What Are Dental Implants: Complete Guide

Dr. Ash Sagar

Dental implants are a popular choice for replacing missing teeth. They can be made with different materials, depending on each patient’s needs and preferences. The most common dental implant material is titanium, proven to be durable and safe over many years of studies.

They can be used for both front and back teeth, and they’re easy to maintain with regular dental visits. Your dentist will make sure that you get the best possible fit for your mouth and that it looks natural in your smile.

In this blog post, we’re going to go over everything about dental implants. Moreover, we’ll discuss the different types, their cost and compare them with other solutions like dentures or bridges. We will also answer some frequently asked questions about the procedure, so read on if you want all the information before getting an appointment with a dental professional.

Dental implants are small metal rods that replace the roots of missing teeth. They serve as an anchor for the replacement tooth and integrate with bone to create a sturdy foundation. The dental implant placement procedure is typically carried out under general anaesthesia since they are surgically placed in the jawbone.

They fuse with your existing bone structure over time, creating a more robust natural support system than temporary dentures or bridges. They’re typically made of titanium, which is strong enough to withstand chewing forces and lasts for years without the need for replacement.

They can replace one tooth or many if they have trouble chewing, speaking, or breathing because of missing teeth. These durable restorations work more like natural teeth than traditional dentures to offer long-lasting results that also look fantastic. Unlike traditional dentures or removable partial dentures, you won’t need to remove them at night. They can be permanently attached to your mouth. 

Two Types Of Dental Implants

Endosteal Implant

Though there are several implant types, the endosteal form is by far the most common. The titanium screw is surgically implanted into the jaw bone. It fuses with natural bone as it heals, providing the jawbone with stability.

Subperiosteal Implant

Advances in orthodontics have led to the development of new implant devices such as subperiosteal implants. This method is exceptionally rare. They could be a more suitable option for patients with adequate natural jawbone mass to support endosteal implants.

A subperiosteal implant is placed beneath the gum tissue or above the jawbone but not inserted into it.

Want to learn more? Read our detailed guide: Different Types Of Dental Implants

Why Get Dental Implants

Dental implants are changing the way people live. The ability to eat a full diet is also a reason that people pursue dental implants.

The best thing about dental implants is that it gives you a feeling of confidence in your smile that isn’t possible with other treatments that look unnatural in the mouth. Therefore, they are great alternatives to dentures. In addition to looking like natural teeth, they also feel and function just as well. With an implant, you will never be embarrassed about smiling or eating in front of people again because these devices are strong enough to withstand biting pressure.

Unlike conventional bridgework, implants preserve your natural tooth health by avoiding the need to trim down adjacent teeth to support the dental appliance. As they are secured, it is unlikely to become loose or move like dentures often do.

Aside from the aesthetic benefit, they help preserve bone structure and prevent the shifting of remaining natural teeth. Moreso, it has the highest success rate of all other tooth replacement treatments. Therefore, this makes dental implants more cost-effective in the long run.

Benefits of Dental Implants

Different Types Of Dental Implants

Single-Tooth Implant

Replacing a single missing tooth with dental implants is an excellent way to restore functionality, comfort, and aesthetics. The surgical procedure requires just one crown that attaches to an implanted screw for stability and strength.

Implant-Supported Bridge

A dental bridge is a fixed dental restoration that gives you the freedom to chew, speak, and smile with confidence. 

Patients with several missing teeth no longer have to worry about teeth replacement. An implant-supported bridge could be a reliable option since it serves as an anchor and supports the bridge instead of the natural teeth. Moreover, it also hinders other teeth from shifting.

All-on-4 Dental Implants

All-on-4 implants are permanent and long-term solutions for patients with multiple missing teeth. This dental implant treatment restores the patient’s complete upper or lower jaw or both arches with as few as four titanium screws surgically placed in the bone. Furthermore, the overdenture can be removed for cleaning and during a dental checkup but will be replaced afterwards.

