Passionate about health, Alison is a freelance writer/researcher for clients working in nutrition, physiotherapy, and chiropractic.
At A Glance
In this article, you will learn the facts about the following five important aspects:
- Tooth Implants to replace missing teeth
- Problems that can occur
- Likely costs of dental implant procedures
- Mini Dental Implants to support removable dentures
- Implant supported bridges to fill larger gaps with permanent dentures
Tooth Implant Procedures
Tooth implant procedures are carried out for three main reasons.
- First and foremost to replace a missing tooth or teeth
- Second mini dental implants can form a secure base for removable dentures
- Thirdly, they can enable the fitting of permanent dentures or bridges
Cosmetic dentistry has made an enormous difference to many people's lives.
Having missing, damaged, decayed or crooked teeth can all be rectified nowadays and a great smile is something available to all of us although there are often considerable costs involved. In this article, we set out to answer all your questions on tooth implant procedures and costs.
1. Tooth Implants
The Process to Replace Missing Teeth
If you have lost a single tooth in a prominent position, a tooth implant can provide the nearest thing to having your own tooth. Unlike a traditional bridge where teeth on either side have to be cut down and reshaped to take a crown so that the gap can be bridged, the implant enables the tooth to be replaced without affecting healthy teeth on either side.
The first part of the procedure involves taking x-rays to examine the health of the jawbone and the gums. This is important because the implant has to be anchored in the jaw bone and so a good anchor is critical to the long-term success of the implant.
Implanting A Tooth, The Procedure and What To Expect
The implant is a screw-shaped device which is fitted into the gum and anchored in the jawbone.
This sounds a bit alarming but in actual fact, the implant can be fitted into the socket where a tooth has been recently extracted or into an older, existing gap by making a small hole in the bone.
This is all done under local anesthetic so the patient does not feel any pain and the procedure which takes only about 45 minutes usually, is said by many patients to be infinitely preferable to root canal treatment!
An Animation Video of the Process
What are Tooth Implants Made Of?
This part of the implant is made of titanium. In 1953, Professor Per-Ingvar Brånemark from Sweden discovered in his laboratory testing that titanium was safe to use because it does not cause inflammatory reactions and bone is able to bond with it, actually growing on the surface of the titanium screw, to provide a really secure foundation for the new tooth. The screw be treated with special materials prior to insertion to encourage the process which takes from six weeks to about four months.
Will I Have A Gap During Healing?
A healing abutment, which is a small cylinder is attached to the top of the implant in the gum so that the gum can heal around it. During the healing period, the patient can have a temporary tooth in place so that they do not have a 'gap'.
Impressions are taken so that a new tooth can be made that will perfectly fit the gap and match the adjacent teeth. This new tooth is a crown and can be placed onto the abutment
- One of the most common problems in fitting a dental implant is insufficient bone in the area to be treated. This can often be corrected by a bone graft although this does add to the final cost.
- Gum grafting is another procedure which is sometimes required to ensure that there is enough soft tissue in the area to take the implant.
- Sometimes in the upper jaw, the sinus cavity has to be lifted to enable enough room for the implant to be anchored successfully. Again, this sounds a little alarming but in actual fact can be done under local anesthesia in your dentist's office.
Long Term Dental Implant Problems You Should Know About
How Much Does a Tooth Implant Cost?
Costs will vary according to the size and position of the tooth and whether you need a bone graft in addition. However, for a single tooth implant without complications will cost around $1800 although you may find that there are offers enabling affordable dental implants at $1500 or less per tooth. For more complicated procedures, the cost may be in excess of $2,200. (figures are based on my online research.
Explanation of Implant Cost Variations
Can I Get Dental Implants On The NHS?
In the UK, dental implants are only available on the NHS if there is a medical need for them. the average cost of a single tooth implant is around £1,200 (source http://cosmeticdentistry.cliniccompare.co.uk/the-average-cost-of-dental-implants-in-the-uk). However, this obviously increases if bone or gum grafts are needed.
Check Your Insurance Policy!
Dental Implants for situations other than where a tooth has been knocked out in a sports injury, or an accident are not usually covered by insurance plans. For implants in the case of accident or injury, you often have to have purchased an upgrade to the basic plan to qualify - so it is worth checking your policy!
