What is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root (synthetic material) that is surgically
anchored into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge in place. The benefit
of using implants is that they don't rely on neighboring teeth for support, they
are permanent and stable. Implants are a good solution to tooth loss because they
look and feel like natural teeth.
Implant material is made from different types of metallic and bone-like ceramic
materials that are compatible with body tissue. There are different types of dental
implants: one is placed directly into the jawbone, like natural tooth roots; the
second is used when the jaw structure is limited, therefore, a custom-made metal
framework fits directly on the existing bone.
Can anyone receive dental implants?
Talk with your dentist about whether you are an implant candidate. You must be
in good health and have the proper bone structure and healthy gums for the implant
to stay in place. People who are unable to wear dentures may also be good candidates.
If you suffer from chronic problems, such as clenching or bruxism, or systemic
diseases, such as diabetes, the success rate for implants decreases dramatically.
Additionally, people who smoke or drink alcohol may not be good candidates.
What can I expect during this procedure?
The dentist must perform surgery to anchor the "artificial root" into or on your
jawbone. The procedure is done in the dental office with local anesthesia. Medications
may be prescribed for soreness.
How long does the process take?
The process can take up to nine months to complete. Technology, however, is trying
to decrease the healing time involved. Each patient heals differently, so times
will vary. After the screws and posts are placed surgically, the healing process
can take up to six months and the fitting of replacement teeth no more than two
What is the success rate of implants?
The success rate for implants depends on the tooth's purpose and location in
the mouth. The success rate is about 95 percent for those placed in the front of the lower jaw and 85 percent for those placed in the sides and rear of the upper jaw.
How do I care for implants?
Your overall health may affect the success rate of dental implants. Poor oral
hygiene is a big reason why some implants fail. It is important to floss and brush
around the fixtures at least twice a day, without metal objects. Your dentist
will give you specific instructions on how to care for your new implants. Additional
cleanings of up to four times per year may be necessary to ensure that you retain
What is the cost of implants?
Since implants involve surgery and are more involved, they cost more than traditional
bridgework. However, some dental procedures and portions of the restoration may
be covered by dental and medical insurance policies. Your dentist can help you
with this process.
Is my dentist trained in implant therapy?
Dentists who have received training through an extensive program can complete
this procedure. Your dentist may perform the procedure or consult with a team
of dental health specialists to produce the result discussed with you. Ask your
dentist questions about his or her training in implant therapy.
Created March 1999. Sources: "Dental implants: Are they for me? ", Quintessence Books, 1993; Compendium, September 1997; Journal of American Dental
Association, August 1998; American Academy of Implant Dentistry; American Academy
of Implant Prosthodontics; Consumer Reports.",
This information was compiled for you by the Academy of General Dentistry. Your
dentist cares about long-term dental health for you and your family and demonstrates
that concern by belonging to the Academy of General Dentistry. As one of the 35,000
general dentists in the United States and Canada who are members of the Academy,
your dentist participates in an ongoing program of professional development and
continuing education to remain current with advances in the profession and to
provide quality patient treatment. Visit the AGD's web site at www.agd.org. You have permission to photo copy this page and distribute it to your patients.
AGD IMPACT March 1999
Posted† May 15, 1999† [TCJ]