The Complete Guide To Dental Implants
This is content you will not find anywhere else on the internet. This content is written and produced by Dr. Reza Khazaie, DDS, founder of Willow Pass Dental Care, the leading dentist in Concord, CA.
Dr. Reza Khazaie is a nationally known prosthodontist who is regarded amongst his peers and patients as the smile expert.
Dr. Khazaie is an expert on the specialized treatment of dental and facial problems involving restoring missing teeth and jaw structures. He is a highly trained specialist in dental cosmetics, dental implants such as the All On 4 treatment concept, bridges, dentures, implant-supported dentures, dental crowns, porcelain veneers, Ectodermal Dysplasia, TMJ/TMD, and many more dental procedures.
So if you’re looking to learn as much as you can about dental implants, you will appreciate this guide.
Are you ready? Let’s start.
Tooth loss, or edentulism, is a universal condition suffered by many people. While the condition is typically associated with the elderly, it affects the young as well as everyone in between. A full quarter of all adults over the age of 60 have no natural teeth left to speak of, but the process of tooth loss often begins at a young age and progresses as individuals get older and are exposed to a disease, trauma, poor diet, or simple neglect.
Seven percent of Americans will lose at least one tooth to decay by the time they turn 17 years old.
Another 178 million are missing at least one.
That’s a lot of people without teeth.
Many of those suffering from edentulism could benefit enormously from undergoing a dental implant procedure to replace an individual tooth or All On 4 dental implants which can replace an entire mouth of teeth. This could significantly enhance their ability to speak, eat, and look and live the way they want.
Dental implants are the gold standard when it comes to replacing tooth loss.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Implants
The following are the most common questions I receive about dental implants.
What are dental implants?
Dental implants are, quite simply, an artificial root for a replacement tooth.
Typically implants are composed of three distinct parts: a metal post usually made from titanium that may look like a screw, an abutment that connects the post with a replacement tooth, and finally, the replacement tooth itself referred to as a “crown.”
Implants are typically embedded into suitable jawbone to provide support for replacement dentures.
What are some solutions to dental implants?
Dental implants act as an anchoring and support system for a number of implant-based dental solutions ranging from individual tooth replacements to some full-mouth reconstruction procedures such as All On 4 dental implants. The implantation process is typically the first step for many of these procedures.
Why should I choose dental implants?
Conventional dental implants have several significant advantages over alternative treatments such as traditional removable dentures or teeth-supported bridges. Thanks to osseointegration, titanium implants become bonded with the existing bone and form a strong support for replacement teeth and dentures.
Sufficiently integrated implants are strong, resilient, and can last a lifetime with regular care. Implants are also considered more aesthetic, feel more like natural teeth than other treatments, and, most importantly, combat bone wasting or resorption.
Dental implants overcome the problems associated with bone resorption, thus maintaining a fuller, younger-looking face. The titanium posts upon which replacement crowns are attached act like a natural tooth’s roots by transferring chewing and biting forces into the bone below, which helps to maintain both volume and density.
How long does it take to get dental implants?
The process of dental implantation, as well as any cosmetic enhancement procedures, begins with preparation.
The prosthodontist or oral surgeon will first determine if dental implants are possible, given the depth of existing bone structures. If it is determined that the existing bone is not viable for dental implants, a prerequisite bone grafting procedure may be needed.
If it is decided that the patient is ready for implants to be placed, existing decayed or damaged teeth must be removed. The surgeon or cosmetic specialist will then embed the titanium posts, or screws, into the jaw bone at appropriate intervals.
Depending on the procedure requested, the process may end for the moment to allow for the implants to osseointegrate into the surrounding bone tissue before replacement teeth or dentures are attached. For some procedures such as All On Four dental implants, the waiting period may be unnecessary. In any case, before the final prosthesis can be attached, an abutment must be put in place.
An abutment acts as a connector that joins a patient’s final replacement teeth or dentures with the anchoring metal posts.
How long is dental implant surgery, and is it painful?
Due to the nature of the procedure, some pain is to be expected. Our caring staff here at Willow Pass Dental Care work with our patients to help manage and minimize pain during and after the procedure.
Dental implant patients will typically receive either local or general anesthetics depending on the number of implants required, any preparatory work that must be done, and any personal requirements to ensure that they are as comfortable as possible during the whole process.
