticut Dentistry
What Is A Dental Implant?
An implant is a titanium "root" which can be placed into the jawbone. Once integrated with your bone, the implant can be used to support a crown, a bridge, or secure a complete denture. Dental implants may be used to eliminate partial plates and dentures. The success rates for dental implants are extremely high which is due in part to the fact that root-form implants are made of a bio-compatible material, titanium. Dental implant treatment represents a slightly greater investment than conventional treatment; however, the benefits of implant therapy for most patients outweigh the minor additional cost involved.
Restored self-esteem and renewed self-confidence. Our patients who now enjoy the benefits of their new implant-supported replacement teeth talk openly about their restored self-esteem and confidence as a result of a younger appearance, ability to eat the foods they want, increased comfort, and improved overall health.
Improved appearance. Since implants preserve bone, preventing deterioration of the facial structures and appearance is improved. When all the natural teeth are severely compromised or missing, there is nothing left in the jawbone to stimulate bone growth. The body senses that the jawbone is no longer necessary and begins to dissolve it away. This results in facial collapse.
After about ten years, it often becomes difficult to wear a denture because there is little bone left to support it. This results in the lips folding in, and the lower face shriveling up (witches chin) with wrinkles around the mouth making you look like a much older looking person. With dental implants, the appearance of these wrinkles caused by posterior bite collapse or complete facial structure collapse are virtually eliminated.
Remove the embarrassment factor. Implant-supported replacement teeth never have to come out, not for daily cleaning, not for home care hygiene maintenance (brushing and flossing), nor even during a hospital visit or other medical exam. They are permanent. Just like your new smile.
The mouth is restored as closely as possible to its natural state. By replacing the entire tooth, including the root, it is possible to replicate the function of natural teeth with a strong, stable foundation that allows comfortable biting and chewing. In addition, nothing in the mouth looks or feels artificial. Dental implants are the closest thing we have to our natural teeth.
Your smile is improved when replacement teeth look more like natural teeth. Even when only one tooth is missing, long term aesthetics are usually much better with an implant-supported replacement tooth than with a traditional tooth-supported bridge. This is particularly important in the front of your mouth, where preventing a visible bone defect is critical for natural appearance.
Healthy adjacent teeth are not destroyed to replace missing teeth. Tooth replacement with traditional tooth-supported bridges requires grinding down the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth/teeth, so that the bridge can be cemented onto them and into place. This tooth structure can never be replaced and the long-term health of these "prepared" teeth is compromised. Partial dentures have clasps that hook onto adjacent teeth, putting pressure on the adjacent teeth as the partial rocks back and forth. Eventually these teeth can loosen and fail as a result of this unnatural pressure. Replacing missing teeth with implant-supported crowns/bridges does not involve the adjacent natural teeth, so they are not compromised, damaged or destroyed.
Overall quality of life is enhanced with replacement teeth that look, feel and function like natural teeth. With implant-supported replacement teeth, the appearance of the smile is more natural and the teeth function more like natural teeth. The result is increased comfort and confidence when smiling, speaking, and eating. If dentures and partials are replaced with implant-supported teeth, the overall enhancement in quality of life is even more significant, with an ability to eat all types of foods, elimination of messy adhesives, and improved speech, comfort and appearance.
If removable dentures and partials are replaced with implant-supported fixed bridges, the overall enhancement in quality of life is even more significant.
- Your eating habits will improve
- Messy and potentially toxic adhesives used to hold dentures in place are eliminated
- Unsightly destructive metal clasps common with partial dentures, which tend to damage adjacent teeth and gums are now non-existent.
Failing teeth can cause other health issues. It is well documented that periodontal disease is a bacteria-induced chronic infection and inflammatory disease that does not resolve by itself. Unchecked, inflammation and infection contributes to heart attacks, strokes, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases. Dentists and cardiologists have long known that neglecting your teeth can lead to more than just a toothache. Scientific studies indicate there is a link between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease. It has been shown that improving poor oral health can actually improve your overall health.
Convenient oral hygiene. Caring for an implant-supported crown is the same as caring for natural teeth; however, it is one of the most frequently overlooked ingredients in implant success. It is recommended that you request an appointment to have regular dental check-ups and get annual x-rays to make sure the surrounding bone is supporting the implant correctly and to discuss and questions or current concerns you may have. These periodic visits will help keep your replacement teeth healthy for many years to come.
In order to place an implant, a couple of steps must be taken:
1) An incision is made into the gums using very precise measurements, then using a very small drill, the jawbone is given a "tap" that will allow the implant to be placed. After the implant is screwed into place, the gums are closed up and the healing process begins. This process can take approximately three to six months to ensure the implant has fused with the bone and created a sturdy base for the new teeth.
2) When the implant is ready, an abutment is attached to the implant, which allows for a new crown to be placed or a denture to be attached.
