Dr. Michael Schwartz and Dr. Julius Hyatt are considered two of the premier dental implant surgical specialists in the country. Most of our dental implant patients are referred to our practice because of their vast expertise with dental implant surgical procedures. If you are missing teeth, Dr. Schwartz or Dr. Hyatt will thoroughly evaluate your situation to determine if you are a candidate. If you qualify, dental implant treatment is usually the preferred, superior method of tooth replacement.
Benefits of Dental Implants
- Prevents the bone resorption (deterioration) that occurs when teeth are lost or removed
- No compromise to the health of adjacent teeth, as with bridges and partials
- Highest success rates and best long-term prognosis based on numerous scientific studies
- Overall quality of life is enhanced with replacement teeth that look, feel and function like natural teeth
- Implants preserve the integrity of facial structures
- The mouth is restored as closely as possible to its natural state
- Your smile is improved when replacement teeth look more like natural teeth
- Adjacent teeth are not compromised to replace missing teeth
- Convenient oral hygiene
- Improved appearance
- Restored self-esteem and renewed self-confidence
And dental implant treatment is the most cost-effective treatment option long-term!
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What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a substitute tooth root that serves virtually the same function as a natural tooth root. It preserves bone and provides a stable foundation for a replacement tooth that looks, feels and functions like a natural tooth. Dental implants are made of titanium, which is a biocompatible material used in orthopedic implants.
How do dental implants compare to bridges, partials and dentures?
Dental implant treatment has a better long-term prognosis than other methods of tooth replacement, such as bridges, partials and dentures, which may need to be replaced several times. Since dental implants prevent the bone resorption (deterioration) that occurs when teeth are lost or removed, the natural appearance of the smile is preserved.
Unlike bridges and partials, dental implant treatment does not compromise the long-term health of the adjacent teeth. There is no need to cut teeth down to place a bridge, and there are no hooks, such as those on removable partial dentures that cause teeth to become loose. In addition, dentures and partials accelerate the bone resorption process, which also causes the appearance of premature aging.
Will my new teeth look natural?
Your new replacement teeth will look, feel and function like natural teeth. And since dental implant treatment is the only tooth replacement option that prevents bone resorption, which can cause your smile to look unnatural, the long-term esthetics are usually much better than with any other treatment option.
Who is a candidate for dental implant treatment?
Nearly everyone who is missing one or more teeth and in general good health is a candidate for dental implant treatment. There are a few medical conditions that can undermine the success of implant treatment, such as uncontrolled diabetes. However, there are very few conditions that would keep someone from having implant treatment altogether.
Quality and quantity of available bone for implant placement is more often a factor in qualifying for dental implants than medical conditions. However, even people who have lost a significant amount of bone can qualify for dental implant treatment with additional procedures to add bone or create new bone.
How Long Does It Take To Complete Treatment?
The length of treatment time depends largely upon whether someone is a candidate for Immediate Function procedures. Patients who qualify for this type of treatment receive their replacement teeth the same day implants are placed, although there is a significant amount of treatment planning that takes place prior to implant placement.
For the majority of patients, treatment can take anywhere from several weeks to several months, depending upon the quality of the bone in which the implants are placed. If procedures are needed to augment the bone, the total treatment time is usually somewhere between six to nine months.
Is the Surgical Procedure Painful?
Most patients report that the discomfort is far less than they expected, and is much like having a tooth extracted. And although everyone is different with regard to pain tolerance, most patients are very comfortable simply taking Tylenol afterward.
What Is Involved With Taking Care of Dental Implants?
The home care recommended varies depending upon the type of implant supported replacement teeth. For example, a single implant supported crown is cleaned like a natural tooth, with regular brushing and flossing. Implant supported bridges that replace a few teeth are cleaned like tooth supported bridges, brushing and flossing with a floss threader.
Home care is a little more complicated for people who are missing all of their teeth, in that special brushes and floss are often recommended. With overdentures, it is necessary to clean the implant attachments, as well as the overdenture. Permanently fixed implant supported replacement teeth are cleaned like all other bridges.
In all cases, it is recommended that patients see their dentist and hygienist at least twice each year. It is usually recommended that the patient see the surgical specialist at least once each year as well. These visits, combined with proper home care, are essential to the long-term success of implant treatment.
What Is the Cost of Implant Treatment?
An investment in dental implant treatment is an investment in overall health, appearance and well being, since it involves preserving the integrity of facial structures, as well as replacing missing teeth.
The actual cost of implant treatment is based on a number of factors, such as the number of missing teeth being replaced, the type of implant supported teeth (treatment option) recommended and whether additional procedures are necessary to achieve the proper esthetic and functional result.