Our goal is to minimize or eliminate pain in getting a brand new set of teeth that will change your life.
How Implants Changed My Life
How long does dental implant surgery recovery take?
Patient recovery times vary from patient to patient depending on several variables including the procedure and how many teeth require replacement. Typically, replacing a single tooth will require minimal recovery time.
Generally, many patients can go right back to work. More involved treatments, such as All On 4 dental implants or other conventional implants may require more recovery time.
Is it difficult to care for dental implants?
Dental implant restorations look, feel, and function just like your natural teeth and require similar maintenance.
Patients can brush and floss their new implants as if they are regular teeth.
Patients will still also require routine check-ups and cleanings just as you would prior to getting dental implants.
Depending on the implant procedure additional recommendations may be in order which your prosthodontist will review with you.
How much do dental implants cost?
Dental implant costs will vary based on the procedure and complexity.
The following are some price ranges:
- Traditional dentures cost ranges from as little as $500 to $14,000.
- Snap-In Dentures range from $2,000 to $18,000.
- Traditional implants cost $60,000 to $110,000.
- The All On 4 Dental Implant process is considered the most state-of-the-art solution for patients who are missing teeth cost from $18,500 and upper arch.
I cover these in depth here along with my list of pros and cons for each type of implant.
Who provides dental implant treatments?
Just as not all doctors are qualified or knowledgeable enough to perform open-heart surgery, not all dentists are trained or experienced enough to provide dental implants. Typically, you will want to find someone who specializes in cosmetic dentistry and prosthodontics, such as a prosthodontist or oral surgeon, who also has a long track record of success.
Remember, cosmetic dental surgery is a craft, and the quality of any dental work done will ultimately reflect the quality of the person doing that work.
Choose wisely, review case studies, look at before and after results, read testimonials, and read what they write. Make the best-informed decision possible.
Why Choose Dental Implants?
Dental implants are the treatment and solution of choice for prosthodontists, dental professionals, and patients who are missing one, a few, or all of their teeth and those with failing teeth or severe periodontal disease.
The advantages of dental implants are three-fold: structural, anatomical, and aesthetic.
Advantage #1: Structural
Structurally, dental implants are nothing more than titanium posts or frames that are surgically embedded into your jawbone or, in the case of a frame-based system, are surgically placed on top of the jawbone and below the gums.
Unlike other tooth-replacement methods and alternatives, such as traditional dentures, however, dental implants have significant structural advantages.
The bone will fuse with titanium implants creating incredibly stable support upon which artificial teeth can be attached.
Other systems, such as traditional dentures and tooth-supported bridges, for example, do not offer this level of stability and structural soundness.
These alternatives to dental implants have drawbacks, including diminished longevity, a propensity to shift around, and potentially higher long-term costs.
Advantage 2: Anatomical
One of the most significant drawbacks associated with alternatives to dental implants, such as traditional dentures, is purely anatomical. Alternatives don’t stimulate the bone structures in the mouth.
Dental implants do.
Stimulation of the jawbones, typically achieved through chewing, is essential for not only the health of your teeth but also the very shape of your face. In a regular healthy mouth, the forces of mastication, or chewing, are transferred through the tooth into the roots and the jawbones.
Traditional dentures and bridges do not transfer those forces to the bones beneath since the gums support them in the case of the latter and surrounding teeth in the case of the former. Without adequate stimulation, bone tissue will waste away in a process known as bone resorption.
This is bad for many reasons, including a weakened jaw and a shrunken, less attractive facial appearance.
Advantage 3: Aesthetic
Opting for dental implants overcomes the problems associated with bone resorption, thus maintaining a fuller, younger-looking, and more objectively beautiful facial structure. The titanium posts upon which replacement crowns are attached act like a natural tooth’s roots transferring chewing and biting forces into the bone below, which helps to maintain both volume and density.
Dental implants can achieve a high level of aesthetic accomplishment, mimicking not only the shape, color, and form of natural teeth, but also it’s very structure, blurring the line between a human-made prosthetic and a natural extension of your body.
Two Types of Dental Implants
There are two primary types of dental implants: endosteal implants and subperiosteal implants.
