The Complete Guide to Dental Implants: A Better Smile Awaits

Missing teeth can be a major source of insecurity and embarrassment. It can also lead to dental health problems, such as an increased risk of decay and gum disease.

Fortunately, modern dentistry now offers a long-lasting option to replace missing teeth. Dental implants can restore your smile and boost your confidence.

This blog post is your complete guide to dental implants. We’ll explain what they are, how they work, and their potential risks and complications. We’ll also talk about the following:

  • The dental implant procedure
  • The benefits of choosing this tooth replacement option
  • What would life be like after getting these replacement teeth

So if you’ve been looking for a way to replace your missing teeth to improve function and oral health — read on!

Summary of the Article

  • Dental implants offer a viable tooth replacement option for those with missing teeth.

  • Dental implants are made from biocompatible materials such as titanium.

  • A dental implant has a post, abutment, and prosthetic.

  • The types of dental implants, depending on placement, are endosteal, subperiosteal, and zygomatic.

  • Implants are easy to maintain, durable, stable, and look and feel natural.

  • The dental implant procedure involves consultation, implant post placement, abutment placement, and prosthetic placement.

  • Dental implants are not suitable for everyone.
  • For those with bone loss, bone grafting may be needed.

  • Dental implants can be used to replace multiple missing teeth.

  • Recovery after surgery is generally straightforward.

  • Dental implant surgery carries risks, such as allergies and damage to oral structures.

  • The cost of dental implants varies depending on several factors.

  • Financing options are available to make this treatment more affordable.

  • Insurance coverage for the procedure will depend on the provider.

What Are Dental Implants, and How Do They Work?

Dental implants are restorations used to replace one or more missing natural teeth. They are embedded in the jawbone and fuse with the bone to create a secure foundation for an artificial tooth, dental bridge, or denture.

The dental implant acts like a natural tooth. Since it fuses with the bone, it is stable and secured. Unlike dentures which shift and move when chewing, a dental implant stays in place during function. Because of this, patients can eat, talk and smile confidently.

Dental implants are made of biocompatible materials such as titanium and zirconia. These materials are well tolerated by the human body. Dental implants are made up of three main parts:

  • The implant post:
    This is a small screw that acts as an artificial tooth root. It is surgically placed into the jawbone. It provides a stable foundation for the restoration.

  • The abutment:
    This connects the implant post to the artificial tooth.

  • The dental prosthetic:
    This could either be a crown, bridge, or denture. It acts as the visible part of the implant and restores your ability to chew and speak comfortably. They are fabricated to match the size, shape and colour of your natural teeth.
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What Are the Different Types of Dental Implants?

There are three different types of implants available, depending on the location of placement:

Endosteal Implants

Endosteal implants are the most common type of dental implant. These consist of small metal screws or posts surgically placed into the jawbone to act as an anchor. They help develop strong and secure foundations on which dentures can be fitted.

Endosteal implants offer excellent stability when there is sufficient bone available. This makes them ideal for many patients who require dental restorations.

Subperiosteal Implants

Subperiosteal implants offer an alternative solution to traditional endosteal implants. This is ideal for those with thin jawbones who wish to avoid bone grafting procedures. A metal implant frame is placed on top of the jawbone, under the gums. After fusion with the jawbone, artificial teeth are secured into place. This creates a lasting smile that looks naturally beautiful.

Zygomatic Implants

This is for patients needing a full arch of artificial teeth after losing all their upper jaw teeth. These special dental restorations are placed directly on the cheekbone to maximise the stability of the implant.

The type of implant chosen will depend on the condition of your jawbone. If there is sufficient bone, traditional implants are the suitable option. For those with insufficient bone available, subperiosteal or zygomatic implants provide viable alternatives. They can last up to 20 years with proper care and maintenance. Whatever type of implant you choose, your dentist will carefully plan the procedure and discuss any associated risks with you.

What Are the Benefits of Dental Implants Compared to Other Tooth Replacement Options?

There are numerous benefits to getting dental implants compared to other tooth replacement options, such as:

  • They are resistant to tooth decay, making them more durable than natural teeth.

  • They don’t require additional special care beyond regular brushing and flossing.

  • They provide a more natural feeling. As the metal post is fused with the jawbone, they act like regular teeth.

  • They provide long-term stability. Unlike dentures, they do not need special adhesives to stay in place. Patients can enjoy eating without the fear of them slipping.

  • They provide sufficient strength and support to allow patients to chew food properly.

  • Dental implants help preserve adjacent teeth by eliminating the need to trim healthy teeth for support, as is needed in dental bridges.