4. Mini Dental Implants
What Are Mini Dental Implants?
If you are a denture wearer and have a problem keeping your denture(s) in place, mini dental implants can be a real blessing! They can prevent the necessity for adhesive creams, give you the confidence that your dentures will remain securely in place without slipping and generally make life much more pleasant and comfortable.
This type of implant is also suitable for those who may not have enough bone for the type of dental implant described above, or who want a more affordable dental implant solution to their problem.
How Mini Dental Implants Work
The Two Part Process for Mini Implants
- Part one, is providing a denture which has metal housings, each with a rubber o-ring inside.
- Part two is providing mini versions of the titanium implants described above. These have rounded heads which protrude above the gum-line and when you put your denture in, the metal housings on the base, snap on over these rounded heads, locking your denture firmly into place.
The mini dental implant procedure is very simple, is done under local anesthetic at your dentist's office and usually takes just one appointment. The implants are much smaller than the ones needed to anchor a tooth, they are only around 2 mm in diameter but they anchor into the bone of your jaw in the same way.
The rounded head of the implant and the o-ring lined housing under your denture form a neat 'ball and socket' joint holding your dentures securely in place and resting on your gum-line.
Implant supported dentures are a less expensive option than replacing the missing teeth with implants, even if this were possible. Your own dentures might be able to be modified to take the housings necessary so this could save you on costs.
However, you should bear in mind that whilst a single 'mini implant' might cost you 50% less than a traditional one described above, you would need at least two and possibly up to six, placed at the same time and implant supported dentures are also expensive.
This is very like a traditional bridge, but instead of being placed onto existing teeth to bridge a gap, it would be fixed onto implants instead. If you have a large gap, with two or more teeth missing, your dentist may suggest this as an option.
There are two types, one where each missing tooth has an implant inserted into the jaw and the crowns to go over them are not separate, but fused together.
This option is used in cases where the jaw is suitable to receive the implants and where the dentist may have concerns that the pressure of the bite in that area might be too much for individual teeth - doing it this way, spreads the pressure along the length of the bridge.
The other type is where a crown or crowns can be suspended between an implanted tooth at either end of the bridge.
This type is suitable where the bone in the mid area is unsuitable to receive an implanted tooth and can provide a less expensive alternative where only two implants are provided instead of the three or four that would be needed to fill the bridge area completely with implanted teeth.
Animation Showing the Procedure for a Supported Bridge
The benefits to the person fitted with a tooth implant can be huge.
- There will be no gap, which can be embarrassing, distressing and very aging to a person's face.
- There will be no need for dentures which can be ill-fitting, cause discomfort, embarrassment and difficulties in eating.
- Traditional Bridges involve cutting and reshaping adjacent teeth whereas an implant can fit into the gap without damaging other, healthy teeth.
Get Your Great Smile Back!
If you are considering a dental implant, book a consultation with your dentist. These initial consultations are often free of charge and will give you a good idea of the costs and whether there are likel to be any complications in having a tooth implant fitted in your case.
© 2013 Alison Graham
Atomo Dental from 1241 Quarry ln #125, Pleasanton CA 94566 on July 06, 2015:
Alison Graham (author) from UK on April 24, 2015:
Thanks for your comment Brooke, I think they are a great alternative to dentures and, as you say, tooth implants are definitely the next best thing to your own teeth and cosmetically, they can be a lot better than your own!
KA Hanna from America's Finest City on April 24, 2013:
Wonderful, informative hub! Thank you for writing such a well-researched piece!
Alison Graham (author) from UK on April 10, 2013:
Wow, thanks so much awordlover! I really enjoyed writing this hub and finding out about the information. It's getting lovely messages like yours that really encourage me to get started on the next one!
awordlover on April 10, 2013:
This hub is EXCELLENT!!!!!!!!! It is extremely informative, well structured so that anyone who doesn't know anything about implants can follow along using your video's flow with the text perfectly. WELL DONE! I am promoting this hub on my Pinterest page as well as on Facebook because this is much needed information which has been provided in language and examples even laymen can understand. Voted useful and interesting, but that only is the tip of the iceberg; there aren't enough choices to begin to give enough accolades to this hub. Great Job!