Single Tooth Implant
Do you have missing teeth? It is critically important to replace missing teeth. Eating and chewing with missing teeth can sabotage your bite and lead to incessant discomfort. Missing teeth can give rise to a mouth rearrangement that often results in facial changes that look decrepit. If a tooth is missing or has been extracted for any reason, a single implant can be used to replace the missing tooth. The implant is placed into the bone of the jaw and acts as the new tooth root. After the bone has healed over the implant, an abutment can be placed on the implant and a crown can then be attached. This method of tooth replacement looks and feels like natural teeth.
Multiple Tooth Implants
Multiple tooth implants may be placed if you need or desire to permanently replace an extracted or lost tooth. Titanium implant bases are placed into the jawbone to replace the job of the tooth roots. We allow a period of time to allow for the jawbone to heal over the bases before fitting for a crown. Next, abutments are screwed into the bases of the implants to allow crowns to be attached. Finally, custom fabricated crowns are placed over the abutments and will function like a real tooth.
Full Arch Implants
In many circumstances, all of the upper or lower remaining teeth need to be removed due to advanced periodontal disease and/or dental decay. One approach is a full upper or lower plate; however, this treatment modality is not recommended. The treatment of choice is to replace the upper or lower teeth with caps that are in place permanently and supported by dental implants. A common goal of treatment is to have (12 teeth caps) supported by 8 implants. The 4 caps that are not supported by the implants are connected to adjacent implant-supported caps. With this optimal approach, the maximum amount of bone is preserved.
Dental Implant FAQs
What is a dental implant?
Implants are a tooth replacement option that involves placing a new "root" into the bone of your jaw. Once this titanium "root" has infused with your bone, it can be used to support a crown, bridge, or denture. These implants can also be used to replace partials and other forms of dentures. The success rates for dental implants are extremely high. This is due in part to the fact that root-form implants are made of a bio-compatible material, titanium. Because titanium is accepted so well by the human body, it is also used for orthopedic implants, such as hip and knee replacements. Dental implants have now become the standard for replacing older dentistry and missing teeth because they look and feel like your natural teeth, and have a higher success rate than all other forms of tooth replacement. The initial cost is generally higher for an implant over other forms of tooth replacement, but the long-term benefits easily outweigh the difference in additional cost. An investment in implant dentistry is an investment in overall health, appearance and well being, as it involves preserving the integrity of facial structures, as well as replacing missing teeth.
Why are dental implants the best option?
Dental implants can last a lifetime, unlike bridges, partials and dentures that may need to be replaced several times. Unlike bridges, partials and dentures, a dental implant replaces the lost tooth root, which will prevent jaw bone resorption that occurs with bridges, partials and dentures. The loss of tooth roots will cause a change of the smile and contours of the face over time. A bridge, once the common single-tooth replacement method, requires the alteration of each neighboring healthy tooth, which is cut down and shaped to accept a crown. With a dental implant treatment, there is no compromise to adjacent teeth. The lost root and crown is replaced leaving neighboring healthy teeth in place. Removable partials connect to healthy teeth by hooks. Partials may be removed for cleaning and may need to be replaced often. A partial hook connected to healthy teeth will create tooth stress and will loosened the healthy teeth over time. Full arch dentures and partials have the added disadvantage of accelerating the bone resorption process, which, among other things, causes the appearance of premature aging.
How will my teeth look and feel?
A single tooth supported by an implant is like turning back the clock of time. The implant replaces the natural tooth root so the jaw bone and supportive gum tissue is as vibrant as ever. Multiple single implants may support single teeth or an implant-supported bridge. Dental implants may also support the base for full arch dentures to attach to which provides the look, feel and function of natural teeth. Dental implant treatments is the only tooth replacement solution that prevents jaw bone resorption, which can cause your smile to look unnatural and in some cases, change your facial appearance. The long-term aesthetics of dental implants are superior to any other treatment option.
Am I a candidate for dental implant treatment?
If you are missing one or more teeth and in general good health, you are a candidate for dental implant treatment. There are a few qualifying factors that need to be addressed:
- Quality and quantity of available bone for implant placement.
- Uncontrollable diabetes or other medical conditions.
Overall, there are very few conditions that would keep someone from having implant treatment. Even people who have lost a significant amount of bone can qualify for dental implant treatment; although, an additional procedure(s) to add bone or to create new bone may be necessary. Advances in this type of treatment have made it possible for most people who would not previously have been considered candidates to have successful implant treatment.
Is my age a factor for dental implant treatment?
Providing your overall health is good, there is really no age restriction. The desire to improve your quality of life is frankly a more important consideration than age. It is not unusual for people with dentures to upgrade to implant-supported dentures. It provides a renewed self-confidence in their smile and speech. It also provides renewed chewing stability, plus it brings back foods into their life that were once off limits.
How long will it take to complete treatment?
