All about dental implants

Replacements for natural teeth and roots, dental implants are a popular and permanent alternative to dentures and bridges. Here's how the process works.

Why implants?

Implants can be used to replace one tooth or many teeth, or even to support a full denture. Implants are anchored into the jawbone, similar to the natural tooth root being replaced. Dentists can place the implant into the socket of the tooth they are extracting or surgically create a space for an implant if a tooth has been missing for some time.

Here are some of the advantages of implants:

• Improve chewing and speech ability
• Restore natural appearance
• Permanent
• 85–90% effective
• Slow down bone loss

How they work

It takes several sessions over the course of several months to properly install dental implants. The process may involve a number of dental professionals, such as an oral surgeon, periodontist, prosthodontist or general dentist with specific training in implants.

1. Your dentist will extract the unhealthy tooth.

2. After your gums heal and the bony socket fills in for 3-6 months, the dentist will do a second minor surgery. Your dentist will install the artificial root, made from titanium, into your jawbone. You will probably wear a temporary crown during this period.

3. Then, a tiny metal post known as an abutment or a connector, is attached to the artificial root. This piece will attach to the crown (replacement tooth).

4. Finally, a crown or a replacement tooth is attached to the connector post.

This series of surgeries can take up to six months. If your tooth was extracted years ago, your dentist may first recommend a bone graft to replace receded bone.

Are implants for you?

As long as you’re in good health, have healthy gums and enough bone structure to support the implant, you may be a good candidate for dental implants. Your dentist will do an assessment to determine if implants are a good fit for you.

To check if your plan covers implants, refer to your plan summary. Or, ask your dentist to submit a pre-treatment estimate. This free service from Delta Dental gives you an idea of how much implants may cost you.