It can fix a range of problems, from facial symmetry issues to discomfort caused by missing teeth and jaw alignment disorders or muscle tension-related pain.

3-On-6 Dental Implants

Three on six dental implants are performed by attaching three separate dental bridges to six individual dental implants. This procedure is comparable to the traditional bridge but uses artificial teeth roots as support rather than natural teeth.

The method is optimal for full-mouth reconstruction, as it promotes natural tooth function by equally dispersing bite forces. It’s an alternative to all-on-4 dental implants. Moreover, it enhances the aesthetic appeal of our mouth by not having synthetic gums.

Dental Implants Procedure

Some people are not medically healthy enough to get dental implants. You need optimum bone levels without chronic health problems, like inflammation, for a dental implant to heal properly.

Immunocompromised individuals with cancer, HIV/AIDS, or other autoimmune deficiencies need to discuss the feasibility of this treatment with their dental practitioner.

Preparation

Your dentist can determine whether you are a good candidate for dental implants by examining your mouth during the initial consultation. 

This procedure will include a clinical evaluation and advanced digital imaging. The dentist will also look into your medical history. You’ll also discuss any additional surgery that might be needed, such as a bone graft or sinus augmentation to ensure sufficient bone mass to support the implant.

 

A treatment plan for dental implants may involve a variety of specialists:

  • A dental surgeon who specializes in conditions relating to the face, mouth, and jaw.
  • A periodontist who specializes in treating gums and bones.
  • A prosthodontist who designs and fits false teeth.
  • Sometimes an ENT specialist.

If your jawbone is too thin or weak to support dental implants, you may need bone grafting before the dental surgery. The powerful chewing action of your mouth exerts intense pressure on your bone. If it cannot sustain an implant, then the oral surgery would not likely succeed. A bone graft could create a solid base for the implant to be inserted. However, it may take three to twelve months for a transplanted bone to grow sufficient new bone to sustain a dental implant.

Suppose you need a tooth extraction before the dental implant surgery. It will take up to two months to completely heal and have your implant surgery date. However, in some rare cases, the tooth removal and placement of an artificial tooth root may happen on the same day.

Placing the Implant

The dentist will administer local anesthesia for most patients, and you will remain numb and comfortable throughout your procedure. However, some patients prefer to use nitrous oxide or general anesthesia for dental anxiety.

Dental implants require surgery wherein your oral surgeon makes an incision in your gums to expose the bone. Holes are drilled into the bone, and the dentist will insert the metal post. After which, the gum tissue around it will be sutured to allow the healing process. It will then serve as the artificial teeth roots for your crown. In addition, the healing time may take between four to six months.

Installing the Abutment

Once osseointegration is complete, minor surgery will be done to install the abutment for your crown. It is the piece that attaches to your implant, where the fake tooth will be placed securely. This minor surgery is often done with local anesthesia and is usually an outpatient procedure.

One problem with this abutment is that it just passes the gum line, which means it’s visible if you open your mouth. It will be the case until your tooth prosthesis is fitted.

After the abutment is attached, roughly two weeks for the gums to heal, and the artificial tooth will be fitted.

Fitting the Crown

After your gum heals, the dentist will take impressions of your mouth and teeth. The mould will be used to make the natural-looking dental crown. However, your jawbone needs to be strong enough before the new tooth is placed. 

When choosing an implant tooth, matching the colour of your crown to your original teeth helps in achieving a more natural-looking smile.  

Want to learn more? Read our detailed guide: Dental Implants Procedure: What You Need To Know

Who Can Perform Dental Implant Surgery

A licensed dentist can perform an implant surgery as long as they’re following the standard of proper care and preserve the patient’s best interest.

However, dentists who routinely perform surgery on the jawbone are best qualified for implant placement.

Oral Surgeons

Dental implants are often placed by an oral surgeon who has undergone four years of training with a strong specialization in complex surgical procedures, including dental implants. They can also sedate their patients when necessary to make sure that they’re comfortable throughout the operation.