  • They promote good oral health by preventing neighbouring teeth from shifting and making it easier to clean between them.

  • They stimulate bone growth and improve jaw bone structure.

  • Unlike traditional dentures and bridges, which usually last 5-15 years, dental implants can last for decades, provided they are well cared for through proper brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings.

Although it may initially appear costly upfront compared to other tooth replacement options, such as partial dentures, the long-term benefits outweigh these costs. Dental implants have higher success rates and a lower risk of damage.

What Is Involved in the Dental Implant Procedure, and How Long Does It Take?

Dental implants involve a series of steps in the installation process.

A tooth implant procedure begins with an initial examination. The dentist will examine the mouth and take dental x-rays to determine the patient’s eligibility for dental implants. If the decayed or damaged teeth are still present, a tooth extraction will be done. If the patient has gum disease or has an insufficient bone to support the implant, other dental procedures will be advised to prepare the patient for implant placement.

Once it’s determined that the patient is ready for the dental implant procedure, the dentist will schedule the surgery.

The procedures involved in dental implant surgery include the following:

  1. The dentist will make an incision in the gum tissue to expose the jawbone.
  2. They will then insert a titanium post into the bone and attach it securely.
  3. Once the implant is secure, the incision will be closed and left to heal.
  4. The implant will be allowed to fuse with the jawbone. This osseointegration process usually takes at least three months.
  5. Once the implant is fully fused with the bone, the dentist will place an abutment over it to connect the prosthesis to the implant post.
  6. Finally, the dental prosthesis – a dental crown, bridge, or dentures – will be fitted over the abutment.

The entire process usually lasts 6 to 8 months, from initial consultation to the end of dental prosthesis placement. You may experience some discomfort in the first few weeks after oral surgery, but this can be managed with over-the-counter pain medication, ice packs, or other remedies prescribed by your dentist. Your dentist will also provide instructions on caring for your new implant and what foods to avoid eating while the implant is healing. If you have questions about your treatment plan, don’t hesitate to ask your dentist.

How Does Severe Bone Loss Affect the Possibility of Getting Dental Implants?

Tooth loss causes bone resorption or the slow deterioration of the jawbone. This condition can make it difficult to place an implant, as there may not be enough healthy bone remaining for the implant to attach securely.

In these situations, a bone grafting procedure may be required prior to dental implant placement to provide stable, healthy bone tissue. Bone grafting is a surgical procedure that involves taking bone from other parts of the body or using bone substitutes and transplanting them in areas with insufficient bone. The dental bone graft will add volume to the jawbone or stimulate the production of more bone to give the jawbone more stability and strength to support an implant.

Depending on the severity of bone loss, implants may not be suitable for everyone. Your dentist will examine you thoroughly during your initial consultation and determine whether an implant would be safe and effective for you. They may also provide additional information about other options, such as dentures or bridges.

Can Dental Implants Be Used to Replace Multiple Missing Teeth?

Those missing multiple teeth can bring back their beautiful smile with dental implants. There are various full-mouth implant treatment options available, such as:

  • All-on-4 Dental Implants:
    These implants can be used to restore all teeth in one arch using four dental implants.

  • All-on-6 Dental Implants:
    Six dental implants are used to restore all missing teeth in one dental arch.

  • Implant-Supported Bridges:
    An implant-support bridge utilizes implants for anchoring the bridge instead of relying on natural teeth for support.

  • Implant-Supported Dentures:
    These are fixed dentures supported by 6-8 implants for comfort and stability.

  • Implant-Retained Dentures:
    These are removable dentures attached to dental implants. They use fewer implants for anchorage.

What Is the Recovery Process like after Dental Implant Surgery?

Patients who have lost their teeth and are considering dental implant surgery should take comfort in the fact that recovery is not an arduous process. Following post-operative instructions will generally result in optimal implant stability in a period ranging from three to six months. This recovery period is essential for the implant’s successful integration with the jawbone and long-term success.

It is important to be closely monitored by your dentist following dental implant placement. This will help them monitor your recovery, an essential factor in successful treatment and better dental health.

Are There Any Lifestyle Restrictions after Getting Dental Implants?

Though extra care and caution may be required during recovery, lifestyle restrictions are minimal once the healing period is complete. It is highly recommended that you:

  • Avoid hard, crunchy, sticky, and chewy foods, which could damage your newly implanted teeth. Stick to soft foods as much as possible.

  • Wear a mouthguard when playing contact sports or engaging in any activity with a risk of injuring your new jawbone or dental implants.

