What is a Dental Implant?
Implants are a tooth replacement option that involves placing a new "root" into the bone of your jaw. Once this titanium "root" has fused with your bone it can be used to support a crown, bridge or denture. These implants can also be used to replace partials and other forms of dentures. The success rate for dental implants are extremely high and is due in part to the fact that root-form implants are made of a biocompatible material, titanium. Because titanium is accepted so well by the human body, it is also used for orthopedic implants, such as hip and knee replacements. Dental Implants have now become the standard for replacing older dentistry and missing teeth because they look and feel like your natural teeth and have a higher success rate than all other forms of tooth replacement. The initial cost is generally higher for an implant over other forms of tooth replacement, but the long term benefits easily outweigh the difference in additional cost. An investment in implant dentistry is an investment in overall health, appearance and well being, as it involves preserving the integrity of facial structures, as well as replacing missing teeth.
The Benefits of Dental Implants
- Dental implants prevent face altering bone loss.
- For many people, dental implants will last a lifetime.
- Implants won't damage healthy sounding teeth like other restorations.
- With dental implants, you can eat and drink anything you like.
- Implant-supported teeth won't move or get loose.
- Implants look and feel very much like natural teeth.
- Many implant wearers report improved speech.
Why are dental implants the best option?
Dental implants can last a lifetime, unlike bridges, partials and dentures that may need to be replaced several times. Unlike bridges, partials and dentures, a dental implant replaces the lost tooth root, which will prevent jaw bone resorption that occurs with bridges, partials and dentures. The loss of tooth roots will cause a change of the smile and contours of the face over time. A bridge, once the common single tooth replacement method, requires the alteration of each neighboring healthy tooth, which is cut down and shaped to accept a crown. With dental implant treatment, there is no compromise to adjacent teeth. The lost root and crown is replaced leaving neighboring healthy teeth in place. Removable partials connect to healthy teeth by hooks. Partials may be removed for cleaning and may need to be replaced often. A partial hook connected to healthy teeth will create tooth stress and will loosen the healthy teeth over time. Full arch dentures and partials have the added disadvantage of accelerating the bone resorption process, which, among other things, causes the appearance of premature aging.
Am I a candidate for dental implant treatment?
If you are missing one or more teeth and in general good health, you are a candidate for dental implant treatment. There are a few qualifying factors that need to be addressed:
- Quality and quantity of available bone for implant placement.
- Uncontrollable diabetes or other medical conditions.
Overall, there are very few conditions that would keep someone from having implant treatment. Even people who have lost a significant amount of bone can qualify for dental implant treatment; although, an additional procedure(s) to add bone or to create new bone may be necessary. Advances in this type of treatment have made it possible for most people who would not previously have been considered candidates to have successful implant treatment.
How will my teeth look and feel?
A single tooth supported by an implant is like turning back the clock of time. The implant replaces the natural tooth root so the jaw bone and supportive gum tissue is as vibrant as ever. Multiple single implants may support single teeth or an implant supported bridge. Dental implants may also support the base for full arch dentures to attach to which provides the look, feel and function of natural teeth. Dental implant treatments is the only tooth replacement solution that prevents jaw bone resorption, which can cause your smile to look unnatural and in some cases, change your facial appearance. The long term esthetics of dental implants are superior to any other treatment option.
Is dental implant treatment covered by my insurance?
Dental insurance coverage of implant treatment depends on your individual policy. Dental benefits are determined by the amount an employer is willing to spend on the policy. Generally, dental policies cover basic routine preventive maintenance, basic care and emergencies. Most insurance plans only cover the basics with an annual maximum allowable benefit of $1,000-$1,500. Most insurance plans do not include dental implant coverage; however, often they will pay the same benefit they would cover for the lowest cost alternative treatment option (partials and dentures) and some of the diagnostic records, if a specific request is made for alternative benefits. You should review your both your dental insurance plan and your medical insurance plan. Medical coverage is very rare and Medicare does not cover implant treatment. All in all, it is best to assume that there is no medical insurance coverage available.
You are NEVER too old for dental implants.
Leonard Linkow invented the first metal implant over fifty years ago as a solution for older patients that were missing all of their teeth. Your doctor will consider your overall health, but there is generally no upper age limit for dental implant treatment. Many patients well into their nineties have had dental implant treatment without difficulty.