This FAQ on dental implants for patients collects the comments and questions we receive. We attempt to answer them as factually as possible and by looking at the evidence available and professional opinions about the topic. Contact us here if you have any questions.
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FAQ on Dental Implants
Should I get dental implants?
If one or more of these statements are true, then you should consider getting dental implants:
I have one or more missing teeth.
– My missing tooth/teeth causes me problems.
– I have a bridge that needs to be replaced.
– My dentures bother me: they slip, click, make me feel uncomfortable and/or keep me from being able to eat what I want.
– I want a treatment option for missing teeth that provides a permanent, long-term solution.
Can my child get dental implants?
Yes, and in the long-run, this is the best alternative for children who have lost permanent teeth due to it stimulating bone growth, which is especially important if you lose teeth early in life. But in saying that, you should always opt to save a permanent tooth if possible.
Also, most dentists will wait to perform an implant procedure until your child’s facial growth and development have been completed. This normally occurs around age 16 for girls and age 18 for boys.
Can I get dental implants years after an extraction?
It is true that waiting a long time to get dental implants after extraction is not recommended. However, it is not the time elapsed by itself that determines if you are a good candidate to get dental implants and in most cases, you can still get dental implants several years after having had your teeth extracted. The reason why it is recommended to get dental implants as soon as possible after extraction, injury, or loss is that you want to have a good bone density when placing an implant.
When you have a missing tooth, the bone in your jaw is no longer stimulated which leads to the bone beginning to resorb. When your bone resorbs you may also lose neighboring teeth as a result and the less bone you have the more difficult it will be to place dental implants. This also incurs a higher cost.
In severe cases, bone grafting is necessary, which is when you add artificial bone. The success of the dental implant is of course dependent on the level of difficulty and osseointegration is more likely to fail if you do not have enough bone available.
In case you have experienced severe bone loss, you should seek out a specialist in implantology to do your procedure.
Am I eligible for dental implants?
The ideal candidate for a dental implant is in good general health and oral health. They should have healthy gum tissues, be free of periodontal disease, not smoke, and have no health conditions that can affect bone healing or are associated with a higher failure rate.
However, often the functional and psychosocial benefits of a dental implant procedure outweigh the associated risks. In some cases, you might be advised to finish a certain treatment or quit smoking before undergoing the dental implant procedure.
To determine if you are a candidate, you need to be evaluated by a dental practitioner or an implantologist. Your dentist will examine your teeth and gums thoroughly, as well as discuss your medical history and habits. Thereafter, you will receive a full assessment of the benefits and predicated possible complications, helping you to determine if a dental implant procedure is the best option for you. Don’t forget to always seek more than one professional opinion before making your final decision.
Being ready to get dental implants also requires a certain level of motivation and the ability to commit several months to the process. Evaluating when and how to proceed is important to make sure that you feel comfortable and have enough time to dedicate to the process, ensuring you the best possible outcome.
Am I a good candidate for dental implants?
In general, to be a candidate for dental implants you need to have at least one missing tooth and have an adult matured jawbone, which normally occurs around age 16 for girls and age 18 for boys. In addition, adequate oral bone or the ability to have a bone graft is needed to support the dental implant(s). If you suffer from any special condition (e.g. diabetes, osteoporosis) and/or get any medical treatment (e.g. chemotherapy, hormonal therapy), please inform your dentist and possibly do a check-up prior to going to your dentist.
Am I too old to get dental implants?
There are several studies that conclusively show that age alone should not be a limiting factor for dental implant treatment. In fact, elderly patients who are in good candidates for getting dental implants can expect a very high implant survival rate and minimal associated complications.
Are dental implant safe?
Dental implants have the highest documented success rates out of all possible tooth replacement options. Studies show a five-year survival rate of at least 95% and after more than ten years the survival rate is still around 93-95%. This means that in 93 out of 100 cases, no revisions were needed after 10 years from the date of the dental implant procedure. Evidence even supports the longevity of dental implants of up to more than 20 years.
Dental implant treatment remains a surgical treatment where the skills of the dentist, quality of the products, and your compliance are important success factors.
When should I get dental implants?
Prior to considering dental implant treatment, make sure with an oral surgeon or a periodontist that your existing teeth cannot be preserved.
If you miss a tooth, then time is money. Bone beneath your missing tooth sinks when there is no longer an active tooth root in place. This is very serious and it gets worse with time. In fact, most of the bone loss occurs within the first 6-12 months after the loss of a tooth. As a result, you could lose even more teeth if you leave it untreated.