There is often a misconception that there is a set cost for each implant. The fees are calculated based on the amount of time your dentist and surgical specialist anticipate spending to complete treatment (implant placement, other surgical procedures, fabrication of replacement teeth, etc) as well as the estimated cost of implants, other components and materials necessary to complete treatment and dental laboratory fees.
The fee is usually comparable to other methods of tooth replacement; however, long-term, implant treatment is generally more cost effective than other options, such as bridges, partials and dentures, which need to be replaced every 5-10 years.
Is Dental Implant Treatment Covered by Dental Insurance?
Insurance coverage of implant treatment depends on the individual policy. However, it is rare to receive any substantial coverage. Since the benefit coverage is determined strictly by the amount the employer wants to spend on the policy, there are major limitations on most dental insurance plans.
In reality, the plans are only designed to cover routine maintenance, emergencies and basic care. The insurance companies use statistical data to determine the most common procedures submitted on claims, and then they set their own “usual and customary fee” schedule for these procedures. They also determine the specific restrictions and limitations for each plan. Because the plans are only intended to cover minimal care, there is an annual maximum benefit of $1,000-$1,500 on most plans.
Although most companies exclude implants as a covered benefit, many of the will pay the same benefit they would cover for the lowest cost alternative treatment option (partials and dentures) and some of the diagnostic records, if a specific request is made for alternative benefits. Even if an individual policy includes implants as a covered benefit, the benefit is still limited to the annual maximum offered by the policy.
Does Medical Insurance Cover Implant Treatment?
There are a few cases where medical insurance is available for people who are missing all of their teeth, and as a result, have medical complications. This type of coverage depends solely on the individual policy. Other than these situations, medical coverage is very rare.
Work related injuries and other types of accidents are the other cases that are sometimes covered by insurance. Medicare does not cover implant treatment. All in all, it is best to assume that there is no medical insurance coverage available.
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Replacing A Single Missing Tooth
When a single tooth is missing, the two most common treatment options are the traditional tooth supported bridge and an implant supported crown. When a traditional bridge is used to replace a missing tooth, the adjacent teeth are cut down into peg shapes in order to fit the cemented bridge in place.
This method of tooth replacement can be very esthetic and functional for a period of time. However, a tooth-supported bridge does not replace the bone that previously surrounded the root. Since there is no longer a root to hold the bone in place, the bone deteriorates, or melts away.
Replacing Multiple Missing Teeth
When more than one tooth is missing, there are three common treatment options: the traditional tooth supported bridge, a removable partial denture and an implant supported bridge. In this situation the benefits of implant-supported teeth are even more obvious.
A removable prosthesis, such as a partial denture, actually accelerates the bone resorption (deterioration) process that occurs naturally when teeth are lost or removed. In addition, the clasps that hold the partial denture in place put significant pressure on the natural teeth they hook onto, loosening them and in many cases, eventually leading to the loss of those teeth. Most patients with partial dentures state that they are uncomfortable and that they rarely wear them.
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The first step is an examination and consultation with your dentist to determine whether or not you are a candidate for implant treatment. This usually involves x-rays and may include taking impressions for models of your teeth. During the examination, your dentist will be evaluating the area(s) of your mouth where teeth are missing and the type of replacement teeth that will best meet your needs. A review of your health history will indicate whether there are any medical conditions that could prevent you from being a candidate for implant treatment.
Following the initial consultation, you will be referred to one of our surgeons for a comprehensive surgical evaluation. This will typically be for the purpose of further evaluating the quality and quantity of available bone to determine the number of implants necessary, as well as whether additional procedures may be needed to obtain the desired functional and esthetic result.
If you have already lost a significant amount of bone, the need for procedures to add (graft) bone, or create new bone will also be evaluated. Special 3D imaging might also be recommended to provide a more detailed view of your teeth and the surrounding bone and facial structures.
Once the surgical evaluation has been completed, a treatment plan will be developed with your general dentist to meet your individual functional and esthetic needs.
Implant Placement Procedure
The implants are placed in the bone using a gentle surgical technique. With the type of implant used by our surgeons, in many cases, it will not be necessary to place the implant completely under the gum tissue, which eliminates a second surgical procedure.
Following the implant placement procedure, the implants are left undisturbed for a period of several weeks so that the bone can be remodel around the implants to form a strong biological bond to them.
Abutment Attachment Procedure
You will have some type of temporary replacement teeth while the bone is remodeling around the implants, so you will never have to be without teeth during treatment. Following the appropriate bone-remodeling period, a small connector post called an abutment is attached to each implant. The permanent replacement teeth will eventually be attached to the abutments.
Fabrication of Replacement Teeth
Your dentist will then take impressions of your teeth and the implant abutments; place temporary replacement teeth and select the appropriate shade for your replacement teeth. The laboratory technician will fabricate your replacement teeth and the underlying structures that will be attached to the implants. Then your dentist will try the replacement teeth for proper fit and attach them to the abutment.