Diagram of a dental implant

What Are Dental Implants?

Facts about natural teeth structure can help you understand why dental implants are your best option for replacing missing teeth.  Dental implants mimic the structure and function of natural teeth.

A natural tooth has two parts:

  • Root – Tooth roots grow deeply in your jawbone and stimulate it. When a tooth is missing, the unstimulated bone begins to resorb or deteriorate.
  • Crown – A crown is the white portion of a tooth above your gumline.

A dental implant is an artificial tooth with three parts:

  • Artificial root – A screw-shaped fixture functions like a natural tooth root, stimulates the bone and provides a strong foundation for a replacement tooth.
  • Abutment – An attachment for the top of an implant that supports a dental crown.
  • Dental crown – Often referred to as a “cap,” a crown replaces the white portion of your tooth from the gumline up.

The Benefits of Getting Dental Implants?

While there are other treatment options for replacing missing teeth, dental implants have many unique benefits:

Designed To Last a Lifetime

Because dental implants are designed to last a lifetime, they have a better long-term success rate than any other tooth-replacement option.

Dental implants have 95% success rate, with 20+ year lifespan
  • Documented clinical research shows that dental implants have a success rate of over 95%.
  • The longevity of implants is more than 20 years—significantly higher than tooth-supported bridges and partial or full dentures.

Preserves Bone and Facial Structures

Bone resorption, or deterioration, is one of the most severe consequences of missing teeth.

  • When you replace a tooth with an implant, your oral surgeon places the root form in your jawbone, which stimulates it.
  • If all your teeth are missing, replacing them with an implant-supported denture will prevent jawbone shrinkage.
  • Jawbone preservation supports your facial muscles and prevents premature facial sagging.

A Healthier Smile

Unlike a dental bridge or a partial denture, dental implants do not compromise the long-term health of adjacent teeth.

  • Tooth-supported bridges – The healthy tooth on either side of the missing one must be cut down to accommodate a dental crown and support the bridge.
  • Partial denture – Clasps on the partial denture hook onto your natural teeth to secure it. Clasps can weaken and loosen the anchor teeth so much that they require removal.

Natural Appearance

Dental implants were developed to replicate the appearance of your natural teeth.

  • Preserves your bone – Bone preservation helps to maintain the natural appearance of your smile.
  • Exact tooth position and appearance – Your surgeon places your dental implants in the precise location for your dentist to create a lifelike crown that matches the shape and shade of your natural teeth.

Better Hygiene and Maintenance

Caring for dental implants is as easy as caring for natural teeth.

  • You will be able to brush and floss your implant-supported tooth.
  • Your hygienist will clean your new implant crown during your regular hygiene maintenance appointment.
  • Your dentist will ensure the gum tissue around the implant and crown are healthy.
  • If you have an implant-supported bridge or denture, use a soft-bristled toothbrush or denture brush, non-abrasive cleaner, and a water flosser to keep your implants and teeth clean.

How Do I Know If Dental Implants Are Right for Me?

A comprehensive exam and an explanation of your treatment options will help you decide if dental implants are right for you.

During your consultation, an oral surgeon will evaluate these factors:

  • 1Quality and quantity of available bone for supporting dental implants
  • 2Number of dental implants required to create the optimal result
  • 3Other procedures that may be necessary to prepare the surgical site

We utilize leading-edge technology, such as 3-D cone beam imaging, to obtain the most accurate, detailed view of your teeth, bone, and facial structures. The technology helps us provide the most precise diagnosis and treatment planning available.

How We Diagnose and Determine Candidates for Dental Implant Surgery

Before you receive dental implants, we determine if you are a candidate for this treatment with the following steps:

  • Carefully review your medical and dental histories
  • Take a 3-D CBCT (cone-beam computed tomography) scan of your facial and oral anatomy
  • Perform a comprehensive exam
  • Assess whether your oral and overall health will promote a successful outcome for dental implants

What Types of Prostheses Are Used with Dental Implants?

Dental implants accommodate a variety of prostheses or types of artificial tooth replacement. Whether you are missing a single tooth, multiple teeth, or all your teeth, your oral surgeon can replace them with dental implants. Your dentist places the prosthesis or restoration, and you can choose one that fits your needs and budget.

A Crown

Designed for individual implants, it replaces the white portion of your tooth above the gumline.

Fixed Dental Bridge

A fixed bridge replaces one missing tooth or two or more missing teeth in a row.

Complete Dental Prosthesis

A complete dental prosthesis, or denture, replaces an entire arch of upper or lower teeth.

Does Dental Insurance Cover Implants?

Your dental insurance might provide some benefits for your dental implant procedure. Please bring your insurance information with you to your consultation. We will verify if your insurance offers any benefits and provide you with a treatment estimate. For your convenience, we accept a variety of payment options, including CareCredit® financing.

Dr. Hyatt discusses how the cost of dental implants compares to other options for tooth replacement.

How Are Dental Implants Placed and Restored?