Endosteal implants are embedded directly into the jawbone itself, the alveolar and basal bone of the mandible or maxilla, to be exact. If there isn’t enough viable bone tissue available, a bone graft procedure may be necessary.
Endosteal implants are the more commonly employed of the two types of artificial roots primarily in use today and typically consists of either a blade form or a cylindrical form.
The latter is the most widely used and consists of a tiny titanium screw and a cylindrical post that forms an abutment for dentures. The blade form is mostly similar except that it may have more than one abutment.
Subperiosteal implants, or frames, work a little differently. They aren’t directly embedded into the jawbone. Instead, a structural framework is placed directly on top of the bone (and below the gums), and the metal posts are affixed to that.
These metal posts act much like Endosteal implants and protrude through the gums providing points of support for dentures.
While not as common today compared to directly embedded implants, subperiosteal systems have been around since the 1940s and continue to be a viable alternative for patients who may not have adequate bone depth for conventional implants.
What Are Dental Implants?
After remarkable advances in dentistry in recent years, dental implants have become the treatment of choice for people missing one, a few, or all of their teeth, and for those with failing teeth or severe periodontal disease. Dental implants look and perform more like natural teeth. They are rooted in the bone, there is no artificial plastic on the roof of the mouth, and the need for adhesives and denture creams is eliminated.
More important, the use of dental implants does not impact healthy, adjacent teeth.
Dental implants are long-lasting tooth root replacements implanted into the jawbone to simulate the root of a pre-existing tooth. For qualified patients, replacement teeth can be restored immediately, returning a spectacular smile quickly — usually on the same day.
Unlike dentures or bridges, dental implants don’t move or shift, and they can last a lifetime.
A dental implant designed to replace a single tooth is composed of three parts: the titanium implant that fuses with the jawbone; the abutment, which fits over the portion of the dental implant that protrudes from the gum line; and the crown, which is created by a Prosthodontist (a specialist in the treatment planning and restoration or replacement of missing teeth) and fitted onto the abutment for a natural appearance.
History of Dental Implants
In 1952, Professor Dr. Per-Ingvar Branemark conducted an experiment where he utilized a titanium implant to understand the blood flow in the jawbone better. After the experiment, he discovered that the jawbone had entirely integrated with the implant. Dr. Branemark called the discovery osseointegration, and from that process was born the possibilities for human use.
Modern-day implantology was invented in 1965 when Branemark treated Gösta Larsson, a patient who was missing teeth due to severe chin and jaw deformities. Gösta Larsson was the first person in the world to receive titanium dental implants.
After years of careful research and study, dental implants have been refined with very high success rates.
Today some patients have had dental implant-supported teeth for more than 40 years!
However, it only gets better. Patients today can take advantage of the latest technology and revolutionary dental implant processes at a fraction of the price.
Advantages of Dental Implants
If you, like millions of adults, have lost one or more teeth, you may be all too familiar with the unpleasant consequences. For many people, missing teeth lead to an unattractive smile, embarrassment from loose dentures, pain, difficulty eating, and a less active lifestyle.
Conventional dentistry provides replacements for missing teeth using bridges, removable partial dentures, or full dentures. However, each of these treatment options often causes a new set of problems.
Bridges usually involve filing down adjacent, healthy teeth to provide a stable foundation for supporting the replacement teeth. These ground-down teeth often fail over time, resulting in additional dental problems and costs down the road.
Partial and full dentures are often unstable and uncomfortable, resulting in difficulty with speech and eating. These unnatural appliances often slip or move, and sometimes even fall out. The result is embarrassing and often results in a lack of confidence. This leads to an adverse change in lifestyle and, often, isolation.
Advantages of Dental Implants
- They can be used to replace a single tooth, a few teeth, or all the teeth on one or both arches of your mouth.
- They are fixed in place and do not move. Therefore, there is no slipping or clicking as with dentures.
- Implant supported teeth are the closest thing possible to natural teeth. They look, feel and function just like your natural teeth.
- Dental implants allow you to eat all the foods you like, just as with natural teeth.
- They have proven to be reliable with a great success rate.
- Along with your new teeth implants can be placed without impacting other healthy teeth. This is not true with traditional bridges, which require filing down of healthy adjacent teeth to support the bridge. These filed down teeth often fail within just a few years, requiring more and expensive dental work.
