Frequently Asked Questions about Dental Implants

What is a dental implant?

A dental implant is a post or screw that functions as an artificial tooth root. The implant post is placed in the jawbone and mounted with an artificial tooth replacement. Implants look, feel and function just like natural teeth.

Who is a good candidate for dental implants?

Most people who are missing teeth qualify for dental implants, as long as they are in reasonably good health. An uncontrolled medical condition could compromise the success of dental implants treatment.

Another important factor is the quality and quantity of a candidate’s jawbone; it should be strong enough to support an implant post. Individuals with weak jawbone may require bone grafting to build up the bone before proceeding with implant placement.

How many teeth can be replaced with dental implants?

Dental implants can replace anywhere from a single tooth to as many as all of the teeth in the mouth. If replacing a single tooth, the implant post is topped with a crown. If replacing multiple teeth, two implant posts are placed and mounted with a dental bridge. If replacing all of the teeth in the upper or lower jaw, four implant posts are placed and attached to a permanent denture prosthetic; this is known as the All-On-4 system.

How are dental implants placed?

It usually takes at least two appointments to place dental implants. During the first appointment, the implant post is surgically placed in the jawbone. It is left to heal for a period of about three to six months. During this process, known as osseointegration, the implant post becomes part of the jawbone’s anatomy. Once the post has healed, a second appointment takes place. During that appointment, a small connector piece called an abutment is placed on top of the post. The abutment then connects the replacement tooth or teeth to the post.

Do dental implants hurt?

The dental implant placement process should not be painful. The area is completely numbed and sedation dentistry techniques can be used to keep patients comfortable and free of pain during the procedure. There may be some slight discomfort after surgery and in the days following, but it should be very tolerable. Applying an icepack to the cheeks and eating a soft foods diet can help.

How much do dental implants cost?

The cost of dental implant treatment depends on a variety of factors, including the number and type of implants being used, the design of the artificial teeth and whether procedures like bone grafting are required prior to implant placement.

Dr. Spencer and our team are happy to provide more information about dental implant cost during an in-office consultation.

Are dental implants covered by insurance?

Dental implants are considered optional and therefore not covered by most dental or medical insurance plans. However, benefits vary by individual policy. Please check your plan’s details.

Can implants be brushed and flossed?

Yes, implants can and should be brushed and flossed daily like natural teeth. Dr. Spencer can provide additional detailed instructions for keeping implants strong and healthy.

How long do dental implants last?

Dental implants can last indefinitely with the proper care, and they have a very high success rate. Most patients enjoy their implants for a lifetime.

Where can I learn more?

If you have a question about dental implants that wasn’t answered here, feel free to contact Dr. Spencer and our team. Call or email our San Diego-area dental practice today.