If you are missing one, many, or all your teeth, you may feel self-conscious or embarrassed about your smile. Tooth loss can make everyday activities such as eating and socializing difficult and can even have serious consequences for your self-confidence and general health. If your teeth have been missing for a longer time, then not only does your dental bite change for the worse, the bone supporting the teeth rapidly dissolves away as well.
Whether the tooth loss is secondary to gum disease (periodontal disease), trauma or other health issues, dental implants are a safe, effective and permanent solution that can restore your smile to new again. Dental implants will allow you to speak and eat with more confidence and comfort. Replacing missing teeth will also help maintain your bone structure and support your facial tissue. The success rate of dental implants is extremely high (97-98%) and medical research confirms them as the ‘gold standard’ for tooth replacement. This article discusses the major types of dental implants available and the cost of dental implants.
What Are Teeth Implants?
Put simply, a dental implant tooth is best described as a tooth root replacement. Dental implants consist of a titanium post that is surgically implanted into your jawbone beneath your gums. Once in place, this dental implant fuses to your jawbone and provides stability for artificial teeth: the teeth attached to the implants can be either:
- Single teeth – implant retained crowns
- Fixed dental bridges (non-removable; ‘all on four’; ‘all on six’; implant retained hybrid bridges)
- Retaining and stabilise dentures (implant supported over-denture)
Once healed into the jaw bone (after 3 months), the jaw bone grows on to the surface of the implant (a process called osseo-integraton) thus anchoring it in place very solidly.
Why Are Dental Implants Crafted Of Titanium?
Titanium is incredibly strong, durable and most importantly has been found to be highly biocompatible (inert; non-reactive) with the human body, making it an ideal material for dental implants. Because it’s biocompatible, your body accepts what is essentially a metal foreign body as its own and does not reject the implant. The surrounding bone bonds directly onto the titanium implant surface resulting in a very strong bond.
What Are The Benefits of A Dental Implant Tooth?
A dental implant retained crown (implant supported tooth) is usually crafted of ceramic and effectively matches the colour, shape, size and bite of your natural teeth. The implant does not feel any different to your existing teeth and remains solid and stable in your mouth. They are completely comfortable and provide a natural appearance no different from your other teeth.
Implants do not damage adjacent teeth (like dentures and tooth bonded bridges can) and most often require no extra maintenance procedures than you already perform for your existing teeth. They are firmly attached to your jaw bone and do not slip, shift or feel any different to your other teeth.
Dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth or multiple. If you have more than one tooth that needs replacing, you will likely need multiple dental implants.
Types of Dental Implants
The most commonly used dental implants are:
- Root form (shaped like the natural tooth root and inserted to the natural jaw bone; this type of implant varies in length from 5 to 15mm)
- Zygomatic implants (longer implants that insert into the cheek bones and are used when the natural jaw bone is depleted from bone resorption or previous surgery)
Root Form Dental Implants
How the dental implants work: All forms of dental implant are crafted of commercial grade titanium: a highly biocompatible material.
Appearance: Root form dental implants have the appearance of a tooth root and are embedded in the jaw bone. They comprise three parts: a titanium dental implant, an abutment attached to the top of the implant that sits above the gum line, and a tooth replacement (crown, denture or bridge) placed over the abutment. These implants are commonly between 8.5 and 15 millimetres in length and between 3.2 to 6 millimetres in width.
Ideal for: Root form dental implants are the most common types of dental implants. These are ideal for most cases of tooth loss.
Recovery time: After implant placement, there is usually moderate discomfort for 1-2 days. After which time the site rapidly settles and becomes almost pain free from that time. For the remainder of the healing phase (2-3 months) the implant site is completely comfortable and trouble free.
Mini or Short Dental Implants
How the dental implants work: Mini (or short) dental implants work via the same process as the other dental implant. However, the reduced length of the implant means they can be used where space (bone volume) is limited (such as severely resorbed jaws or where bone has been lost as part of a previous tooth extraction).
Appearance: Mini implants are small dental implants, created with a shorter length (5 to 6 millimetres) and diameter between 3.2 and 6 millimetres. They have the same structure as a root form dental implant and are crafted of biocompatible titanium.
Ideal for: Patients with limited space in their jaws (replacement of narrow lower jaw front teeth); placement where the bone volume is reduced (upper jaw molar sites in close association with the maxillary sinuses), placement near vital structures such as nerves and blood vessels (lower jaw sites in the molar tooth positions).
Recovery time: Mini implants require a similar short recovery time to root form dental implants.
Zygomatic Dental Implants
How the dental implants work: Zygomatic dental implants extend beyond the upper jaw bone to engage into the cheek bones (zygomatic bones). The main use of zygomatic dental implants is to enable dental rehabilitation of patients who have no effective jaw bone (and are thus unable have root form implants placed).
The use of zygomatic implants reduces the need for extensive bone grafting that would otherwise be required to be performed prior to placement of root from implants.
Appearance: Zygomatic implants are longer in length than typical root form dental implants. These implants range from 32 to 55 millimetres in length.
Ideal for: Zygomatic dental implants are an ideal alternative for patients with severe resorbed jaw bones (patients that may have had full dentures for 10 years or more; patients that have had previous surgical resections of their jaws) who are not able to have traditional root form dental implants.
Recovery time: The healing process for zygomatic dental implants is essentially the same as for root from implants (2-3 days of local tenderness with rapid resolution of discomfort thereafter).
The implants require 6-12 weeks healing time, but due to high initial stability, patients having zygomatic implants can have temporary dental bridges attached on the same day as the implant surgery (‘teeth in a day’; ‘same day teeth’; immediate dental bridges).
Once the healing process is complete (after 3 months), the final hybrid dental bridge restoration will be completed and inserted.
Am I A Candidate For Dental Implants?
To receive dental implants, you generally need to have healthy gums and adequate bone volume to support the implants (although this is not necessary with zygomatic dental implants). To ensure the long-term success of your implants, you must commit to keeping your dental implant and teeth healthy with meticulous oral hygiene and regular dental visits.
Your oral and maxillofacial surgeon will thoroughly examine your teeth and jaws and advise on the available options. Sometimes a CT scan will be necessary to confirm the finer details and allow for accurate surgical planning and creation of surgical guides. CT scans are completely rebated (zero out of pocket costs) by Medicare when ordered by a Medical Specialist (Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon).
Cost of Dental Implants
In Australia, a dental implant can cost anywhere between $3,000 to $5000. Ultimately, the total cost of your dental implant surgery depends on your health fund rebates, how many implants are needed, and the type of dental implant you require. Mini-implants ad root form implants are of similar cost, while zygomatic implants are more expensive. Root form implants can be placed under either local (awake) or general anaesthetic conditions. Zygomatic implants can only be placed in a Hospital setting under general anaesthetic
While this may seem expensive, modern dental implants are a high-quality, reliable treatment: the closest restoration we have to your natural teeth. During your initial consultation, your Specialist Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon will provide you with a detailed treatment quotation (including applicable Medicare and Health fund rebate codes) and discuss options on how to make treatment affordable.
The Specialist Surgeons at the Dental Implant and Specialist Centre are highly trained and skilled in providing successful comfortable implant treatment. Your treatment will be conducted with ‘state of the art’ equipment and techniques to ensure minimally invasive surgery and rapid recovery. Where applicable Medicare rebates (bone grafting and investigations) will be available to reduce treatment costs.
Talk to the Specialists at Dental Implant & Specialist Centre today to discuss the types of dental implants we have available.