Have you ever wondered what a Dental Implant is and what is its purpose? A Dental Implant is a long term alternative to a Dental Bridge. Dr. Yarbrough has been placing Dental Implants for over 10 years. He completed an Implantology Preceptorship at University of Texas San Antonio Health and Science and has worked with several different implant systems and procedures. The purpose of a Dental Implant is to replace a missing tooth, increase chewing power and aesthetically improve one’s smile. Depending on whether or not a patient is a candidate for a dental implant, implants are a great alternative to a dental bridge. With proper maintenance and regular examinations and cleaning, dental implants can have a success rate up to 97%.
A Dental Implant is a titanium fixture that is placed in the jaw bone to act and resemble the root of a tooth. After several months of Osseo Integration, the implant is used as an anchor to hold a fixed tooth- like restoration called a crown or cap.
Over the years, Dental Implants have slowly replaced the placement of Dental Bridges. A dental bridge conceptually is the same as a Dental Implant because it is used to replace a missing tooth. The biggest difference is a dental bridge involves 2 other teeth and in most cases, teeth that do not have any issues, which means we have to drill on virgin teeth, teeth that do not necessarily have decay or need a restoration. The Dental Bridge, bridges the gap between the two anchor teeth and the missing tooth. Dental Bridges act as one unit. Disadvantages are: difficulty flossing, having to drill on virgin teeth and lower success rate as almost all Dental Bridges will need to be replaced at some point. The advantage of a dental bridge vs. a Dental Implant is cost, most insurances will cover part of the cost of a dental bridge where as they will more than likely not any of the cost of a Dental Implant.
A Dental Implant achieves the same thing a dental bridge does; it replaces the missing tooth, increases chewing power, and helps maintain opposing teeth’s health and position. The difference between the dental bridge and Dental Implant is the Dental Implant only replaces the missing tooth, there is no drilling on virgin teeth, the success rate is up to 97%, and the procedure is simple and less invasive. The disadvantages to a Dental Implant is cost and it is a less than immediate solution as an implant has to Osseo Integration and heal before it is loaded with the dental restoration (crown). Most insurances do NOT cover the cost of a Dental Implant, however most will cover the cost of the restoration or crown.
When making a decision about a Dental Implant vs. Dental Bridge consider: longevity vs. short term. It is more than likely you will have to have your dental bridge replaced at some point, which will increase your cost significantly down the road. Whereas Dental Implants rarely have to be replaced, they have a higher success rate and are affixed in the jaw bone, you can floss an implant as if it were a regular tooth, if in fact it does fail, you only replace one tooth as opposed to 3 on a Dental Bridge. When a dental bridge fails you have to replace the entire bridge so from a cost perspective, a Dental Implant is your best solution long term.
Dental Implants require very little maintenance but to increase your success rate there are things you can do to help maintain the life of an implant.
When a Dental Implant is placed there is a window of healing time that needs to take place in order to ensure the success of your Dental Implant. 4-6 months is appropriate healing time for almost all Dental Implants as it needs to Osseo Integrate (integrate into the jaw bone). Post-operative pain is very minimal; most individuals do not feel any pain after Dental Implant placement.
Most dental insurances do not cover Dental Implants, however most insurances will partially cover the crown or restoration that is placed on the Dental Implant.
Not only can a Dental Implant replace missing teeth it can also be used to anchor removable dentures. Basically what this means is a number of Dental Implants are placed in the jaw bone acting as anchors; once they have healed or Osseo Integrated, snaps or buttons are embedded in the denture which then allow the denture to clip/snap into the Dental Implant fixtures. This gives individuals more chewing power with their dentures and also keeps the dentures in place.