- Unlike bridges or dentures, dental implants are placed into and fuse with the bone in your jaws. This not only provides stability but prevents bone loss and atrophy that results from missing teeth.
- Dental implants provide a long-term solution to your dental problems, often lasting a lifetime. Traditional bridges usually must be replaced, often within five years or sooner.
- With dental implants, you avoid the pain and embarrassment of dentures. There is no fear of slipping or falling out, no need to avoid activities, no need to restrict what or how you eat, no wire in your mouth, no plastic on the roof of your mouth. In general, people with dental implants say they just live better than they did when they had dentures.
- Dental implants address the problem of bone loss.
- Natural teeth preserve the jawbone so when a tooth is lost, the bone around the missing tooth begins to erode and weaken. This can result in the loss of other teeth and the deterioration of your bone density and more important your dental health.
- When many or all your teeth are missing, the jawbone can experience significant atrophy, resulting in adverse changes to your facial features. People with dentures often look older and less attractive due to bone loss and other health issues that require attention. Conventional bridges and dentures do not address the problem of loss of bone in the area where teeth are missing.
- Dental implants avoid the bone loss problems caused by bridges and partial dentures. Because dental implants are anchored into the jawbone and do not rely on surrounding teeth, they perform naturally and promote a healthy bone. When a dental implant replaces a missing tooth, the fusion (or osseointegration) of the implant and bone provides stability, just as the natural tooth did.
- When missing all of your teeth, dental implants stimulate the bone, protect against atrophy, and help preserve your natural facial features.
How Dental Implants Saved My Life
Why Replace Missing Teeth?
Many adults at one time or another will experience tooth loss, whether it’s due to neglect, life experiences, or aging. Some will lose many or all of their teeth. Missing teeth can have a significant impact not only on one’s appearance but also on self-confidence and overall health.
Missing teeth can have a dramatic impact on a persons appearance.
People with bad or missing teeth usually avoid smiling and try to cover their mouths when they smile. They often avoid social or business situations because they are embarrassed about their teeth.
Many miss out on promotions, relationships, activities, and other life experiences because of their bad teeth, their missing teeth, or their ill-fitting dentures.
Beyond appearance, missing teeth can have a significant impact on a person’s self-confidence.
People with missing teeth often express a feeling of loss: that they have lost their youthfulness, or their sex appeal, or their ability to speak in public or to be active. It is only after their teeth are lost that many people realize that a healthy mouth is necessary for maintaining a high quality of life.
Teeth provide more functions than just the ability to chew. They are necessary for the health of the gums, jaw, and other teeth, as well.
The effects of missing teeth can be detrimental to long-term oral and medical health.
An Off-Bite Relationship
Having gaps where teeth are missing affects the way the jaw closes. For example, an opposing tooth will tilt or drift into an open space left by a missing tooth (teeth), causing the opposing jaw-line to have bite relationship problems.
Unattended tooth loss may cause TMJ (acute and chronic pain and problems with the jaw joint). Also, food can become trapped in open spaces, increasing the risk of decay and gum disease.
When a tooth is lost from gum disease or an extraction, the supporting bone in the jaw begins to dissolve. This process is called resorption.
The longer a tooth is missing, the greater the bone loss. Over time, more and more of the jawbone disintegrates until it becomes weak and noticeably smaller.
Healthy Lifestyle & Good Nutrition
As teeth are lost, it becomes harder to eat and chew food.
Studies have shown that 29% of denture wearers eat only soft or mashed foods, and 50% avoid many foods altogether.
Replacing a single tooth with a dental implant
If you have lost a single tooth due to an accident or from periodontal disease, that one tooth can be easily replaced using a dental implant.
Dental implants have become the treatment of choice for most patients looking to replace a missing tooth.
To replace a single tooth, a dental implant is inserted into the site where the tooth is missing.
At Willow Pass Dental Care, a prosthodontist performs this procedure under oral sedation to minimize any pain or discomfort.
The dental implant serves as a replacement for the root of the missing tooth. A small post called an abutment is then connected to the implant, and a replacement tooth is cemented on top of the abutment.
Your new tooth will look and function just like a natural tooth.
Avoiding bone loss
A good reason to replace missing teeth is your teeth stimulate the surrounding bone with each bite. This preserves the integrity of the bone.
