Dental implants can be one of the most predictable and long-term tooth replacement options available. Implants are so well designed that they mimic the look and feel of natural teeth. Dental implants can even be used to help secure dentures or partials. Not everyone is a candidate for dental implants, however. We’ve put together some of the questions we are frequently asked to help you understand dental implants and how they may be able to benefit your health.

Anatomy of a Dental Implant

Dental Implant FAQ

What is a dental implant? An implant is a small titanium screw that is placed into the bone to replace the root structure of an individual tooth. A crown is secured to the top of this implant, and all you see is a beautiful, natural-looking tooth. 
What are the alternatives to a dental implant? In our doctors' opinions, there are no comparable alternatives to dental implants. A traditional crown and bridge or removable prosthetic (such as a partial or full denture) can be used instead of an implant, but they do not have the same function, natural look, and durability as an implant.


What are the benefits of an implant that make it the BEST option? Your alternatives to replace missing teeth are a bridge, a partial denture, or a full denture. To replace a single tooth, a bridge requires you to remove material from the surrounding teeth to be able to anchor the bridge. The fact that an implant stands on its own, and does not require involvement from surrounding teeth, makes flossing and cleaning effortless, in comparison to cleaning a bridge. This protects your bone and tissue and maintains the health of your entire mouth. If you are needing multiple teeth replaced, or already have a partial or full denture, implants can create an anchor for these restorations so that they will stay in place better, allowing for greater function and comfort.
Do I HAVE to go to an oral surgeon to do this? It depends on the circumstances needed to place the implant. At Yellow House Dental & Implant Center, if it involves extensive bone grafting or is in an area that might impact your maxillary sinus or mandibular nerve, then it would be best to see an oral surgeon. Most routine implant placements can be performed in our office. 
I'm experiencing anxiety about the procedure and/or dental work in general. What can I expect? Part of our mission, as an office, is to relieve any concerns or fears you have regarding your visits and to make you as comfortable and relaxed as possible. We know how difficult it can be for some patients to visit the dentist, and we work very hard to make sure you feel heard, valued and safe. Please let us know if you are experiencing anxiety regarding your treatment so that we can help you! For an implant procedure, the actual procedure differs based on your individual physiological needs. In general, however, you can expect to be numb during the procedure and experience minimal soreness or discomfort after the procedure. We will provide you with proper care instructions to guide you through the healing process. Our office will always check on you the day after your appointment, to make sure you are comfortable and to answer any follow up questions you may have. We will be there every step of the way; let us know what you need and we will do our best to help!
Is sedation necessary? Can I be sedated? Sedation is NOT necessary, but you absolutely can be sedated. In our office, we have a dental anesthesiologist that is available, when pre-scheduled. We can also refer you to an oral surgeon who can provide sedation, if you prefer. While this is a very personal decision that varies from patient to patient, we find that most of our patients do very well with local anesthetic only. Your doctor will be able to discuss this more in-depth and help you choose the option that works best for you.
Does your office provide IV sedation alternatives? In our office, we offer Oral Sedation or Nitrous Oxide as alternatives to IV sedation. Oral Sedation and Nitrous Oxide are both used to produce a calming effect in the body, without rendering you fully unconscious. 
How much is it going to cost? The cost varies from patient to patient, as this will depend on the circumstance and the quality of bone. The process starts with a complete exam, with a treatment plan and fee estimate tailored to each individual patient. Sometimes, to be able to prepare the bone for the best possible outcome, we have to perform a procedure called bone grafting. While this extra preparation will be reflected in the overall cost of the implant(s), it is a vital step to ensure the implant's overall success. 
What types of implants do you use in your office and how is this beneficial to me? The generic name for the implants we place in our office are endoseous implants. The brand names that we use in our office are Nobel and Straumann.  Nobel was started by Per-Ingvar Branemark who is the father of modern implantology and Straumann was started by the International Team for Implantology (ITI), of which Dr. Loveless is a member. These are the leading manufacturers and developers of implants in the world and the top two sellers of implants in the world.
What is your expertise/experience with dental implants? Dr. Loveless has been restoring implants for 30 years and placing them for 10 years. He has had extensive hands-on and classroom training in the science and physiology of bone, implants, bone grafting and placement of implants. He is an active member in the International Team for Implantology (ITI) and the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID). Dr. Ricks is also successfully mentoring with Dr. Loveless on implant placement and has considerable training in implant restoration, as well.
What are the different ways dental implants can be used outside of single tooth replacement? They can be used to attach, either fixed or removable, a full or partial denture for better function and comfort. This helps patients to regain some of their eating stability that could be compromised with a full or partial denture that does not have implants, thus allowing patients to maintain a more balanced diet. It can also help to hold a partial or full denture in place for better, clearer speaking function and a more secure smile.
How long does it take? Why so many visits? Why does it take so long? The whole process varies, primarily due to healing time. Every circumstance is different, but we do try to give you as close an idea as possible when preparing you for treatment involving an implant. Bone conditions and additional site preservation requirements can also contribute to the length of the process. The entire process, start to finish, can take anywhere from four months to a year. There are many steps involved to make sure that an implant is placed correctly, has integrated well with bone and tissue, and is then restored to the appearance of a natural tooth. The implant placement procedure itself should take about an hour for a single implant.
Why should I be worried about replacing a missing tooth? Every time you lose a tooth, you concentrate the forces of the mouth on fewer teeth and the chances of fracturing or breaking increases with each missing tooth. It’s a little bit of a domino effect. Once you lose one tooth, you are prone to losing more and more and more, as time goes on. If you lose a tooth on the lower, and have a tooth on the upper opposing that space, that tooth will begin to move down into the missing tooth’s place. This is called super eruption and can cause significant problems in your mouth.
What are the potential complications with dental implants? Are implants fool proof? Potential complications are possible with dental implants, just like any surgical procedure. These may include bleeding, discomfort, implant failure, failure of the implant site, infection, and potential nerve damage. Implants can also develop a condition called peri-implantitis. These complications are rare and our office has a very high rate of successful implant integration. We have a 3D x-ray in our office to help us more accurately view the bone and tissue and help minimize the risk of these issues occurring. Your doctor will be able to discuss this in greater detail with you at your visit. Implants are not considered to be fool-proof, but we take great care to ensure we do everything in our power to give each implant it’s best chance for success.
Is there anything that can be done to minimize the risk of complications? Proper planning, placement, post-operative care, and maintenance care are important to help minimize any risks of complications. Peri-implantitis is a condition that can occur when dental implants are not properly maintained. Our doctors will go over proper maintenance and care of your dental implants throughout the treatment process to ensure that you are prepared to take excellent care of your new smile. For more on dental implant maintenance, click here.
If you think of any other questions that we have not addressed here, please feel free to ask us!