Can Anyone Get Dental Implants?
In most cases, anyone healthy enough to undergo a routine dental extraction or oral surgery can be considered for a dental implant. Patients should have healthy gums and enough bone to hold the implant. They also must be committed to good oral hygiene and regular dental visits. Heavy smokers, people suffering from uncontrolled chronic disorders — such as diabetes or heart disease — or patients who have had radiation therapy to the head/neck area need to be evaluated on an individual basis. If you are considering implants, talk to your dentist to see if they are right for you.
Does Insurance Cover the Cost of Dental Implants?
In general, dental implants are not covered by most dental insurance plans at this time.
What Is Involved in Getting a Dental Implant?
The first step in the dental implant process is the creation of an individualized treatment plan. The plan addresses your specific needs and is prepared by Dr. Ascencio and his Treatment Coordinator. This approach provides coordinated care based on the implant option that is best for you.
Dr. Ascencio will do a comprehensive examination. During the exam, he will review your medical and dental history, take X-rays, and create impressions of your teeth and gums so that models can be made. In some cases, Dr. Ascencio may also order a computed tomography (CT) scan of your mouth. This scan will help Dr. Ascencio determine how much jawbone is available to hold the implant in place. It also will show the location of structures such as nerves and sinuses (located above your upper teeth) so they can be avoided during surgery.
If the X-rays show that your jaw does not have enough bone to hold an implant, then a bone graft will be required. A bone graft involves taking bone from another source and adding it to your jaw. It may take up to twelve months for the transplanted bone to grow enough new bone to support a dental implant.
Next, the Implant Placement, which is a small post made of titanium, is placed into the bone socket of the missing tooth. As the jawbone heals, it grows around the implanted metal post, anchoring it securely in the jaw. The healing process can take from six to 12 weeks.
Once the implant has bonded to the jawbone, a small connector post — called an abutment — is attached to the post to securely hold the new tooth. To make the new tooth or teeth, Dr. Ascencio makes an impression of your teeth, and creates a model of your bite (which captures all of your teeth, their type, and arrangement). The new tooth or teeth is based on this model. A replacement tooth, called a crown, is then attached to the abutment.
Dr. Ascencio will also match the color of the new implant crown to your natural teeth. Because the implant is secured within the jawbone, the implant crown looks, feels, and functions just like your own natural teeth.
Instead of one or more individual crowns, some patients may have attachments placed on the implant that retain and support a removable denture.