Questions and Answers about Dental Implants
What is a dental implant?
Dental implants are the closest approximation to natural teeth available for those missing. A dental implant consists of a post that is implanted in bone. The restoration (tooth or teeth) is attached to the post. The result is a stable prosthesis that is anchored by bone.
What is the advantage over a bridge?
The adjoining teeth do not need to be compromised so they can become the “anchors” for the bridge. The underlying bone (where the tooth was), is less inclined to recede because it is stimulated by the post. Care for a dental implant is the same as for your natural teeth, rather than the special care required to clean under and around a bridge.
What is the advantage over dentures?
You will have stable, strong “teeth” that are anchored. They will not slip or slide. Since they do not rely on your bony ridge for their support or stability, the problems with sore spots and areas that do not “fit” right are eliminated. Bone is stimulated by the posts just as it was by your tooth roots, so the bone in those areas can stop the recession process.
I have dentures now. Would I need an implant for each tooth that is missing?
No, although that is usually the optimal solution. There is also the option of having a “bar overdenture”. This type utilizes five or more posts implanted in your jaw, per arch. A bar is attached to the posts. Then a special denture is snapped to the bar. You will enjoy the stability this provides. The special denture can be snapped out for cleaning. For more information, see Multiple Implants or Full Arch.
Is the whole procedure done during one visit?
No. There is the placement visit, when the dental implant is placed in the bone. Then time is given for the bone to form solidly around the implant. The restoration visit is when the final prosthesis is attached. From the beginning to finish typically takes approximately six months.
Where would I go for the different procedures?
In most cases, all the procedures will take place in one location–Our Dental Home. This provides you continuity of care throughout the process, and peace of mind since you will be cared for by the same doctor and staff you have grown to know and trust.
Could a dental implant fail to “take”?
The success rate for dental implants is perhaps the highest of all dental procedures! Currently, dental implants in a non-smoker have a success rate of 98.6% for the surgical stage of treatment. This means that only 1.4% of dental implants fail to integrate with the bone.
If it does, what next?
Should you find the complete bony integration does not take place, the implant can be removed and the site allowed to heal for two months. Then another implant can be placed and success should be only a few months away.
What is the long-term success rate for dental implants?
Long term success with dental implants varies with the patient’s habits. Implants must be treated and cared for like natural teeth. For the patient willing to care for their implants, they can expect an 80% success rate at 30 years. The 10 year success rate is over 90%. This is the type of success most patients find quite satisfactory.
How does that compare with dentures, partials, and bridges?
Current research indicates the average life of a bridge is 12.5 years. It is also noted that the teeth that support a bridge or partial are 15 times more likely to have problems when compared to teeth next to an implant.
Will other people be able to tell I have dental implants, if I do not tell them?
In most cases no one but you and your dentist will know you have dental implants. There are situations where the final crowns are longer than natural teeth, but Dr. Snodgrass will inform you of this case before a decision is made to place dental implants.
What is the daily care like for dental implants?
Our dental team recommends that you brush and floss dental implants. We also feel the use of a water pic device with a Listerine-type product is conducive to good dental health. In other hard to clean places, special shaped brushes allow for mechanical cleaning of the implant structure.
Can the restoration teeth be made to look better than my original teeth?
When implant procedures are started within a reasonable time after teeth are removed, the end result is better than the original teeth that have broken down. The new restorations may be straighter and whiter. In these cases, yes, they will look better. When a single implant is placed, it is designed to blend naturally with the rest of your smile. The one situation that might result in less-than-ideal appearance, is when the patient has lost considerable bone after the teeth have been removed. This will cause the dental implant teeth to appear longer at the gum line than your original teeth.
How much do dental implants cost?
The cost of implants varies with the needs of the patient. The only accurate way to determine the cost of the procedure is to have a consultation and examination with Dr. Snodgrass. What the patient wants, plays a big role in the diagnosis for that patient, and thus the cost of restoring an area or whole mouth with dental implants.
Will my insurance cover any of it?
Most insurance companies are not covering dental implants. A few enlightened companies have started covering these procedures. When we take into consideration that insurance companies took 20 years to start covering dental sealants, it is doubtful that implants will be routinely covered by these insurance companies in the near future.
