If you are considering getting a dental implant placed, you have probably done some research and found out there are many options and variables associated with the treatment. You may have even seen the informational video our office produced on the topic. Because of their rise in popularity, we wanted to take a moment to address some of the common questions associated with implants and how they might play into your dental treatment. Take a look!

1. What is a dental implant?

An implant is a bioengineered screw that serves as an "anchor" for replacing one or more teeth. It typically sits below the gum level and creates a mounting point for a crown, bridge or dentures. Implants come in a variety of shapes and sizes to meet a number of demands and spaces to fill. 

An illustration of an implant vs natural teeth.

An illustration of an implant vs natural teeth.

2. What is it made of?

Most commercially available implants are made of Titanium or a Titanium alloy. Titanium is an incredible material in that it resists corrosion while promoting bone growth. This factor allows your body to heal around the implant and create a strong bond. Some companies now make implants made from milled ziconia as well. These offerings are marketed as beneficial since they are metal free, but long-term research still needs to be done to confirm if they are as safe and predictable as titanium implants. 

3. Who is eligible to receive a dental implant? 

Implant recipients need to be generally healthy and have one or more teeth that need to be replaced. There are also certain restrictions on bone level height, bone health and extraction healing that need to be evaluated by a dental professional prior to implant placement. 

4. Who places the implant?

At our office, Dr. Kari Ann Hong places many implants in-house. However, depending on mouth location, health complications and patient needs, the expertise of a dental specialist may be utilized. Periodontists and Oral Surgeons are both extremely qualified and knowledgeable in the placement of dental implants. 

5. How is it used to replace a lost tooth?

After the implant is placed and heals, a small metal/zirconia flange (called an abutment) is screwed into the implant. Once the position of the abutment and the esthetics of the surrounding gums are approved, an impression is taken and sent to a dental lab. They will then make a crown that both fits on the implant and looks natural in your mouth. 

How the implant, abutment and crown work together. 

How the implant, abutment and crown work together. 

6. Does your office use a specific brand/type of implant?

Our office uses Straumann brand implants. These implants are made to meet very rigorous standards with the highest quality materials available. They manufacture a number of different sized implants that allow for many unique treatment options. Straumann is a very common and respected brand in implant dentistry, assuring that your implant will be serviceable for as long as possible. 


7. How is implant pricing structured?

Implant pricing is usually broken into three fees for the implant, abutment and final crown. Each fee will be for the procedure and the delivered "part." Naturally, this system will vary slightly office to office. 

8. Do I have to wait between having the implant placed and putting a crown on it?

In almost every circumstance, you will need to wait for your bone to heal around the implant before attaching a crown. This is to assure complete osseointegration before introducing stresses from biting and chewing. Some procedures/techniques allow for "immediate loading" of implants, but overall success rates are typically higher if you wait for the bone to heal first. The time you will have to wait varies person to person and needs to be evaluated by a dental professional. 

9. Will I be "awake" for the procedure?

At our office, we offer mild forms of sedations for implant patients with who have dental phobias. However, most people find the procedure both quick and very tolerable. If you do wish to be "asleep" for the procedure, there are a number of dental specialists who can arrange that treatment option. 

10. Will it look like a natural tooth?

Yes! Implants can be some of the most natural looking dental restorations available. Unlike a bridge, you can floss between the implant and the adjacent teeth, and unlike dentures, you will not need to remove it at night or before eating. Overall it is a great cosmetic and functional choice for tooth replacement. 

We hope we answered any questions you may have on dental implants. There are a number of options available in tooth replacement, and implants represent only one of them. If you would like to know more about implants, how they are placed and if they are appropriate for you, please call our office. We are always happy to answer any of your questions!