Dental Implants: Reclaiming Your Missing Teeth

The world of tooth replacement has evolved quite a bit. Whenever you lost a tooth, you’d used to be out of luck, or would have to wear fake that would be uncomfortable and not feel like your real teeth. Nowadays, there are so many more options, and…

The world of tooth replacement has evolved quite a bit. Whenever you lost a tooth, you’d used to be out of luck, or would have to wear fake that would be uncomfortable and not feel like your real teeth. Nowadays, there are so many more options, and dental implants are just one of the many paths you can take.

Dental implants act as replacements for your roots, supporting your new tooth. Your tooth will stay there and won’t move, making you feel like you never lost the tooth in the first place. Also, any teeth nearby won’t need to be worked on to prepare them for your new tooth. However, before you get an implant, here are some questions to ponder.

Dental Implants

How much do dental implants cost?

As with any procedure, the cost is important in determining if implants are right for you. The cost will be determined depending on the individual situation, as well as what dentistry you’re visiting. However, the cost may be around $3,000. For many, that’s quite a lot of money, so make sure you’re getting the best deal for your money.

What about insurance?

There are some insurance plans that offer coverage on dental implants. Talk with your insurance company to see if they offer implant coverage, and if so, how much they cover. Originally, implants were not covered by insurance companies, but more companies are realizing they’re a safer way to restore teeth, so they are getting the coverage they deserve.

Is there anything I need before the implants?

Your gums and bone support must be adequate. Your dentist should determine if implants are right for you. “Adequate gum health is important when determining whether an implant is important,” Dr. Sam Delahunty of Canyon Rim Dental in Salt Lake City said. “Regular check-ups are a good way to keep your gums healthy, along with proper oral hygiene.”

Do they require special care?

Implants need proper oral hygiene just like your ordinary teeth, and you should go to the dentist regularly to make sure the implants are working well.

What about the pain?

The procedure does sound like it could be painful, but dentists have a way of making sure it’s as painless as possible. A local anesthetic will be used to make the operation painless, and while you may experience discomfort after the operation, it’s nothing major. It usually hurts less than removing a tooth, if that says something.

How are the implants applied?

Right now, there are two types of implants.

  1. Endosteal – goes into your jawbone. These are then completed with a post, connected to your first implant, and then the new tooth is placed.
  2. Subperiosteal – where the frame is below the gums, and the posts will come out of your gums. Your dentist should determine what kind of implants you will receive.

Will the teeth look like my old teeth?

Dental technology has gone a long way, and they have created artificial teeth that look exactly like your old, all down to the color. No one will notice that one of your teeth is artificial.

How long do they last?

Through proper care, your implants will last you a lifetime. Your crown may need replacing after 10 years or so, but proper care of that will make it last much longer. With that said, there are some conditions that can cause your implants to rarely fail. These include cancer and diabetes. If you’re a diabetic, talk to your dentist to see if implants are right for you.

What are the risks?

Any long-term risks associated with dental implants are rare, but with any procedure, they are possible. It is possible to get an infection where your implants were placed. Nerve damage and sinus problems can occur, but they are rare. Discuss the risks with your dentist beforehand.

Where do I get started with implants?

As with any procedure, if you think implants are for you, contact your dentist and go in for an evaluation. Your dentist should be able to determine if implants are right for you or not. Just know the risks, be prepared financially, and you should be ready for your mouth to be full again.

Stephen Nozaki, DDS, MPH, DIDIA

Dr. Stephen Nozaki is the owner and lead dentist at Image Dental in Stockton. He is a dedicated professional born and raised in California's Central Valley. With a commitment to his community, he brings advanced dental techniques learned from extensive education and continuous training from around the world. A third-generation Japanese American, Dr. Nozaki has a rich background that includes international living and a deep passion for both dentistry and outdoor activities. His focus in dentistry aligns with his passion for cosmetics and dental implants.