Periodontist

The periodontist’s responsibilities include surgical and non-surgical treatment of patients with gum diseases and preventative care for patients at risk of developing such conditions, which leads to tooth loss if not correctly treated.

They can offer high-quality dental services with advanced treatments for gum problems. Moreover, the training of a periodontist is unmatched when it comes to placing an implant since they focus more on that and gum health.

Prosthodontists

Prosthodontists nowadays are capable of more than just repairing and replacing teeth. They can use cosmetic dentistry procedures such as porcelain veneers or dental implants to enhance the appearance of your smile.

They perform treatments for various dental problems, ranging from simple bridge repairs to more complicated reconstructive care of patients who have been affected by some oral trauma.

Endodontists

Endodontists are specialists who carry out specific dental procedures to deal with tooth loss. It includes things like root canal therapy, tooth extractions and post-core dental implants. These professionals also diagnose traumatic injuries to the mouth or teeth.

These dentists are also trained in the field of atraumatic extractions and implants as restoration treatment. They also undergo special training to perform endodontic therapy because it is often needed to treat patients with tooth decay or other problems.

General Dentists

Though dentists are qualified and competent to do dental service, they may not have the same training and experience as specialists do. Most general dentists prefer to focus on their strengths and consequently don’t perform specialized methods outside of their expertise.

When a patient needs complex, typically multi-step dental work, the initial dentist may not provide the care. Still, it is common for them to refer patients to other specialists when they are not qualified to diagnose or treat the patient’s dental needs.

Want to learn more? Read our detailed guide: Who Can Perform Dental Implants

Cost of Dental Implants

The cost of dental implants in Australia is generally relatively high. Treatment can be expensive because it involves major surgery and other procedures. 

These costs are related to complexity, type of implant, materials used, and location of the dental clinic. Further, how much a tooth costs depends on which tooth needs to be replaced and how many are required. Replacing a front tooth is often marginally more expensive than replacing an implant at the back of the mouth.

How Much Does a Dental Implant Cost for One Tooth

Single dental implants in Australia typically range from $3,000 – $6,500.

The national survey in 2017 showed that the average price per tooth is around $5,563, so you’ll probably have to pay at least this much upfront too.

How Much Is an All-On-4 Dental Implant?

The average cost for an All-on-4 dental implant ranges between $23,000 to $27,000 per fixed arch.

How Much Does It Cost to Get Full Mouth Dental Implants

The cost of a full mouth reconstruction ranges from $36,000 – $40,000.

Do Health Insurance Cover Dental Implants?

For many Australians, a dental implant is the best way to replace one or more missing teeth. In some cases, it may be covered under their health insurance plan by an Australian company such as HBF, HCF BUPA and Medibank who cover major dental procedures.

Major dental typically includes complex procedures such as braces, crowns, wisdom teeth extraction/removal (sometimes including root canal) etc. Still, many companies provide these services under “higher extras” covers where patients generally pay a higher premium.

Read Our Detailed Guide About Cost of Dental Implants in 2021

Factors that Can Affect the Cost of Dental Implants

Although dental implants can be the best option for replacing missing teeth, many patients are hesitant because of the high cost. As the dental implant process is an elective procedure and not usually covered by dental insurance plans, many people have difficulty affording these procedures.

Many different factors influence the cost of dental implants, so it’s essential to know these before your procedure.

Materials and Components

Titanium is the most common material used for metal implant posts because they fuse well with your bones. They are also bio-compatible, meaning they will not cause irritation nor get rejected by the body.

Although titanium screws are stable and safe for most patients, they may not be an option in some instances. Those with metal allergies and sensitivities may opt for dental ceramic implants. However, this will affect the price of dental treatment.

The Number of Implants Required

Tooth implants are a costly investment with varying rates depending on the number of teeth in need and whether you will be receiving one or multiple implants.

A person with only one or two missing teeth may only need a partial prosthesis for restoration. However, a complete set of implants is necessary to achieve optimal oral health in most people, dramatically increasing the total cost.

