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Dental Implant Frequently Asked Questions

Answers from Your Trusted Houston Oral Surgeons

What is a dental implant? What is it made of?

Dental implants are basically substitutes for missing tooth roots. They’re able to perform the same functions as natural teeth, even the stimulation of bone growth in the jaw. This little prosthetic consists of three important parts – the biocompatible titanium that fuses with the bone, the abutment that shows above the gums, and the natural-looking crown that is attached at the end of the procedure.

How long does it take for dental implants to heal?

The healing process depends on a few factors. Namely, the density of your bone tissue, as well as which type of procedure you undergo. The All-on-4 dental implants treatment enables you to walk out of our Houston, TX oral surgery office with a full set of replacement teeth after only an hour. However, other services usually require a few months of recovery time between the surgical placement of your implants and the attachment of your restorations. If you require bone grafting in order to rebuild bone tissue, this will add to your recovery period. Please call Piney Point Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery in Houston to find out more details about common dental implant procedures.

What is the team approach to dental implant tooth replacement?

Why are dental implants a better choice for tooth replacement than bridges? Do they have any disadvantages?

While a bridge can often benefit patients who’ve lost a single tooth or a few teeth in a row, they often require cutting down perfectly healthy teeth near the affected area. Bridges also usually need to be replaced multiple times over a person’s lifetime, requiring additional time and effort. Dental implants, on the other hand, are a conservative treatment in that they preserve the maximum amount of tooth structure. In addition, they have much, much higher success rates and can last a person’s entire lifetime if cared for properly.

Disadvantages of dental implants include cost as well as long treatment time.

What is the timeline for dental implants?

How exactly do you place a dental implant?

First, Dr. Weil or Dr. Koo will expose the bone under the gums (a surgical guide is used in most cases to ensure accurate placement). A series of holes are then made into the bone to create an area for the implant, which is inset with a machine at a very low speed.

Could implants help patients with loose or ill-fitting dentures?

Actually, dental implants can be very helpful in making dentures more stable. Two or three implants can be used to hold the upper or lower in a more secure position; if you have four dental implants put in, a metal bar can be made that will hold the upper denture up above the roof of the mouth, making it easier to taste food. With the help of dental implants from our Houston oral surgery office, patients can also avoid bone deterioration, one of the most common problems that occur because of tooth loss.

Does the dental implants procedure hurt?

Most implant surgeries are not painful at all! In fact, many patients report that it’s much easier than having a tooth removed. Swelling is also very minimal after the procedure.

After implant surgery, can you return to work?

After undergoing a small implant surgery, patients can usually go straight back to work from our Houston office. After much more complex surgeries, though, we recommend that you spend two to three days resting.

Will dental implants last a lifetime?

Dental implants are a lot like natural teeth – if they’re cared for improperly or aren’t subjected to regular cleanings, they won’t last. However, with regular dental checkups and optimal oral hygiene, dental implants should last for a lifetime.

What causes implant failure?

Poor healing can cause implant failure, as well as active infections in the gums or bone. If the implant is placed improperly during surgery, this can also lead to failure.

Can a smoker have dental implants?

Yes. Although there is a higher risk of complications associated with smoking, Drs. Thomas Weil and Steven Koo are well-trained in conservative dental surgery and will do everything they can to make your dental implant procedure a success.

How much do dental implants cost?

The average cost for implants is around $2,000. Dental insurance will often help cover the cost. If you’re interested in buying multiple implants, the overall price usually goes down with each extra unit you purchase.

When are implants placed?

Approximately 3-4 months after a tooth is removed, the body will grow new bone to replace or refill the empty socket. Occasionally, it is possible to take out a tooth and place the implant at the same time. This is done in only special situations but may add slightly to the risk of compromise to proper healing of the implant. If your teeth have been missing for a long time, there may have been some atrophy or shrinkage of the bone requiring additional bone be grafted to that area, so the implant will be supported adequately when it is placed.

What are the risks of surgery?

Although it is natural to be concerned about the pain that may be caused by these procedures, most patients do not experience severe or significant postoperative discomfort. Pain medication and antibiotics will be prescribed for you to make your recovery as easy as possible. Postoperative infections occasionally occur, resulting in a need for additional treatment and in rare cases additional surgery. There is a risk of bruising or injury to nerves that provide sensation to the lips, cheeks, chin, and tongue resulting in numbness. This is not common and is usually temporary. In extremely rare cases, postoperative numbness can be permanent.

What happens after the implants have healed?

You will be referred back to the restorative dentist for preparation and placement of the crown, bridge, or removable prosthesis. Throughout all of the implant process, there is collaboration and consultation between the surgeon and the restorative dentist or prosthodontist to best coordinate your treatment.

Dr. Thomas Weil and Dr. Steve Koo are committed to providing their patients with comfortable, effective care that restores health and happiness as quickly as possible here at Piney Point Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery. Our practice serves patients from the greater Houston, TX area, including Stafford, Meyerland, Bellaire, Lamar Terrace, Galleria, Briargrove, Rice Military, Heights, Bunker Hill Village, Hunters Creek Village, Hedwig Village, Katy, and beyond. If you’d like to learn more about the numerous benefits of choosing dental implants, call us today and schedule an appointment.

How many dental implants will I need?

Most frequently, one implant per missing tooth is placed. Because many of the larger teeth (molars) in the back of your jaws can have two to three roots, the most common approach is to replace missing back teeth with larger implants or more than one implant per tooth, especially if there has been moderate bone loss or there is evidence of excessive biting force.

If you are missing many or all of the teeth in the upper or lower jaw, then as few as 3 or 4 or as many as 8 to 10 implants may be used to provide an implant supported bridge or denture prostheses.

Dental Implant Placement Using Bone Grafts

As a result of tooth infection prior to teeth extraction or atrophy after the tooth is removed there may not be enough bone to support the dental implant.

Sometimes a graft using synthetic bone (alloplast) is placed at the time of tooth extraction to help your body fill the socket with bone. This step will maintain the width or volume of jawbone you will need for implant placement.

If your tooth was removed many years ago, your jaw bone ridge may be extremely thin and you may not have enough bone left for implant placement. In this case, a bone graft using synthetic bone or natural bone from another part of your jaw can be placed next to the thin bone and allowed to heal for 4-9 months. After the graft has fused or become integrated with your preexisting bone, the alveolar ridge will be re-contoured and the dental implant will be placed.

You may also need bone grafting if the sinus cavities of your upper jaw are very large or very low and extending into the tooth bearing areas. This condition requires what is called a "sinus grafting procedure." Usually, it is performed in our oral surgery office with local and intravenous anesthesia. During this procedure, the membrane that lines the sinus will be located and elevated. Bone will then be added to restore height and ensure dental implants of an adequate length can be placed. This procedure can often be performed at the time of dental implant placement.