Which dental implant is best?
The quality of a dental implant system relies of several factors such as the dentist skills, patient’s indication, patient compliance, and the other components used during the treatment.
There are three considerations when looking at the isolated implant brand:
First. Is the brand relying on its product research and development of scientific grounds?
Second. Is the brand well established, to ensure that many years from now, the implant placed is still available and/or supported by the manufacturer. This is important for example in terms of the warranty, and for the availability of dentists using this brand
Third. Are the other components used with the implant (e.g. abutment) manufactured by the implant company? Implant manufacturers do not publish the mechanical characteristics publically. In turn, the components that must fit on the implant are only having the best precision when manufactured by the implant company itself.
What is the cost of a dental implant?
The cost of a dental implant to the dentist varies from EUR 10 to EUR 450. The cost of treatment itself to the patient depends on many factors: the condition of the patient, cost of the practice, quality of service, time of treatment,… These factors can be classed into five categories: Duration, Predictability, Aesthetics, Service, Performance. Depending on your expectation for each one of these parameters, the price might vary.
The price to the patient for a single tooth can be between USD 3’000 to 5’000, but the best way to know for your personal case is to approach a few dentists and ask them an offer.
There are three general considerations to take into account when receiving an offer:
First. Price is not always an indicator of the true treatment quality, but certainly, a high-quality treatment involves more costs than a ‘low-cost treatment’. Make sure to understand the price in relation to meeting your expectations and achieving the planned clinical outcome.
Second. If you are quoted a cost for dental implants before seeing the dentist, make sure to check what you are getting. There is no one-size-fits-all implant treatment. Unfortunately, some dentists/clinics to have this approach either adapt the price when they see the patient or use low-cost products to ensure their margin even if the indications are more challenging than expected.
Third. Ask for a second opinion to confirm the diagnostic, explore the therapeutical solutions (there are many ways to treat you!), and get more educated about this type of treatment. When becoming more familiar with dental implant treatment, you will develop a closer relationship with your treating dentist and get more involved in your treatment: this leads to a better satisfaction level. See the free eBook “Essentials of Dental Implant Treatment for Patients“.
What dental implant is this?
A frequent question from dentist getting a new patient with dental implants is to be able to identify the implant brand (e.g. Straumann, Nobel Biocare), the implant type (e.g. Bone Level, BLX, Nobel Active) and the connection size (e.g. wide, regular narrow).
Implant industrials help dentists in such cases, as well as some third-party services such as whatimplantisthat.com .
At the end of the implant treatment, dentists should provide the patient with the ‘implant passport‘ that details which implants were used and where.
Increasingly, implant dentists provide patients with a treatment box at the end of the procedure, that has all the components used during the treatment. In time, these components can be used by a dentist to maintain the implant and its prosthesis. This approach is also a good concept to ensure that only new components are used in the patient’s mouth, which ensures no risks of cross-infections and good quality of restorative components (i.e. precision).
Is a one- or two-piece prosthesis better?
Today, there is a trend to go for two-piece restorations. One piece (base) is placed on the day of surgery on the implant and remains there. The second piece (abutment with crown, or one-piece implant-crow) comes on top.
The recent scientific evidence shows that keeping the biological barrier around the implant and base intact, limits the chances to see bacteria migrating along with the prosthesis towards the implant – often cause of mucositis/peri-implantitis. See an illustration here.
With regards to the crown, a one-piece solution where the abutment and crown are ‘merged’ together present better longevity and less need of repairs (due to porcelain chipping). This option is esthetic enough for prosthesis not too visible when smiling (i.e. posterior region).
For the anterior region, visible when smiling, two-pieces solution offers the flexibility to the dental technician to produce highly esthetic prosthesis. In the anterior region, as the chewing forces are lower, the problem of chipping is less frequent. See an illustration here.
Overall the one-piece solution is cheaper than the two-piece one, but the level of aesthetics might be lower while its strength is higher.
Which is the best prosthetic material?
This depends on what aesthetic look you want and if a certain material is preferred due to its unique properties. There are three broad categories of prosthetic materials:
Metal-based prostheses are made out of titanium or cobalt-chromium. Titanium is highly biocompatible (it is not harmful to the human body), whereas cobalt-chromium is preferred for its cost-effectiveness.
Ceramic-based prostheses (zirconia) are highly esthetic and biocompatible, but they are more expensive than metal-based solutions.
Synthetic prostheses are available at a lower cost but they are less esthetically pleasing and durable, and thus are used for provisional solutions more often.