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Dental Implant Information

Center for Implant Dentistry (319-335-7169)

illustration of implant

Implants are very durable and will last many years. They require the same “maintenance” as real teeth, including brushing, flossing and regular dental check-ups. Dental implants can help restore almost anyone’s smile even if natural teeth have been lost to injury or disease.

A very common reason people consider implants is because a sliding lower denture makes chewing and talking difficult. Implants can also replace individual teeth and partial bridges in the upper and lower jaws. The majority of patients treated with dental implants experience a significant improvement in their ability to chew food and feel more comfortable.

Dental implants are permanent fixtures of titanium posts anchored to the jawbone and topped with individual replacement teeth or a bridge that screws or cements into the posts. Implant technology and materials used today in the United States were developed more than 30 years ago in Europe. The success rate for implants is remarkable: 98 percent for lower implants and 91 percent for upper implants.

Nearly everyone who can have routine dental care can successfully use implants. Many people who consider implants have removable, conventional dentures for lower and upper jaws, or have removable bridges that clasp to adjacent teeth. A permanent bridge supported by 2-4 metal posts in the lower jaw, accompanied by a complete conventional denture for the upper jaw, is a very common use for dental implants for people who wear complete dentures. Dental implants include strategically placed posts -- one, a few or several -- which serve as artificial tooth roots for a permanent bridge of non-removable, stable, natural appearing replacement teeth, in many cases when patients have many of their own teeth remaining.

Single teeth or a full arch of teeth, which have been extracted due to injury or disease and replaced with a removable bridge, can be replaced with dental implants. The teeth can be replaced by a non-removable, fixed bridge or by an overdenture that may help with facial support. Implants are very durable, will last many years, and require the same "maintenance" as real teeth, including brushing, flossing and regular dental check-ups.

To ensure the best possible outcome, prospective implant patients are screened by a team of dental implant specialists at the UI College of Dentistry. The team includes either a periodontist or an oral and maxillofacial surgeon who implants the posts into the patient’s mouth, and a prosthodontist who designs and makes the replacement teeth or permanent bridge. At the screening appointment, the specialists use an X-ray of the patient's mouth to determine if the bone in the jaw is adequate to hold the titanium posts. Models of the mouth may be made using a soft, pliable plastic compound.

The models accurately show where the gaps are located and provide measurements for a replacement tooth or a bridge. Treatment with dental implants is complicated and takes meticulous planning for best results. Additional X-rays and models of the mouth may be necessary.

Treatment and fees

When the team determines the number, type and location of the dental implants, the surgical phase of treatment can begin. From the diagnostic information the prosthodontist determines where the implants should be placed and will most often fabricate a guide for the surgeons from the models of the patient's mouth. Implants are placed by the periodontist or oral surgeon and the individual teeth or bridgework are restored by a prosthodontist.

Most often, the implants replaced today only require one surgical procedure using a local anesthetic and sedative. However, there are occasions when the implants may require two surgical procedures. This is determined on an individual basis. After the procedure, the gums may be sore during initial healing, usually for seven to ten days. There may be additional soreness in the gums as the bone grows around the titanium posts until they are totally healed. This may take several weeks. If you have worn a bridge or false teeth before the first surgery, you may need to wait seven to ten days before the bridge or false teeth can be adjusted and lined with a soft material to eliminate pressure on the implants.

It takes as little as six weeks to as much as three to four months for lower jaw implants to heal completely and as little as six weeks to as much as six to nine months for those in the upper jaw. The healing time is determined on an individual basis and by the type of implant used. Following adequate healing, the prosthodontist will begin a series of appointments to fabricate the bridges or individual teeth that will be placed onto the titanium posts to replace the missing teeth.

Treatment time from placement of the implants until final restoration may take three to twelve months. Fees are based on the number of implants placed and the type of final restoration. They may range from $1,000 to $25,000 depending upon the patient’s needs. The fees can be more accurately determined following the definitive diagnostic work-up by the prosthodontist and surgeon team members and will be dependent on many factors, such as patient needs, etc. Dental insurance may cover a portion of the treatment costs.

Caring for dental implants

Following your treatment, routine maintenance, recall evaluations and X-rays will be necessary to insure the long life of your restoration. These visits are not covered in the original fee. If the screws which hold the fixed bridge in place should break, they usually can be fixed. The implant can last a very long time but the teeth on the implants require routine maintenance and are subject to wear and tear just as any artificial substitute. (Breakage of the implant parts is rare but is usually repairable.) Thank you for considering the Oral and Maxillofacial Implant Center for your dental implant needs.