Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Implants

Smiling woman whispering in man's earA smile marred by missing teeth can cause embarrassment that damages a person's self-confidence. Missing teeth can also cause discomfort and lead to other serious dental problems. Using dental implant technology, Dr. Nathaniel Podilsky can restore dental strength and beauty by eliminating the gaps from a patient's smile. Before any treatment, it is important that a patient gather as much information as possible, which is why we have provided answers to frequently asked questions about dental implants.

Dr. Podilsky understands that each patient has unique needs. If you have additional questions about a smile design with implant dentistry, contact our Edmonton, Alberta office to speak with a member of our team.

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Implant Dentistry FAQs

Below are answers to questions many of our patients have asked when considering dental implants and oral surgery.

Q: What is a dental implant?

Dental implants are screw-shaped cylinders usually made of titanium that are place in the bone of the upper or lower jaws.  They are used to replace a single missing tooth, to replace multiple missing teeth or to stabilize loose dentures where a patient has no teeth. 

Virtually all dental implants are “root form endosseous implants”.  This means that they are placed within bone (end-being the Greek prefix for “in” and osseous referring to “bone”) and they appear similar to look and function of an actual root of a tooth.  This titanium post is accepted and osseointegrates with the bone of the jaw.   Titanium is an inert metal that is also used in hip and knee replacement surgeries. 

Before the extensive use of endosseous implants, blade endosseous implants and subperiosteal implantswere very common.   Subperiosteal implants were frameworks which were constructed to lie upon and were attached with screws to the exposed bone of the upper or lower jaws. 

Dental implants can be used to support either crowns, bridges or partial or complete dentures.  They are also very commonly used now to control the movement of forces while doing orthodontic tooth movement.  

Q: I’m only missing one tooth. Is implant dentistry right for me?

As long as you have healthy gums, a strong jawbone, and you’re generally in good health, a dental implant is probably an excellent option to permanently restore your missing tooth. In fact, patients missing only one tooth are typically premier candidates for a dental implant. To make an implant dentistry consultation at our practice in Edmonton, Alberta to learn more about permanent replacement for a missing tooth, please contact us today.

Q: What sort of maintenance is involved once I receive a dental implant?

Good oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing daily, as well as regular visits to the dentist, will help to maintain your new, healthy smile. Although dental implants are permanent replacements for damaged or missing teeth, they require just as much care as your natural teeth.

Q: How long does a dental implant procedure take?

Treatment times can vary. Generally, a patient will wait several weeks between the time the titanium implant post is installed, and the time an artificial tooth can be secured to that post. Allowing enough time for the jawbone to naturally fuse to the implant is crucial in providing each patient with a permanent and durable tooth replacement.

Q: Is the recovery painful?

Dr. Podilsky makes sure that dental implant surgery is comfortable and as pain-free as possible. Afterward, most patients require only mild pain medication and are able to return to regular activities within one day of surgery.

Q: What benefits can I expect from having a dental implant?

A dental implant allows patients to enjoy the feeling of firm, stable, natural-looking teeth. Because patients have the confidence to eat their favorite foods again, and a beautiful smile to share, they can appreciate everyday activities in a new way. Dental implants also prevent the damaging bone loss that often occurs from wearing dentures.

Failed implants can usually be attributed to poor quality bone, poor dental hygiene, unhealthy lifestyles (smoking, drugs) or poor medical health.  Implants have over 30 years of use in the dental field.  Technology and procedures have advanced significantly over the past thirty years. 

  • Implants cannot get decayed.
  • Implants are relatively easy to clean.
  • Implants, once placed, help to preserve the existing remaining jaw bone.  One must remember that when teeth are extracted the jaws will continue to lose bone in height, width and in quality.  The only real stimulus to maintain bone is function which can either be provided by the root of a tooth or an implant. 
  • Implants can maintain the facial structure and profile of the patient
  • Implants can preserve tooth structure of adjacent teeth.   No longer do you have to cut down existing tooth structure of adjacent teeth to place a traditional bridge if an implant is placed.
  • Implants supporting crowns or bridges have a longer functioning life than crowns and bridges supported by natural teeth.
  • Premature aging is a common problem with bone loss.  Implants can help prevent the appearance of this aging process.
  • Improved eating is a common benefit of implant supported dentures.  Traditional dentures most often create sores due to frequent movement of the lower denture.  In these situations diet needs to be modified by using either softer food or cutting up foods into smaller pieces.  Implant supported dentures on the other hand, stabilize the dentures allowing patients to function like they have natural teeth.
  • Improved speech is also a common benefit of implant supported dentures.  Traditional dentures are loose and require frequent relining.  Because they are loose speech can be a problem.  Implant supported dentures prevents the movement of the dentures (especially the lower denture) thus improving speech.
  • Denture slippage can be very embarrassing especially during a public speech or public function.
  • Dental implants can be cost effective when you look at the success rate and functioning life of the implant.  

Q: Are dental implants painful?

The surgery is done under local anesthesia or freezing.  Usually patients will feel vibration but no pain.  Patients often comment that implant surgery has less discomfort than extractions or other dental procedures.  The surgery is also done in a very gentle manner to protect the surrounding gums and other existing teeth. 

Q: How long do implants last?

No one knows exactly how long implants will last.  Implants have been around for over 40 years via the Branemark System.  Even years ago they were predicable and successful.  According to a study published by Ragner Adell et al. in the International Journal of Oral & Maxillofacial Implants titled "A Long-term Follow-up Study of Osseointegrated Implants in the Treatment of Totally Endentulous Jaws," many implants may last over 15 years with a 90% success rate.   Often the restorative component such as the crown, bridge or denture needs to be repaired or changed but the implants themselves are intact.  Patients with severe bruxism or clenches are particularly hard on implants as they are on their natural teeth.