Traditional treatment may take anywhere from several weeks to several months, depending upon the quality of the bone in which the implants are placed. If an additional procedure is required in order to augment the bone, the total treatment time may be between six to nine months. Some implant candidates may qualify for Immediate Load / Immediate Function procedures, also known as "same day implants."
Is a dental implant procedure painful?
Most implant patients report that the discomfort is far less than they expected and is no more remarkable than having a root canal or like having a tooth extracted. Of course you are anesthetized during the procedure; and although everyone's pain tolerance is different, most patients are very comfortable simply taking over-the-counter analgesics afterward.
How long do dental implants last?
Dental implants are designed to be permanent; however, there are a few factors that may contribute to the long-term success of dental implant treatment, such as the original quality of the surgical and restorative treatment, proper home care and regular check-up visits to your dentist or dental specialist. Dental implant treatment is one of the most successful procedures in the medical/dental field, with documented success rates over 95%. Dental implants have been around for over 30 years and have closely documented clinical research that demonstrates that dental implants will be successful throughout the lifetime of a patient. By comparison, research also demonstrates that the average tooth-supported bridge (conventional dentistry) lasts from 7-10 years and that partials and dentures are functional for approximately 5 years before having to replace the appliance.
Can a dental implant work with existing dentures?
Every patient's situation is unique; however, from time to time, we can use an existing denture by altering the denture to accommodate the necessary denture attachments to fit the implants.
What is the difference between a traditional crown and bridge and an implant-supported crown and bridge?
There are several differences:
- A dental implant preserves jaw bone.
- We do not have to destroy neighboring healthy teeth by grinding down the teeth to pegs in order to accept a crown.
- Implants last longer than a traditional crown and bridge. Implants are designed to last a lifetime, while a traditional crown and bridge is projected to last approximately 10 years and may need to be replaced.
Although dental implants have become the standard of care, they are more expensive than old tooth replacement methods. They are a better choice for the money; however, some dentists still recommend traditional tooth-supported bridges for patients due to their own comfort level or when patients insist on having the immediate lowest possible fee for tooth replacement. Most dentists today detest the idea of grinding down perfectly healthy teeth to place a traditional bridge; and therefore, will almost always recommend dental implant treatment in these cases.
When should a tooth be extracted and replaced with a dental implant?
There are times when it makes sense to extract a tooth and replace it with a dental implant.
- If a natural tooth is failing or about to fail.
- If a tooth has severe periodontal disease (gum disease) that has eroded the bone that supports the teeth. Sometimes in these cases, it is preferable to extract the teeth, eliminate the disease and infection, and replace the teeth with a dental implant.
- When a tooth has had a root canal (nerves have been removed from the tooth) leaving the tooth brittle and susceptible to fracture. Teeth with severe fractures are usually extracted and are ideal candidates for replacement with dental implant treatment.
Do dental implants require special care?
Home care for a single tooth dental implant or for a crown and bridge dental implant is cleaned like a natural tooth, with regular brushing, flossing and regularly scheduled hygiene appointments as directed by your dentist. Home care is a little more complicated for people who are missing all of their teeth, in that special brushes and floss are often recommended. Permanently fixed implant-supported replacement teeth are cleaned like all other bridges. If a surgical specialists who placed the implant(s) is involved, they may want to see you at least once each year in addition to your regular dentist. These visits, combined with proper home care, are essential to the long-term success of implant treatment.
What is the cost of dental implant treatment?
The actual cost of dental implant treatment is based on a number of factors, such as the number of missing teeth being replaced, the type of implant-supported teeth (treatment option) recommended and whether additional procedures are necessary to achieve the proper aesthetic and functional result. The only way to accurately estimate the cost for an individual patient is to have an examination and consultation with your dental specialist. The total fee is usually comparable to other methods of tooth replacement; however, long-term implant treatment is generally more cost effective than other options, such as bridges, partials and dentures that need to be replaced every 5-10 years.
Is dental implant treatment covered by my insurance?
Dental insurance coverage of implant treatment depends on your individual policy. Dental benefits are determined by the amount an employer is willing to spend on the policy. Generally, dental policies cover basic routine preventive maintenance, basic care and emergencies. Most insurance plans only cover the basics with an annual maximum allowable benefit of $1,000-$1,500. Most insurance plans do not include dental implant coverage; however, often they will pay the same benefit they would cover for the lowest cost alternative treatment option (partials and dentures) and some of the diagnostic records, if a specific request is made for alternative benefits. You should review your dental insurance plan and your medical insurance plan to see the coverage available to you. Medical coverage is very rare and Medicare does not cover implant treatment. All in all, it is best to assume that there is no medical insurance coverage available.
Our office provides smile makeovers to achieve the beautiful, natural look you seek. We can reshape your natural teeth to make them straighter or more youthful in appeal. Our offices is easily accessible and makes it convenient to those living near Waterford to get the care they deserve.
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