Bone Augmentation

If your tooth was removed more than a year ago, it is possible you might experience bone loss. Without the tooth root to stimulate bone growth and keep it healthy, your jaw will gradually deteriorate.

The person undergoing the procedure might need additional bone grafting if they don’t have enough healthy bone, which can prolong their recovery time.

Tooth Extraction

Tooth extraction can occur without much fuss or stress if it is a simple extraction. In some cases, an implant may be placed on the same day as your tooth extractions if it is needed. However, more complicated issues will make the treatment more costly and put the implant placement back a few weeks or months.

In many cases, basic dental procedures such as tooth extraction are paid for by your dental insurance policy.

Dental Implants FAQ's

Before they start, the dentist will numb your mouth with a local anesthetic, so you’ll feel nothing as they drill or put in your implant. However, you might feel some discomfort from the pressure on the jaws. Your dentist will prescribe medications to handle any pain when the anesthetic wears off so you could manage discomfort.

Rarely, some patients experience significant discomfort after surgery. The pain is usually related to either a poorly fitted implant that has not healed into the skin around it properly or from an infection. Commonly, those infections are treated with antibiotics. Most people find the recovery from surgery not as painful as they anticipated.

Generally, patients who have dental implants report feeling discomfort under the eye and in the chin and cheeks area. Still, they unanimously agree that the outcome is worth it.

Implant placement offers a stable and long-term solution that has no negative impact on your health; however, its results depend on numerous factors.

Part of getting dental implant surgery in Australia is ensuring qualified, and experienced professionals are operating accordingly. Dental implants are commonplace and well-regulated since the regulations are stricter regarding hygiene and materials used.

Dentists have been installing dental implants for over 30 years now, and they’re a very safe procedure. Moreover, installing implants has become even more efficient over time due to advancements in modern technologies.

It’s been said that getting dental implants is one of the safest procedures. However, there are always risks involved in any invasive procedure. However, the chance for complications following this type of surgery is infrequent.

Dental implants are a long-termed solution to tooth loss. They will last for 15–20 years on average, with implant success rates reported anywhere from 90% to 95%.

Implants are one of the most successful restorations we offer and can be expected to last for decades. We see many older patients who have been living with them for their entire adult life without complications or removal. They are not indestructible, though; excessive force or trauma against the tooth can cause it to break, just as it would any other natural tooth. Other issues such as gum disease will affect an implant just like a natural tooth, so maintaining good oral health will provide you with many years of comfort.

Getting a dental implant is one of the best investments you can make in your oral health. With dental implants, you and your dentist play essential roles in the success of the treatment. The success or failure of the implant is dependent on each party’s skills and cooperation.

Dentists should always be cautious when performing any dental procedure that requires a high level of precision and skill, which is why it’s essential to find an experienced dentist. Potential complications might arise at any stage of the dental implant procedure, so it is vital to choose an experienced surgeon for it to be successful. 

The following are the signs of a failed dental implant. 

  • Trouble chewing 

When there is pain or sensitivity when biting, it may be caused by an infection or the implant has not achieved complete and successful bonding with your jaw bone. 

  • Infection

Peri-implantitis is a severe condition that, if left untreated, could cause the loss of dental implants. More severe cases can cause bleeding and pus to form in addition to swelling; more advanced cases can lead to bone loss. Due to the rapid progression of symptoms, people with prior aggressive periodontal disease are especially susceptible to this infection. 

  • Gum recession 

If a dental implant doesn’t fit well, it will likely lead to gum recession, often irreversible. Poor positioning of the implants may put unnecessary stress on your gums and bone tissue.

The implant’s failure may be signified by an abnormally long crown, after which you will feel pain in the surrounding tissue.

To achieve the proper placement, your surgeon must ensure that it is positioned correctly by using digital dental implant diagnostics. 

  • Swollen gums

 It is not uncommon to have pain or swelling after this type of procedure. Still, it can become a more significant issue if the pain persists and becomes inflamed.

