Replacing Missing Teeth With Dental Implants
What are dental implants?
Dental implants are today’s revolutionary teeth replacement method. Consisting of the same basic parts as a natural tooth, they are comprised of a root and a crown. The root (the implant) anchors the new tooth to the jaw, providing stability under the gums while the crown is the part visible above the gum line. Essentially, dental implants look, feel, and function much like natural teeth which makes them the best replacement option available.
How do dental implants work?
Dental implants are made of titanium—an artificial material also used by surgeons for artificial joints—that fuses with bone. When losing a tooth, both the root and the crown must be replaced.Here’s how it works at our office:
- Consultation and Treatment Planning—The process of replacing your tooth begins with a consultation with Dr. Wightman or Dr. Slovan, where they will gather imaging and medical and dental histories to ensure they have a complete picture of your current health. Our Surgeons will explore treatment options with you and make a plan that meets both your health goals and your budgetary needs.
- Extraction—We may be able to place the new implant at the same time as removal, but some cases require bone grafting prior to implant placement.
- Bone Grafting—If your jawbone lacks the mass needed to accept an implant, a bone graft will be performed before placement to ensure the target area is strong. Bone grafting is quite common and a procedure that is usually followed by several months of healing before implant surgery.
- Implant Surgery—A titanium screw is placed in your jawbone during a procedure that typically takes 1 hour. You will be anesthetized with a local anesthetic to numb the area during the surgery, so you will not feel a thing.
- Osseointegration—Once the implant has been placed, the process of implant fusing to bone immediately begins to take place. We cover the implant with surrounding soft tissue to allow complete fusion over the next 3 months.
- Final Restoration—Once the implant is fully fused to the bone, we place an abutment on the implant which connects it with the final crown restoration. Typically, this is done by your general dentist.
Anatomy of a Dental Implant
Step 1: Implant
We place the implant into the jawbone.
Step 2: Abutment
Your dentist places the abutment on top of the implant.
Step 3: Crown
Your dentist places the crown on top of the abutment.
Surgical Advances in Dental Implants
Dr. Wightman and Dr. Slovan use cutting-edge technology to place single stage implants. These implants require a minimum of six weeks of healing time before artificial teeth can be placed, but no second procedure is needed to uncover them. When no bone grafting is needed, the implant can be placed at the same time as the tooth extraction—further minimizing your number of necessary surgeries.
Dental implant placement is a team effort between Dr. Wightman or Dr. Slovan and your general dentist. Dr. Wightman and Dr. Slovan perform the initial tooth extractions, the actual implant surgery, and if needed, the bone grafting. Your general dentist fits and makes the permanent prosthetic crown.
Depending on the number of teeth you are missing and the complexity of your case, you can choose from a number of different teeth replacement options—from temporary to long-lasting solutions.
Time is of the Essence
What most people don’t realize is that when you lose a tooth, your jaw immediately begins to deteriorate. Like a muscle, your jawbone needs to be regularly stimulated to maintain its volume. Studies show that there is a 25% decrease in bone width within the first year of tooth loss. Clearly, bone replacement becomes more complex as time passes. The good news? Implants, once placed, act just like your natural teeth, protecting and preserving your bone structure, health, and appearance.
Full Mouth Dental Implant
Ball Attachment Denture
One option—which requires occasional denture adjustment appointments—involves having two implants placed in your lower jaw and a denture made that snaps onto these implants. This teeth replacement method will still allow movement of the lower denture, but it provides more stability while chewing than dentures without implants.
2. Implants Placed
3. Denture Attached
Bar Attachment Denture
If you choose to have Dr. Wightman or Dr. Slovan place four to six implants, depending on your jaw size or shape, into your lower jaw, you will find this to be a more stable option than the one above, allowing much less movement of the denture. After healing is complete, Dr. Wightman or Dr. Slovan will connect the implants with a custom-made support bar, and create a denture that has special internal retention clips that attach onto the support bar, enabling the denture to snap firmly into place.
2. Implants Placed
3. Denture Attached
Screw Retained Denture
Many patients prefer this third option which involves the placing of five or more implants in your jaw which attach to a permanent denture. Held in place by screws or clasps that secure it to the support posts or bar, your denture doesn’t touch the gum tissue, allowing you to clean under it without having to remove it.
2. Implants Placed
3. Denture Attached
The final option is to have your teeth individually replaced which most closely resembles the appearance of natural teeth. This often requires eight or more implants, including separate abutments or support posts and crowns for each one of the implants.
2. Implants Placed
3. Healing Completed
Immediate Dental Implants
Implementing the most advanced technology into our everyday practice is very important to us. Our cutting-edge TEETH-IN-A-DAY™ supply immediately functional and highly aesthetic implants by way of a minimally invasive, one-day procedure. Gentle, thorough, and superior care is our top priority, so we work in close collaboration with your general dentist to ensure optimal results.
Cost of Dental Implants
When comparing the cost of dental implants to other tooth replacement methods, such as dentures and bridges, dental implants last two to three times longer (over 25 years). Dentures and bridges may be initially less expensive, but dental implants are the better investment in the long run. Simply put, dental implants, when properly placed and cared for, can last a lifetime.
