What Are Dental Implants?

If you have one or more missing teeth and are interested in a replacement option, dental implants are the ideal long-term solution. But what are dental implants? And what can you expect from dental implant surgery? 

Our dentists in Omaha, NE are here to break it down for you. 

What Are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are used to replace missing teeth. A dental implant consists of a small metal fixture that's fastened into or on top of the jawbone and a dental crown. After the implant has been placed, an artificial tooth crown is attached. If you have missing or broken teeth that are past the point of repair, dental implants could be the perfect solution to restore your natural smile!

Compared to dentures, implants provide a strong foundation for fixed or removable replacement teeth. Because they fit and function like natural teeth, dental implants are the new standard for tooth replacement options.

Who Is a Candidate for Dental Implants?

Dental implants are an effective solution for patients with missing teeth or chronic dental problems. Candidates for dental implants are in good general and oral health. 

Because most dental implants are connected to the gum tissues and bone, the best candidates are free of periodontal disease. The patient should also have an adequate amount of bone to support the dental implant. 

How Do Dental Implants Work?

Dental implants are composed of three parts: implants, abutments, and crowns:

  • Implants - An implant is a small metal post that serves as the root of a tooth. 

  • Abutment - The abutment is a device that connects the implant and the crown. 

  • Crown - Finally, a crown is a replacement tooth that is created to match your natural teeth. 

Types of Dental Implants

There are two main types of dental implants: endosteal and subperiosteal. 

  • Endosteal - Endosteal implants are embedded into the jawbone. This type of dental implant is generally made of titanium and shaped like a screw. 

  • Subperiosteal - Subperiosteal implants are placed under the gumline but above the jawbone. A metal framework is also used in place of the implanted screw. This type of implant is an option for patients who do not have a healthy jawbone and are unwilling to undergo bone augmentation to rebuild it. 

Dental implants come in different types, sizes, and heights. Depending on your needs, our dentists in Omaha can help determine which is the best option for you. 

Dental Implant Surgery: What to Expect 

Dental implant surgery is more invasive than dental crowns and bridges, but those options are attached to the surrounding teeth for support. Dental implants are surgically implanted into or above the jawbone, which means they’ll stay secure for years to come. 

To allow your jawbone to heal, dental implant surgery is performed in stages. This is not a procedure you can have done in one dental visit. Each part of the procedure is followed by a brief healing period to prevent complications. 

Here’s how dental implant surgery works: 

  1. Initial consultation - Your dentist will examine your mouth and take X-rays or 3D images to determine your eligibility for dental implants. Various implant options are discussed and a plan is developed for the implant surgery.  

  1. Implant placement - At your next appointment, the oral surgeon will make an incision in the gum line. Holes are drilled into the jawbone and the implant fixtures are placed. If you’re opting for a subperiosteal implant, the surgeon will place the implant above the jawbone. 

Over 3 to 9 months, the jawbone and/or gums will grow around the implant. This time may include swelling, bruising, and minor bleeding, but most patients manage with over-the-counter medications. 

  1. Abutment placement - Once the implant is bonded, your surgeon will place an abutment on top of the implant. This piece connects the implant with your permanent crown. In some cases, the abutment can be placed at the same time as the implant. 

Because the abutment is visible, your dentist may recommend temporary options such as a retainer, dental flipper, or a healing cap to keep the implant safe. 

  1. Permanent crown placement - After your gums heal, your dentist will take impressions of your teeth and custom-order a permanent crown. Individual crowns or implant-supported bridges are then attached to the abutment. While crowns won’t decay, they will require the same amount of care (and dental visits!) as your natural teeth. 

Our dentists at Eagle Run West Dental Group coordinate all our dental implant cases with an experienced oral surgeon. That said, we do provide regular dental implant check-ups and would be glad to walk you through the dental implant process. 

How Long Do Dental Implants Last?

How long dental implants last depends on how well the implants are cared for. With regular brushing and flossing, the implant screw can last a lifetime. The dental crown, on the other hand, lasts anywhere from 10-15 years before it needs replacing. 

There are many reasons implants may last longer (or shorter) than this timeframe, including: 

  • Oral hygiene - Dental implants last longer for patients with good oral hygiene. This includes brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day and seeing your dentist for regular cleanings. 

  • Eating habits - Sugary, sticky, or hard foods can negatively affect your implants. Clenching or grinding your jaw may also decrease the lifespan of dental implants. 

  • Location of the implant - Implants placed in the front of the mouth generally last longer than those in the back. This is because the back teeth are used more often and with greater force. 

  • Medical conditions - Your health may determine how well your body accepts the implant. It also affects how well your mouth heals after implant surgery. 

How Much Do Dental Implants Cost?

The cost of dental implants depends on several factors such as: 

  • How many teeth need replacing and where they’re located

  • The type of implant. If bone augmentation is needed, this may also be reflected in the cost of dental implants. 

  • Whether additional treatment is necessary to prepare the mouth for implants. For example, tooth extractions can drive up the cost of treatment. 

Dental implants are personalized to you and your specific oral needs, so costs will vary. Having a dentist or oral surgeon evaluate your case ensures you’ll receive an accurate cost estimate for dental implants. 

Benefits of Dental Implants

Dental implants are an investment in your oral health. When performed by an experienced oral surgeon, dental implants are also one of the safest dental procedures. Other benefits of dental implants include: 

  • Improved appearance - Dental implants look and function like natural teeth. And because they’re fixed, they won’t slip when you eat or talk. 

  • Easy to maintain - With regular brushing and flossing, dental implants can last for years. 

  • Better oral health - The teeth around your dental implants are left intact, keeping them free of bacteria that can lead to decay. 

  • Regain quality of life - Implants allow for comfortable chewing, prevent bone loss, and maintain your face shape. 

Dental Implants in Omaha, NE

Interested in learning more about the dental implant process? We provide cosmetic dentistry services in Omaha, NE. Contact Eagle Run West Dental Group to schedule an appointment so we can find a custom solution that’s right for you.

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