When a tooth is lost, the bone is not stimulated and begins to shrink away. A dental implant keeps this bone intact and can prevent bone loss and gum tissue shrinkage, thus protecting surrounding healthy teeth.
Bridges and dentures do not provide this type of support and protection.
Also, because a dental implant replaces the root structure, the jawbone is better preserved.
A long-term solution
Regarding hygiene, a dental implant is much easier to clean as compared to a dental bridge.
The teeth that support a bridge will often get cavities and are at risk of failing in just a few years. Unlike a dental bridge, a dental implant cannot be affected by cavities and offers a much longer-term solution, often lasting a lifetime.
Replacing multiple-teeth with dental implants
Dental implants are the ideal solution for those who have lost multiple teeth due to trauma or periodontal disease or decay.
Missing teeth become a more significant problem as we grow older.
As we age, a more considerable effort is required to maintain our health and our appearance. While we may force ourselves to a strict regimen of diet and exercise, we can often neglect our teeth and face dental problems as we grow older. Teeth are prone to deterioration after many years of use. They can get worn down, chipped or cracked, and eventually lost. Tooth loss is sometimes due to physical injury but is often due to prolonged periodontal or gum disease.
Even people with good dental hygiene over the years face dental problems as they grow older. Many of the modern drugs we take as adults lead to dry mouth or other symptoms that impact our ability to fight cavities. Even with proper dental care, many older people face the loss of multiple teeth as they age. Having many missing teeth is not only a problem with how you look and feel but can also be detrimental to your health. Replacing these teeth is very important.
Dental implants are the preferred solution for replacing several missing teeth.
Just as with one missing tooth, several missing teeth can be easily treated with dental implants. Implant-supported teeth are permanently fixed in the mouth, unlike removable appliances like dentures. They don’t slip or click, and there is no worry about them moving or falling out when speaking, eating, or participating in activities. And because dental implants are placed directly into the bone, they help preserve the jawbone and prevent bone deterioration. Dental implants look, feel, and function like natural teeth, and can last a lifetime.
Dental Implants vs. Dentures
Another traditional approach to treating multiple missing teeth has been to use partial dentures. These are appliances made of plastic and metal that clip to adjacent healthy teeth to fill the gaps created by missing teeth.
- Partial dentures are much more cosmetic than they are functional, and they still often lead to embarrassment. People who wear partial dentures say they are often reluctant to smile, laugh or even speak in public because they are afraid their denture may slip, or that the wires may show.
- Partial dentures can significantly impact your ability to eat what you like, especially in public.
- Most people do not like the feeling of metal and plastic in their mouths.
- Just like dental bridges, dentures do nothing to prevent loss of bone in the jaw.
- Most people tolerate dentures because they think they have no other viable options.
All Your Teeth
Replacing All Your Teeth With Dental Implants
Did you know that more than 35 million people in the U.S. are missing all of their teeth on one or both arches?
Also, it is estimated that an additional 30 million people have bad teeth and periodontal disease and will face losing all of their teeth shortly.
In the past, the only solution for these patients has been full dentures.
Nobody Wants Dentures
The traditional approach to replacing a full set of missing teeth has been to use full dentures. A full denture is a set of artificial teeth that rest on the gum line and can often provide an excellent cosmetic result. However, dentures have some fundamental problems.
- Dentures are not fixed in place and tend to slip, move, and even fall out. This is why there is such a vast market for denture adhesive and creams.
- Dentures can be very uncomfortable and painful; they rest on the gums. Therefore, eating can be very unpleasant and challenging.
- With dentures, you have only about 25% of your natural chewing capacity. This significantly restricts what and how you can eat.
- Many denture wearers report a lack of confidence because of their dentures. While they can smile, they have trouble eating, singing, being active, and sometimes even talking without fear that their dentures will slip or fall out. And dentures can have an enormous negative impact on your social and business interactions.
- Upper dentures cover the roof of your mouth with plastic, which can be uncomfortable and significantly inhibit your ability to enjoy food.
- Also important, dentures do not stop the problem of bone loss. Long-time denture wearers often look much older than they are because of the loss of bone in their jaws.
