Dental Implants: What They Are and What To Expect

About 120 million Americans are missing at least one tooth, and more than 36 million in the U.S. do not have any teeth at all. Currently, a large percentage of these—about 90%—choose to use dentures as their tooth replacement. However, dental implants are rising as a superior alternative. More than 3 million Americans have dental implants, with the number growing by more than 500,000 each year.

What are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are artificial tooth roots. The implants, which resemble metal posts, are fused to the bone and act like screws for artificial teeth. Since the replacement teeth are made to match natural teeth, dental implants look and feel like your own teeth. They are a long-lasting, if not permanent, solution to tooth loss.
While dentures require significant daily maintenance to remain viable, dental implants need the same level of upkeep as natural teeth: brushing twice a day and regular flossing. They do not need to be refitted or removed. Dental implants are also more comfortable, since they do not slide when you are speaking or eating and do not require messy adhesive to stay in place, like dentures do.

What Should I Expect from Dental Implant Surgery?

Placing a dental implant is a multi-step process that can require up to 18 months. It is not a procedure that can be completed in one visit. The process includes:
  • Examination from Dr. Stallings: Dr. Stallings will examine the area in the mouth where the dental implants will be placed. Using X-rays and other dental imaging tools, he will assess the jawbone and determine if the tooth implant can be placed or if more bone is needed.
  • Damaged teeth removal: If you have damaged teeth in or surrounding the implant site, these teeth will need to be removed first. Patients are given local anesthetic to numb the affected area.
  • Bone graft: If the jawbone requires strengthening, an alveolar bone graft is placed to provide a solid foundation of bone for the implant. If bone loss is present, an onlay bone graft may be required. After the extractions and initial bone graft, the site is allowed to heal for at least three months. However, if enough bone is present at the initial visit, tooth extraction and implant placement can occur at the same appointment
  • 4) Dental implant insertion: During the placement appointment, the dental implant is placed onto the bone. Healing time varies from person to person, depending on the quality of bone. However, it typically takes between two to six months. To ensure no infection occurs, Dr. Stallings will schedule follow-up appointments.
  • 5) Abutment placement: Once the implant is stable, Dr. Stallings will place an abutment (a prosthetic component that holds the replacement tooth or teeth) on top of the implant. A healing cap will be placed to ensure that the tissue does not grow over the abutment.
  • 6) Permanent teeth placement: Once your gums heal, Dr. Stallings will finally add your replacement teeth. These teeth will be either screwed into the abutment or glued on with cement.

How Much Do Dental Implants Cost?

The cost for dental implants varies depending on your insurance, the region where the surgery is performed, and the person performing the procedure. But typically, the total for a single implant costs around $3,000 to $4,500.
Unfortunately, many dental insurances view dental implant placement as an elective service, and thus do not cover it in their plan. However, some insurance companies in Missouri are willing to pay for the cost of the implant crown. Dr. Stallings is passionate about making sure dental implants are affordable, and strives to make financing options available to his patients.

Are Dental Implants Right for Me?

Whether you are missing a single tooth or you are fed up with dentures that don’t stay in, implants can make a world of difference. The success rate of dental implants is over 98%, and nothing works better for replacing missing teeth.
If you are considering a dental implant, call Stallings Dental today and schedule a consultation with Dr. Stallings. He can help determine whether or not you are a good candidate for dental implants.