- What exactly are dental implants?
- How long does the procedure take?
Will it hurt?
- How long will I have to go without teeth?
- How long do the implants last?
- How do the implants look in my mouth?
- How much does implant therapy cost?
- Will insurance help cover the cost of implant therapy?
- Who does the final prosthetic work (i.e. crown(s), bridge(s), and denture(s))?
- Are there any other pros and cons that should be discussed concerning implant therapy versus any other types of treatment?
What exactly are dental implants?
Dental implants are artificial tooth root replacements. Dr. Banda places dental implants in the area of the jaw where the restoring dentist needs roots in order to build a crown, a bridge, or a more secure denture. An implant is not unlike a foundation underneath a house; invisible to the casual observer but necessary for proper support of the final product. Made of titanium metal, implants are completely biocompatible, which means accepted by the body without rejection.
How long does the procedure take?
The duration of the implant placement procedure varies depending on the number of implants being placed. The time could be as little as thirty minutes for one implant or as much as several hours for multiple implants. During that time the patient receives a local anesthetic, and optionally, intravenous (IV) or oral conscious sedation for relaxation purposes.
In terms of total time from the placement of the implant(s) until the placement of the final restoration(s), the time varies depending on several factors. These factors include whether the implants are placed in the upper or lower jaw, the quality of the bone in the jaw, etc. A good basic guideline would be that the implants must settle and bond to the bone for approximately four months for the lower jaw and six months for the upper jaw. After the bonding of the implant has occurred, then the restoring dentist can begin the procedures necessary to make the final crowns, bridges, or dentures. A reasonable time frame from start to finish would be approximately 6 to 9 months with variability based on the individual case.
Will it hurt?
Patients often tell us that the implant placement procedure is far more comfortable than they had originally anticipated. Patients are given a variety of medications to take before the procedure in order to reduce swelling, pain, or potential infection. Dr. Banda will also prescribe a strong pain medication to take after the procedure. However, many patients only need to take one or two of the pain pills, and then they find themselves comfortable within a day or so. Many patients, even after multiple implant procedures in one day, were able to return to work the following day.
How long will I have to go without teeth?
In most cases, you won’t have any time without teeth. We can often provide temporary replacement teeth the same day the implants are placed to allow for proper cosmetic appearance and chewing function. There are some exceptions to this rule, usually involving full denture cases. Some of these patients may spend about five days without a denture during the most critical phase. Most people can expect to leave the office with temporary replacement teeth the same day that Dr. Banda places the implants.
How long do the implants last?
Implants have been phenomenally successful in the vast majority of patients. Proper patient selection and proper technique are a must to ensure a great longevity for the implants. Once implants are placed, patient must make sure to perform regular maintenance. The dental office will provide all the information needed to accomplish this task. Implant success rates of over 96 percent are not uncommon. The small number of failures that have occurred with today's modern implants are with patients who fall into high risk groups such as heavy smokers, diabetics, people with bone diseases, etc. Dr. Banda will run various diagnostic tests and discuss oral habits before he places the implants if any of these conditions are a potential concern. Smokers can enjoy successful implants provided that they refrain from smoking during certain parts of the healing phase. Even implants placed thirty years ago are still in place and servicing the patients who received them. While no one can guarantee the longevity of any dental procedure, with proper patient selection and proper maintenance procedures after implant therapy, patients can expect an excellent prognosis.
How do the implants look in my mouth?
In the vast majority of the cases, you won’t even notice the implants. We attempt to place implants under the gumline in an area where they are completely hidden from view. All that should be visible, most of the time, will be the final prosthetic product such as the crown, bridge, or an overdenture.
How much does implant therapy cost?
It is very difficult, if not impossible, to accurately determine the cost of implant therapy without an individual examination and consultation. Over forty varieties of implants are available for use in oral rehabilitation, and an unlimited number of situations present in the mouths of the patients requiring care. To achieve the best end result, we recommend a meeting with the doctor to discuss your needs, desires, and expectations. Provided that a magnification corrected panorex film is available, Dr. Banda can schedule a complimentary consultation and determine the exact cost of implant therapy for a patient's particular situation. You will receive a complete report of the investment required before beginning implant therapy.
Will insurance help cover the cost of implant therapy?
Yes and no. If the need for implant therapy was created by a motor vehicle accident, certain birth defects, or if a medical problem has been created due to the inability to chew food (i.e. diverticulitis caused by involuntary diet restriction due to severely shrunken jaw bones that will not allow conventional dentures to be worn or worn comfortably enough to chew certain foods), insurance may cover the costs. In recent years, the trend has shifted and insurance companies are beginning to recognize benefits for implants, although each policy is different.
Insurance companies will often provide an alternative benefit for the implant situation. For example, when a patient suffers a vertically fractured tooth and submits a claim for an implant and crown, the insurance company may offer a benefit for a three unit, fixed bridge. A prosthetic benefit may be paid on the prosthetic work after an implant has been placed. This situation has frustrated implant dentists as well as patients. Insurance companies are likely to deny implant coverage to patients because these companies generally like to spend the minimum possible on insurance claims. For these reasons, we believe that insurance companies often provide reimbursement for acceptable services but not always for the best, or ideal, service for a particular situation.
Who does the final prosthetic work (i.e. crown(s), bridge(s), and denture(s))?
Your general dentist is the quarterback of the implant team. The general dentist will decide who will place the implant, which laboratory will make the final prosthetic products, and who will actually do the prosthetic work. Most commonly, the restorative general dentist who suggests implant therapy to the patient will perform the final prosthetic services. The implant surgeon usually places the implant and sometimes the final abutment, or post. Some general dentists do not perform any implant restorative work themselves, so they make other arrangements with their patients for restoration of the final implants. As a general rule, general dentists will do the final prosthetic work themselves.
Are there any other pros and cons that should be discussed concerning implant therapy versus any other types of treatment?
Again, we suggest an individual consultation to determine the best answer to this question. As a general guideline, implants can allow patients to get rid of removable appliances such as partial and complete dentures. Implants can also stabilize very loose dentures. To people who dislike removable appliances, implants provide the opportunity to make their teeth part of their bodies again.
In situations where a patient is trying to decide between an implant and a fixed bridge, several pros and cons should be considered. Implants will allow the teeth on either side of the missing tooth space to be preserved in their current form, while a bridge closing the same space will involve the grinding down of the teeth on either side of the space. If the adjacent teeth on either side of the space need crowns anyway, removing tooth structure is less of an issue, but it is a concern in situations where the adjacent teeth are whole, or only have very small fillings. Grinding down virgin teeth may also create greater sensitivity on the teeth than if an implant was placed in the area of the missing tooth instead. The maintenance of an implant versus a bridge is also an important area to discuss. You maintain an implant and crown by brushing and flossing just like any other tooth in the mouth, whereas a three tooth, fixed bridge will need to be maintained with special floss threaders or other instruments to allow for complete plaque removal. When you meet with Dr. Banda, you can discuss your specific concerns with him.