Dental Implants are The Preferred Solution
Dental implants have proven to be an ideal solution for those missing all of their teeth on one or both arches:
- Dental implants are fixed in place and do not move. Therefore, a permanent set of replacement teeth can be attached to the implants and function almost like natural teeth.
- Dental implant-supported teeth can give you back 95% of your natural biting and chewing capability. You will be able to eat the foods you like without the embarrassment of worrying about your teeth.
- Dental implants look and feel like natural teeth. You will have the complete confidence to eat, speak, sing, laugh, be active, and do all the things you do with natural teeth, knowing that you have a beautiful smile and fully functioning teeth.
- Dental implants address the problem of bone loss. The implants are fixed into the bone, and when you eat, the implants exercise the bone and stimulate the growth and health of the bone. This is true even when you have only four implants on an arch.
A full arch of teeth can now be replaced with just four implants without bone grafting.
Dental implants have proven to be the preferred approach to replacing a full set of missing teeth, and are a much better solution than dentures. But choosing the right dental implant treatment plan can be confusing.
At Willow Pass Dental Care, we provide a consultative process to help patients make the right decision.
Today a full set of dental implants and teeth can be placed in a single day!
In the past, one of the drawbacks to dental implants has been that the procedure is complicated, involving several different dentists or specialists, and taking many months to complete. Many dentists still use this approach, but not Willow Pass Dental Care.
At Willow Pass Dental Care, patients often receive their dental implants and beautiful new teeth all on the same day. We can do this because we have all the specialists in one location.
We use on-site 3D i-CAT Scanning technology for treatment planning and have an on-site Dental Implant Lab to manufacture and fit your new teeth with the latest technology, techniques, and protocols.
Dental implants are life changing
Dental implants can restore you to an active lifestyle. Swim, ski, give business presentations, and eat what you like without worrying about your teeth slipping or falling out. Dental Implants are fixed in place.
Dental implants look and feel like your natural teeth. Dental implants are anchored into your jaw and can last a lifetime.
With poor-fitting dentures, replacement teeth can slip within the mouth, causing you to mumble or slur words.
Dental implants allow you to speak without the worry that dentures might slip.
Because dental implants are fixed and function like natural teeth, they eliminate the discomfort caused by removable dentures.
Sliding dentures make chewing more difficult.
Dental implants work like your permanent teeth, which allow you to eat your favorite foods with confidence and without pain or discomfort.
Dental implants give you back a terrific smile and help you feel better about yourself.
Improved oral health
Dental implants don’t require the grinding down of adjacent healthy teeth, as with a traditional, tooth-supported bridge.
Because nearby teeth need not be altered to support an implant, more of your teeth are left intact, improving long-term oral health.
Individual dental implants also allow easier access between teeth, improving oral hygiene.
Dental implants are very durable and will last many years. With good care, dental implants can last a lifetime.
Removable dentures can be uncomfortable, inconvenient, and embarrassing. They are troublesome to clean and often require messy pastes and creams to keep them from slipping.
Dental implants are fixed in place and provide a solution as close to natural teeth as possible.
With dental implants, you brush your teeth just like everyone else and obtain routine dental care from your regular dentist.
An investment in yourself
Dental implants are an excellent investment because they can provide a permanent solution to your dental problems.
Am I A Candidate for Dental Implants?
Almost anyone that has lost a tooth, several teeth, or even all of their teeth is a candidate for Dental Implants. The profession has undergone significant advances in the capabilities of dental restoration.
Conventional restorative dental crowns, bridges, partial and full dentures now are considered old-fashioned and obsolete compared to the more successful treatment of dental implant-supported restorative dentistry.
The aesthetic presentation is significant in our society. One may feel ashamed of a missing front tooth. In many cases, dental crowns, dental bridges, and partial dentures don’t present an acceptable solution. A dental implant can be very natural in appearance. Current dental implant restorative techniques are the best alternative to your original teeth!
Of course, each patient has specific needs. Willow Pass Dental Care thoroughly evaluates each candidate to determine the most appropriate plan of dental treatment.
We assess patients with precise dental conditions and determine the treatment approach to provide the best long-term functional and aesthetic results.
Although you will discuss and evaluate any medical conditions with the Willow Pass Dental Care doctors before surgery, the prosthodontists at Willow Pass Dental Care have provided dental implants for patients who have diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and patients who take multiple medications.