Dental implant can be placed as part of the process to replace a missing tooth and leave you with a natural-looking smile. At Dr. Sam Lee's clinic, we refer these cases to a local oral surgeon.
What is a Dental Implant?
This small titanium screw functions like a natural tooth root. Dental implants can be used to replace a single lost tooth or many missing teeth.
Your dentist will surgically place the implant into your jaw bone, where it will bond with the natural bone to act as an anchor for a tooth replacement.
Dental implants can help to prevent surrounding teeth from shifting, resolve jaw joint pain or bite issues, and restore facial tissues and appearance.
Why Replacing Missing Teeth Is Essential
Teeth surrounding the gap left by a missing tooth can start to shift out of place and cause misalignment issues. The jaw bone surrounding the area may also begin to deteriorate, resulting in facial collapse. This can negatively impact your ability to speak and chew.
The Dental Implant Procedure
For a dental implant procedure, your dentist will need a dental implant (titanium screw) and a tooth replacement.
The dentist will start by surgically placing the implant into the jaw bone, underneath the gum tissue. As the tissue heals, the implant will bond with the bone, then attach to the gum.
Once the area has healed, generally 3 to 6 months post-surgery, patients return to our office to have the procedure completed.
During this final appointment, your dentist will attach a tooth replacement, such as a dental crown, bridge or denture, to the implant to create the look and function of a natural tooth.
Dental Implant FAQs
Here are answers to some of our most frequently asked questions about dental implants that we've received from patients at Dr. Sam Lee's clinic.
- How long does a dental implant last?
If implants are cared for properly, they can last a lifetime. This includes proper brushing and flossing at home, in addition to attending regular hygiene cleanings and exams at our dental office.
The longevity of a dental implant can also depend on other factors including genetics, nutrition and development of any dental diseases.
- How do I care for my dental implants?
Care for your dental implant just as you would for your natural teeth.
Seeing your dentist regularly for hygiene appointments and maintaining a proper brushing and flossing routine at home can help prevent disease or decay from developing in the surrounding teeth and gums, which can negatively impact your dental implants.
- Does getting a dental implant hurt?
During dental implant surgery, your dentist will administer anesthesia to make you comfortable so you won't feel any pain during the procedure.
Following the procedure, there is not usually much discomfort. Most patients can manage any pain with an over-the-counter pain medication for a few days after the procedure.
You will also need to eat a soft diet for the first couple of weeks after the implant procedure to avoid any pain or irritation.
- How long does the dental implant process take?
The entire dental implant procedure usually takes about two to nine months to complete, depending on your treatment plan.
Your dentist can provide you with a more specific timeline based on your particular case.
- Will my insurance cover dental implants?
Some insurances companies will cover the cost of dental implants, while some will only pay for a portion of the cost, and others won't pay for any part of it.
To determine what part, if any, of your dental implant treatment will be covered by your insurance, check with your insurance provider.