Swollen and red gums are a sign of an infection. If inflammation remains untreated, it can lead to other more severe health conditions such as blood infections. A serious illness that becomes severe if left untreated

Fighting a severe infection can be difficult if the pain is intense; therefore, it’s crucial to treat the swelling early on. If the swelling lasts longer than expected, contact your dentist as soon as possible.

  • Implant getting loose

Many people who have had a dental implant typically don’t notice anything different. When everything goes well, you may not even be aware that the tooth in your mouth is an artificial one.

When you feel that your implant is wiggling when speaking, eating or touching, it’s a sign that something may be wrong. It could have cracks or loose attachments that might need to be evaluated by the dentist for them to make an appropriate diagnosis. So if this happens, please contact your dental practitioner for an appointment so it can be attended to immediately.

Ignoring poorly fitted dental implants can lead to terrible consequences and cause damage to the jawbone and surrounding gums. 

  • Experiencing extreme pain or discomfort

Pain is a common feeling during dental implant surgery. However, the pain might also signify that your new teeth are not working as they should, so it is essential to watch for other signs like swollen tissue or an increase in bleeding when you brush and floss near the implant site.

As your implant progresses through the healing process, you should expect pain. It can usually be managed with over-the-counter medicine prescribed by a doctor.

If your implant fails, you’ll be in intense pain. This type of failure could cause prolonged agony for days. If this happens to you, make sure you visit the dental office right away.

Infection: To maintain your dental implant, follow the post-op instructions from a dentist. It is vital to have good oral hygiene because infections can cause unnecessary pain and complications.  

Incomplete osseointegration: Dental implants are vital for the long-term oral health of a patient and will only work if they fuse with your bone. If this fails to happen, then you may have to go through the procedure again when that area heals. 

Nerve damage: Sometimes, a dental implant is placed too close to your nerve. It can lead to long-term numbness or pain in that part of the mouth since the structure was tremendously affected, such as the blood vessel. 

Implant fracture: Implants are meant to replace your teeth, but they can wear out if excessive forces are placed on them. If the implants do not withstand these pressures, they could break. When that happens, they need to be removed and replaced after a few months.

If you want your dental implant to last, you must stop smoking even before the surgery. Moreover, smoking or chewing tobacco after getting a dental implant can lead to infection, which could hinder the success and reduce the lifespan of your implant.

The decision to replace a tooth is not an easy one. There are many options available, including removable dentures and implants. However, picking the right solution should depend on several factors, such as the price, and the health of your remaining teeth and jawbone 

  • Longevity 

Dental implants are considered better than dentures because they last as long as 15 to 20 years or more. However, the crown is only replaced when needed. While dentures only last between five to eight years.

  • Practicality and Functionality 

Dental implants are an incredible dental tool that offers stability and durability to your mouth. Unlike dentures or other artificial replacements, they provide many functions you would have with your tooth. Once you’ve recuperated from the surgery, patients can chew food just like before and speak usually.

Dentures are an affordable and viable option for those who cannot afford dental implants, but they have drawbacks. Compared to dental implants, dentures are fragile. While there have been significant advances in the development of dentures, they have yet to match the durability of dental implants. It’s also difficult for patients to eat and speak properly as dentures are prone to loosening and slippage over time. Hence, you need to get them relined or replaced repeatedly.

  • Appearance 

A crown on a dental implant is designed to mimic the natural shape and colour of your teeth. Since they look and function like a natural tooth, they prevent a person’s mouth from looking unnatural. For a single tooth replacement, it will be designed to match your existing teeth. If you’re having an entire set of teeth replaced, the dentist will find the perfect size and colour to enhance your appearance.

Modern dentures can be indistinguishable from your natural teeth, and this is especially true if they’re custom-made by a professional. However, it largely depends on what you’re willing to spend. Additionally, dentures don’t prevent bone loss, so your jawline will change over time, which may affect the shape or structure of your face.

