One set of baby teeth, one set of adult teeth…what happens if I lose teeth now?

Space of missing tooth ready for implant in top photo.

Despite your best efforts, and those of your dentist, you are about to lose a tooth due to fracture or infection.  While this can be a frightening situation for some people, there is a solution–dental implants. A dental implant is a great way to replace one missing tooth, several missing teeth, or every tooth in the mouth! The basic procedure is the same for each of these options, and today’s blog will explain the process of replacing a single missing tooth. In a future blog, I will discuss how we can replace many or all of the teeth with dental implants.

Implant placed waiting for healing

A dental implant is a titanium (metal) replacement for a natural tooth root. This is placed into the mouth in the location of the missing tooth by a general dentist or specialist while the area is frozen. Apprehensive patients can be sedated for this procedure if desired, but it typically takes only between 15-30 minutes in the average situation.  Bone will naturally grab onto this new “root” over a period of several months, during which time the patient can wear a “temporary tooth” if needed to improve appearance.  During the time of healing, the care needed is regular toothbrushing around this area, and rinsing with an alcohol-free anti-bacterial mouthrinse daily.

Implant completed with new crown!

After healing and growth of the bone onto the surface of the implant, it is ready to be “restored”.  Molds of your mouth will be made by your dentist and sent to the dental laboratory.  The dental laboratory technician will craft a tooth of porcelain (a crown), which will be attached by your dentist to the titanium “root.”  This is typically a painless procedure requiring no dental freezing.  Once complete, the new tooth closely resembles the lost tooth, sometimes looking even better!

What does this type of treatment cost?

The typical cost to replace a single tooth with a dental implant ranges from $4000-5000, and this depends upon whether there is enough bone present initially to hold a dental implant.  In some circumstances, extra bone needs to be added at the same or a seperate appointment which could increase the costs.

What about my dental insurance?

Many dental insurances still do not reimburse patients specifically for an implant.  Those that do, as with many dental procedures today, do not reimburse the full amount.  Some dental insurances will offer a patient a rebate based on a less-costly treatment option for the missing tooth, which could be a bridge or a removable denture.  The cost of a bridge to replace a single missing tooth can often be similar to the cost of a single dental implant, so many patients will receive the same dollar amount as a rebate for either treatment.  You should always contact your dental insurance provider ahead of time so you understand your plan’s treatment of dental implants.

Are dental implants the treatment of the future?

Actually…they are they treatment of choice TODAY! A dental implant is quickly becoming the standard of care for the replacement of a single missing tooth.  Once completed, a dental implant is often the “best tooth in the mouth” as it is not possible to become decayed.  Proper home care and dental check-ups remain very important to protect the implant, as well as the rest of the teeth, from gum disease. In our office, we recommend patients return for routine implant maintenance every three months with our dental hygienists.