Although no two patient cases are the same, a dental implant procedure can include extractions, bone grafting, implant surgery, and restoration, which has several phases.

Figure of a tooth extraction

Extractions

Your oral surgeon will remove teeth if needed before placing dental implants. If you do not have enough bone for an implant, bone grafting will follow. Sometimes, tooth removal, grafting, and implant placement are completed at the same time. But you may have a waiting period of several months for the extraction and graft to heal.
Figure of bone grafting

Bone Graft

Your jawbone anchors dental implants, so if you lack bone volume, your oral surgeon will graft bone before placing implants. Your surgeon will explain if the graft needs healing time or if implants will be placed right away.
Figure of an initial implant

Implant Surgery

Your surgeon will administer IV sedation or general anesthesia before your surgery. After preparing the surgical site and using 3-D technology to precisely place the dental implant, your surgeon will attach a small cover screw to the implant.
Figure of a temporary implant crown

Temporary  Restoration

Your dentist will place a temporary crown on each implant you receive or a temporary bridge or denture over multiple implants. Over the next three to four months, the implants will heal and fuse to your jawbone.
Figure of an abutment placement

Abutment Attachment

After your jawbone and implant fuse and form a solid foundation for replacement teeth, you will return to our office. Your surgeon will attach an abutment, or connector, to each implant. A custom abutment allows your dentist to design the ideal shape of your replacement teeth.
Figure of a full implant

Replacement Teeth

The final phase of treatment is designing and fabricating your final replacement crown, bridge, or denture. Your dentist will take impressions of your teeth and the abutments. After determining the best shade to match your natural teeth, your dentist will send instructions and the impressions to a dental technician who will custom craft your replacement teeth. When your new smile is ready, your dentist will place the teeth in your mouth and check them for fit and bite. Your dentist will attach your replacement teeth to the abutments to complete your treatment and new smile if you approve.

For more information about dental implants visit our frequently asked questions guide.

Dental Implants vs. Dentures – Which is Better?

Dental implants outperform removable complete dentures in many ways.

Dentures

  • A bottom denture rests on your jawbone, while suction holds a top denture in place.
  • When you eat or speak, a denture can lift, slip, or fall out.
  • When all your teeth are missing, your jawbone will shrink over time, your denture will not stay in place, and your facial muscles will sag.

Dental implants

  • Dental implants fuse with your jawbone to solidly anchor replacement teeth.
  • Implants that replace individual teeth or support a denture are stable. Your denture will not lift, slip, or fall out.
  • Artificial tooth roots stimulate the jawbone and prevent shrinkage and premature facial sagging.

Are You Interested in Rejuvenating Your Smile with Dental Implants?

Dental implants can give you a healthier, younger-looking smile. Want to know if they are right for you? Schedule a consultation with a board-certified oral surgeon at the Maryland Center for Oral Surgery and Dental Implants. We have Baltimore-area offices in Owings Mills, Hunt Valley, and Bel Air.

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Recovery from Post Dental Implant Surgery

A variety of factors affect your recovery from dental implant surgery, including your health, bone quality, and which procedures you receive. But follow-up visits will help you recover steadily.

How Long Does It Take to Heal After Getting Dental Implants?

Typically, the healing time after dental implant surgery is three to four months, but each patient’s case is different. Some factors that influence your recovery include:

  • Tooth removal – When a surgeon must remove teeth before placing your dental implants, the areas might require bone grafts and time to heal first.
  • Bone grafting – If you need bone grafting, sometimes an oral surgeon will place implants immediately after the grafts. But your oral surgeon will explain if your grafts need to heal first, which takes about four months.
  • Your health – Patients with diabetes often heal slower. But well-controlled diabetes helps the healing progress. If you smoke, it restricts blood flow and hinders the healing process.

How Long After Dental Implants Can I Eat Normally?

You can eat the same day you receive dental implants, but it takes several months to resume your regular diet.

  • First 24 hours – You can enjoy room-temperature or cool—not icy—beverages without sucking through a straw, which can dislodge blood clots. Choose soft foods that are not chewy.
  • First week – Eat soft foods, and avoid hard, crunchy, or chewy foods.
  • Next three to six months – Increase the types of foods you eat while avoiding hard, crunchy foods.
  • After your jawbone and implants fuse – You can resume your normal diet—chew a juicy apple, eat your favorite vegetables, and eat the proteins of your choice.

How Long Do Dental Implants Last?

Research shows that dental implants have a 95% success rate. And after 20 years, implants function at 80-85% of their original capacity. But many dental implants last a lifetime. If you maintain good oral hygiene and keep your follow-up appointments with your dentist and oral surgeon, your dental implants will have long-term success.

Ultimately, your dental implants will allow you to enjoy any food you want, smile confidently, and have a better quality of life.

Find Out If Dental Implants Are Right for You at Our Baltimore Area Practice

If you are interested in dental implants, find out if they are right for you. Request a consultation with the Maryland Center for Oral Surgery and Dental Implants.