Jaw Bone Health
What is the price of going without dental implants? Since the jaw bone deteriorates as soon as a tooth is lost, damage is being done underneath the surface to the jaw bone and ultimately to the structure of the face. However, dental implants can prevent the distortion of the shape of a person’s face and additional cosmetic costs down the road because they integrate with the jaw bone, strengthening it and stimulating bone growth.
Quality of Life
The dietary restrictions and embarrassing moments that typically accompany dentures and bridges are not a part of the dental implant package. In fact, in terms of quality of life, dental implants give you back the ability to eat, laugh and smile with confidence. Priceless.
Financing for Dental Implants
We encourage you to make an appointment with us, so we can help you navigate your dental insurance and discover what portion, if any, of dental implant placement is covered. We understand that everyone’s budget varies, but we also know that dental implants are a crucial investment in your health as well as your appearance, so we want to do all we can to help you get the smile you deserve. Click here to view our financing information in further detail.
Schedule Your Consultation
The only way to receive an accurate price quote is to call us and come in for a consultation, and we can give you a specific price for your case. Please call us at Tacoma Office Phone Number 253-473-0651 to schedule your consultation.
Dental Implant Placement FAQ
Am I a good candidate for dental implants?
It is not uncommon to be missing a tooth. In fact, around 125 million Americans are missing at least one tooth, and fortunately, most are good candidates for dental implants. We know that missing a tooth can cause anxiety and embarrassment. Thankfully, not only are you not alone, but also dental implants may be an ideal solution for you. Schedule an appointment with us and find out if you’re a good candidate for this standard solution to missing teeth.
Are dental implants painful?
The vast majority of our patients are pleasantly surprised at how little pain is involved in the dental implant procedure. During the surgery, you will be properly anesthetized at all times, so you won’t feel anything. There is minimal postoperative discomfort, and any pain can be easily managed with over-the-counter pain medications.
Do dental implants ever fail?
Although implants can fail in very rare instances, they tend to be-overwhelmingly predictable and long-lasting. The success rates published in dental literature show a 95% success rate over a 15-20 day period. Our dental implants usually last a lifetime.
Do I need to be put to sleep for the dental implant surgery?
No! Some of our patients do request IV sedation so they can sleep throughout the procedure, while others request a local anesthetic, simply numbing the area in question. Ultimately, the level of anesthesia required for implant placement is up to the patient and the surgeon.
Are dental implants the best option?
Most patients agree that implants are the best option because they look, feel, and function like natural teeth. Unlike alternative teeth replacement options, they don’t slip or require dietary restrictions, and they can last a lifetime.
I was told I don’t have a lot of bone. Can I still get dental implants?
Generally, at least 8-10 millimeters of bone height is necessary in order to place a dental implant. When patients with inadequate jawbone desire implant placement, bone grafting is usually required first. Safe, reliable, and routine, bone grafting techniques are well researched and are quite predictable.
How long does it take for dental implants to heal?
Healing can take anywhere from 8 weeks to 6 months, depending on your jawbone mass and other details of your particular case. Healing time varies significantly, depending on the quality of the bone in the implant site. We will be able to give you a better idea of what to expect at a consultation where we can examine your mouth and consider your oral health history. But when it comes to time off work, patients typically take anywhere from a few hours to a few days, depending on the type of sedation, the implant site, and their pre-op health.
I’ve heard a lot about getting dental implant restoration done in one day. Can I get dental implants treatment completed in one day?
Yes and no. While it is possible to come into our office and have your remaining teeth extracted, implants placed, and a fixed restoration done all in one day, keep in mind that we usually require 2-4 preliminary appointments leading up to that day. And during the one-day procedure, the new teeth replacements are temporary. After two to four months of healing, we place the final restorations.
Are dental implants expensive?
The cost of dental implants depends on a variety of details pertaining to each patient’s case. For some, initial costs may seem significant, but due to the long-term predictability and durability of implants, they truly are the most cost-effective treatment option for replacing missing teeth. Indeed, the freedom they provide, allowing you to smile with confidence once again is priceless. The best way to get an accurate estimate of what dental implants may cost for you is to make an appointment with us. Call us today! Tacoma Office Phone Number 253-473-0651
Evergreen Oral Surgery
Our Latest Patient Testimonial By Jerry C
- Jerry C
Our Latest Patient Testimonial By Joan M
While I am always nervous about dental procedures, Dr. Wightman and his staff quickly put me at ease. Besides thoroughly explaining the procedure, I was sent home with instructions (with the follow-up appointment written on the back), an after care packet that included gauze, salt packets, tea bags, lip balm AND ice cream. I received two follow-up phones as well. This is a very caring dental office that goes above and beyond to put patients at ease.
- Joan M
Our Latest Patient Testimonial By Theresa M
I had to have surgery to lift my sinuses for my implants. The whole staff made me feel calm with nothing to worry about. The Doctor was fabulous! So easy to talk to and he explained everything to me. Today is my day after surgery and I can’t believe I don’t really have any pain! This was actually a great experience.
- Theresa M