Do you offer payment options?
At Our Dental Home, we realize that budget is important to everyone, and monthly payments are often easier. That is why we have a plan available for those who wish to pay over time. The application form for this can be filled out in our office. Our business coordinator will be happy to explain it to you and help you through the process.
What is my first step for finding out if dental implants would be right for me?
Contact us to have an appointment set up with Dr. Snodgrass to discover whether dental implants are the solution to your dental needs.
Is Dr. Snodgrass experienced?
Yes. After having graduated with distinction from the University of Missouri Kansas City in 1977, he continued to further his education. He has extensive training and experience in the area of dental implants. Dr. Snodgrass holds Diplomat status with the International Congress of Oral Implantologists. He is a Fellow with the Misch Implant Institute. He has hundreds of hours of education focused on this one aspect of dentistry. He also has personally placed and restored at least 1,400 implants at the time of this writing. Although Dr. Snodgrass is quite adept at many phases of general dentistry, implant dentistry is his personal favorite!
What can I expect during the implant placement procedure?
We make sure that during the entire procedure, you will remain comfortable. In many ways it is much like any other dental procedure. Dr. Snodgrass will make sure that the area is numb and remains numb while the work is being done. You will be talked with, and will be able to let him know if you start to have any discomfort. If that happens, the entire procedure stops until you are comfortable again. Your comfort is always very important to us!
The main difference you will notice is that dental implants are placed using “sterile technique”–the technique used for any other surgical procedure. So we will have you rinse your mouth beforehand with a special rinse, and then we will “paint” around your mouth. Although all of our instruments are always sterilized, during a dental implant procedure everything we use is sterile–including even our gloves and gowns. So we will be dressed differently. But other than that, the actual procedure will be very similar to other dental procedures you have had in our office.
Will I be without teeth until the restoration is placed?
No. We will provide a good substitute that enables you to heal properly, yet gives you an attractive smile for others. Depending on the type of procedure, and your particular situation, Dr. Snodgrass may advise you not to wear it until the initial healing takes place. If this is the case, you will know about it ahead of time, so you can plan accordingly. We very much understand your feelings about this, and keep what is best for you (both long and short-term) as our main priority.
How will I care for my mouth during the first few days following the procedure?
You will be given an instruction sheet with the specific details. To summarize briefly: ice packs to keep down swelling and soft cold foods the first day make eating easier. After that, you may eat whatever you are comfortable eating. No rinsing or brushing your teeth or gums for the first 24 hours. After that, you will be using a mouth rinse and gently brushing your teeth. No alcohol or carbonated beverages for at least 48 hours. Since smoking is one of the leading causes of implant failure and rejection, no smoking for 1 month before your surgery and 2 months afterward.
Will the procedure and the first few days afterward be painful for me?
We do our very best to keep you comfortable! It is realistic that you will feel some discomfort, but we seldom have patients complain. Dr. Snodgrass has performed enough of these procedures to find a good system to keep the procedure and time afterward as comfortable as possible for his patients. You will be given his home phone number so you will be able to reach him easily if you have any problems, discomfort, or questions afterward.
What if I don’t have enough bone left for the implants to be placed?
Dr. Snodgrass will thoroughly analyze your bone so he can formulate a good placement plan. If you do not have enough bone available, or have the “wrong type” of bone for good success, he will discuss the options with you. Bone grafting is possible, and is quite frequently done for patients who have worn dentures for some time since there is usually considerable bone loss. Bone loss seldom eliminates the possibility of dental implants, it is just another factor for the planning.
How long after the placement must I wait, before the restoration is placed?
The wait for restoring an implant varies with the location of the implant and the density of the patient’s bone. In some areas, four months healing is all that is required. In areas where the bone is less dense, six months of healing is necessary for bone growth to attach solidly to an implant.
What are the restorative visits like?
In many cases they are an extension of restorative work on natural teeth. If a crown is the restoration of choice, an impression of the post is made and the crown is placed at the next visit. In the case of dentures supported by a bar, one the bar is fabricated and in place, the next steps are similar to when the original denture was made.