Q: What is the cost of dental implants?

Costs vary on the type of implants used, the components used to restore the case, the type of materials used and the lab costs associated with the fabrication of the denture, crown or bridge.

Costs may vary from $1500 to $2800 per tooth depending on the above factors.  After an examination Dr. Podilsky will make a recommendation based on your personal needs, wants and clinical situation.  At the consultation appointment all questions will be answered including the costs before any treatment is started.

Q: How long does the treatment for dental implants take?

Treatment time varies on your clinical situation, the type of procedures performed and your medical health.

  • Treatment time usually varies from three to twelve months.
  • If bone grafting is required, an additional six months may be required.
  • During the healing phase, the patient will always have a temporary restoration.   Patients never have to worry about going without any teeth. 

Q: Do implants have to be maintained?

Yes all implants will have to be maintained.  Daily plaque removal is important and regular cleaning visits to the dentist are required.  At the regular dental visits, the implants are cleaned, x-rays are taken to evaluate the bone support, the gums or soft tissues are reevaluated and the bite is checked.  At these visits the staff will give you suggestions on how to obtain long-term results with your implants. If implants are not maintained, one can get gum disease or bone loss around the implants.

Q: Do I have to be put to sleep to have implants done?

No, most implants can be done with local freezing and is less traumatic than taking teeth out. Sedation is currently available by Dr. Podilsky for those patients that want to have implants placed.

Good oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing daily, as well as regular visits to the dentist, will help to maintain your new, healthy smile. Although dental implants are permanent replacements for damaged or missing teeth, they require just as much care as your natural teeth.

Implant-supported Dentures

Q: What is an Implant-supported denture?

Implant-supported overdentures are attached to dental implants. A regular denture rests on the gums, usually held in place by a mild adhesive.   Traditional dentures are not supported by implants. They usually fit less securely in the mouth. Implant-supported dentures have special attachments that snap onto your dental implants.  These kins of dentures are most often used when a person doesn’t have any teeth in the jaw, but has enough bone in their jaw to support dental implants.  Implant-supported dentures can be crafted for the upper or lower jaw.  It is more common in the lower jaws because traditional dentures are usually less stable because of  the tongue's movement.  You can either have  fixed or removable implant-supported dentures.  Your dentist will take your particular needs into consideration, along with your wants and preferences when recommending the fixed or removable options.

Q: How does it work?

There are two commonly used types of implant-supported dentures:  bar-retained and ball-retained.  The bar-retained dentures require at least three implants while the ball-retained dentures require only two implants.  Either case, both dentures will be made of pink acrylic that looks like gums and while porcelain or acrylic teeth that look like natural teeth. 

Ball-retained dentures:
Each implant that is placed in the jaw bone has a metal attachment that fits into another attachment on the denture.  In most cases the attachment on the implants are round or ball-shaped and fit into sockets on the attachments. 

Bar-retained dentures:
In this situation there is a bar that is attached to three to five implants that have been anchored to the jawbone.  Clips or other attachments are fitted to the bar, the denture or both.  The acrylic denture then fits over the bar and is securely clipped into place by the attachments. 

Caring for Your Implant –supported Denture

You should remove the denture at least three times a day for cleaning.   The underside of the denture should be brushed with a tooth brush.  The implants and attachments should also be brushed and cleaned thoroughly. You will need to see your dentist every three months for the first year to have a cleaning and to check both the implants and the denture.  Your bite will be checked also.  Even though the denture is secure there is always a slight movement of the denture.  This can create sores on the gums.  The clips or attachments on the bar-retained denture usually will need to be replaced every 6 to 12 months.  Since these attachments are usually made of plastic (nylon), they will wear and need to be replaced after continued use. X-rays will need to be taken periodically to see how the implants have integrated.

Complications

Besides the normal risks of surgery and the implants failing, the bar can break or the attachments can loosen or break as well.  This is relatively common in patients who grind or clench their teeth.  Also, the bar must be evenly balanced on each implant or have a “passive fit”.  If the fit is not passive, the extra strain on the bar can cause the screws to loosen. Teeth can come loose from the base.  This can happen because the bar-retained denture needs space on the denture framework for the special attachments that are fitted to the bar.  This means that there is less space for the teeth to be placed thus causing this complication. 

Expectations from Your Implant-supported Denture

  • More stable than regular dentures
  • Easier to speak and you will not have to worry about the denture falling out of the mouth
  • You will be able to eat foods that you were not able to eat with your regular dentures such as steak
  • You still should not eat sticky or extremely hard foods because they can damage your denture
  • Because the denture is implant-supported, there will be less plastic required, especially on the roof of your mouth.  This will create a more natural feeling than a regular full upper denture.

Implant-supported Denture Costs

Since this is based on several procedures and not just one the costs can be complicated explaining to a patient interested in this type of procedure.

First there is a fee for the surgery to place the implants.  The costs can vary on the types of implants placed, the number of implants placed and if there is bone grafting required.  Here costs vary per patient based on the patient’s personal situation.  Also, if bone grafting is required there are several types of bone grafts on the market. 

The second part is the implant denture cost which will also vary depending on the options available and the options chosen by the patient.  Again, the choices are several types of ball clasps, locators or a bar with attachments.  What is done depends on the patients’ desires, the patients’ expectations and what the patient is willing to invest.

A well educated patient knows what to expect and can make intelligent choices.  If you are interested in implants or implant supported dentures, you’re welcome to make an appointment for a free compliment consultation with Dr. Podilsky at 780-428-6846.  

If you would like to learn even more about the transformative benefits of implant dentistry, contact us in Edmonton, Alberta to schedule an appointment with Dr. Nathaniel Podilsky.