  • Comfort 

Titanium implants are fused to your jawbone, and they do not tend to cause any discomfort, which means that they will feel natural and fit well in your mouth. Not only are dental implants the most permanent solution to fix tooth loss, but once your oral surgeon affixes it to your jawbone, you don’t have to worry about them slipping breaking under normal wear-and-tear.

Some dentures are a lot less pleasant to wear. Most patients complain about bulkiness, excessive saliva, soreness, and irritation it caused. Also, you must be wary of the slippage and fragments of food or other substances getting stuck beneath dentures, which may cause discomfort while speaking and eating. Furthermore, traditional dentures should be taken out each night for cleaning.

  •  Cost 

When considering dental implants, expect to invest more when your teeth need a lot of work done before the implant. Procedures such as tooth extractions, gum surgery, and bone augmentation may cost more initially. Still, they increase the stability of your jaw bone. The initial cost for dental implants is higher, but they stand a better chance of being the most cost-effective option in the long term.

The initial price of dentures is cheaper, but the cost of replacements are higher than implant surgery over time, knowing that they need to be replaced every five to eight years. While it may seem like dentures are relatively inexpensive compared to dental implants, they cost more in the long run.

When a tooth is lost, it’s crucial to have a permanent replacement to avoid alignment issues. Dental bridges and implants are two typical choices for replacing teeth.

  • Durability and Longevity

Dental implants present an excellent alternative to traditional tooth replacement. In general, dental implants are stronger and more permanent than dentures or bridges. However, if teeth have been lost for an extended time, the bone and gum have receded, and supplementary dental procedures need to be done before placement to ensure there is enough bone support. 

Dental implants have advantages that provide a lifetime of protection and healthier gums than bridges. Implants are usually made of titanium, which naturally fuses to the jawbone by osseointegration. Impressively durable because it’s made from such strong metal, dental implants also resist tooth decay and gum problems better than bridges do.

Before, when a person has missing teeth, their only option for restoring them is to install a bridge. It requires substantial work on the adjacent teeth as both sides of the gap are treated by removing portions of the enamel to create the bridge.

On average, the life of a dental bridge is ten years. The underlying tooth structure can suffer from decay and gum disease even though the bridge makes it look as if your teeth are perfect.

  • Appearance

Implants can be functionally and cosmetically superior to dental bridges. They are natural-looking as they match the natural colour and shape of the real tooth.

While bridges provide the aesthetic function of an implant, they are not as beneficial as replacing missing teeth with an implant. They work much like ordinary dentures, with the addition of connecting teeth or faux teeth to either side of the missing tooth.

  • Cost

The initial cost of a dental bridge is less than the dental implant, but it has to be replaced at least after ten years of use.

Implants can seem more expensive at first, but in the long run, they are often a cheaper option as they last longer than other tooth-replacement treatments.

The complete healing process for dental implants can take six to eight months. Also, you may not be able to resume your daily routine without assistance until then. Depending on the procedures you underwent, such as bone grafts or sinus lifts, it could take much longer.

Dental implants may be a good solution for those who have lost a tooth or an entire row of teeth, as long as you are healthy with adequate bone mass to support the titanium screw and no gum disease.

Dental implants are a great way to restore your teeth with long-lasting, natural-looking replacements. If you are pondering a dental implant, be sure first to consult your dentist for an assessment. After discussing the pros and cons of the procedure, they can recommend whether it is right for you based on your oral health status.

Final Thoughts

Dental implants are a great way to replace missing teeth and improve your oral health. However, there is still some risk involved in undergoing this procedure. You must research what type of implant will work best for you before committing to surgery. 

We hope you have found this blog post informative and that it has given you some insight into dental implants. If you are still unsure about your options for replacing missing teeth or restoring damaged teeth, contact us at Narre Warren Dental Care.

The Narre Warren Dental Care team is committed to providing the best possible care for our patients, including offering affordable and innovative solutions tailored specifically to your needs. If you would like more information or any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 03 8771 4137. We’d love to hear from you and get started on giving your beautiful smile back.

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Dr. Ash Sagar
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