  • Limit alcohol consumption and tobacco use, which can cause delayed healing and implant failure.

We recommend following your dentist’s instructions to the letter to have healthier teeth well into the years ahead.

Are There Any Risks or Potential Complications Associated with Dental Implants?

Dental implant treatment is a generally safe and effective way to restore teeth. However, as with any medical procedure, there are risks or potential complications associated with the surgery. These include:

  • Allergic reactions:
    It is possible to be allergic to the materials used in dental implants. Signs and symptoms include swelling, redness, pain, and itching.

  • Bone loss:
    Over time, bone loss may occur if the implant does not integrate properly with the surrounding bone and tissue. Signs and symptoms may include loosening or shifting of the implant.

  • Damage to surrounding healthy teeth:
    Damage may occur to healthy nearby teeth. This is if the implant is placed too close, causes excessive pressure, or interferes with bite alignment.

  • Infection.
    There is always a risk of infection after dental surgery. An infection may occur if the surgical site is not cleaned and the body cannot fend off bacteria. This can cause pain, delay healing and lead to implant failure.

  • Periodontal disease:
    If the implant is not cleaned well, plaque will accumulate around it and cause periodontal disease, also called gum disease. If not addressed immediately, this can lead to bone loss and implant failure.

  • Sinus damage:
    If the implant is too close to or passes through the sinus cavity, it can cause serious problems such as infection or long-term damage.

Knowing the risks and potential complications before undergoing the procedure can help patients make informed decisions about their oral health.

How Long Do Dental Implants Last, and What Is the Maintenance Process?

Dental implants are designed to be long-lasting; as such, they can last many years with proper care and maintenance. Good oral hygiene habits are the key to long-lasting dental implants. This will help prevent the onset of infection or gum disease that could lead to implant failure.

Patients should follow their dentist’s instructions on proper implant care and maintenance to minimise potential risks or complications. This includes:

  • Regular brushing and flossing at least twice a day
  • Avoiding smoking and tobacco use
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Seeking treatment for bruxism or teeth grinding if present

How Much Do Dental Implants Cost, and Is There Financing Available?

The average cost of a single-tooth implant can range from $4,000 to $6,000. However, this is just an estimate. The cost of dental implants can vary depending on several factors. This includes:

  • The type of implant you need
  • The number of implants needed
  • Additional procedures needed
  • The dentist’s experience
  • The location of the dental clinic

If cost is a concern, many financing options are available to assist with the costs associated with this dental treatment. Some dental clinics offer payment plans or in-house financing. Additionally, some insurance companies may cover part or all of the cost if the dental implant is deemed medically necessary. It is wise to check with your provider and insurer to determine the appropriate action.

Are Dental Implants Covered by Health Insurance or Health Funds?

Whether or not health funds cover dental implants varies based on your specific coverage plan. Generally speaking, basic health plans usually do not include coverage for elective procedures such as dental implants. Supplemental and specialty insurance plans, however, may provide some coverage for these types of cosmetic or restorative surgeries. Additionally, your health fund might cover a portion of the total cost of getting dental implants; however, most funds set very stringent guidelines that must be adhered to for coverage to apply. Ultimately, checking with your specific healthcare provider is the only way to accurately determine whether or not your policy covers dental implants.

What Should I Look for When Choosing a Dental Implant Provider?

When choosing a dental implant provider:

  • Find someone who has experience and expertise in the field.
  • Ask your dentist for referrals, and research their credentials and certifications.
  • Ask if they offer any discounts on treatment, such as free consultations or payment plans.
  • Look into their past patients’ reviews to get a better idea of their experience.
  • Make sure the provider has all the necessary equipment and facilities to treat you properly.

Ultimately, finding an experienced and reputable provider will help you get quality treatment at an affordable price.

Final Thoughts

We have discussed all you need to know about dental implants. With everything considered, you should now have a much better understanding of dental implants, the process of getting them, and what to expect after surgery.

If you feel like implants are the right option for you, don’t hesitate to book an appointment through our website or call Mary River Dental today. We are happy to answer any questions you may have. We look forward to helping you on your way to achieving the smile of your dreams!

Dr. Nick Peters


Dr. Nick Peters

Dr. Nick Peters joined Mary River Dental in 2014 and held Medical Laboratory Science and Dental Surgery degrees from the University of Otago in New Zealand. Before joining the practice, he worked for three years at a private dental clinic in Invercargill. Dr. Peters moved to the Fraser Coast region of Australia after visiting Mary River Dental in 2014.

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