If you have a missing tooth, a dental implant may be a good option for you. While you’re considering your options, you may be wondering what dental implants are, and what to expect if you choose to get them. 

Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know about dental implants so you can decide if they’re a good fit for you. 

What are Dental Implants?

A dental implant is a metal post, often made of titanium, that serves as a substitute for the root of your tooth. This post is anchored to your jaw, and is attached to a crown that serves as a substitute tooth. 

Since they are anchored directly to your jawbone, dental implants are extremely strong and durable. They’ll last a lifetime, and the attached crown will look just like a real tooth. 

Am I a Good Candidate for Dental Implants?

If you’re missing a tooth, you may be a good candidate for dental implants. But before going through with the procedure, there are a few things your dentist will check to make sure there aren’t any big health risks. They’ll get this information through X-rays, Computed Tomography (CT) scans, and medical evaluations. They’ll approve your procedure if:

  • You have healthy gums
  • You are old enough that your jawbone has stopped growing
  • You have enough jawbone to anchor the implants
  • You have no underlying health conditions that could put you at increased risk of infection

If you don’t meet all of that criteria, or if you have one of the following conditions, you may not be a good candidate for dental implants:

  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Smoking
  • Uncontrolled gum disease
  • Severe teeth grinding
  • Taking medications that suppress your immune system (e.g. steroids)

If you have any of those conditions, you won’t be immediately disregarded for a dental implant procedure, but your dentist will want to work closer with you to accommodate any associated risks. 

What Can I Expect When I Get Dental Implants?

Dental implants can be a great option for qualified candidates. But before you go ahead with the process, there are a few things you may want to know about the procedure, recovery time, and cost. 

What Happens During the Dental Implant Procedure?

The dental implant procedure involves surgery, which is usually broken down into three stages. These stages all occur at different times to allow for proper healing throughout the process. 

Stage 1: The implant is connected to the jaw and fused to the bone, a process called osseointegration. 

Stage 2: The metal post is connected to the implant and protrudes above the gum line. 

Stage 3: The dental crown is attached and cemented to the metal post. 

What Is the Recovery Time for Dental Implants?

The multi-stage dental implant procedure can take anywhere from 5-9 months to complete, depending on how quickly your mouth heals after each step. Since it involves surgery, there is always a risk of infection or nerve damage that could set the time back. However, with a trusted dentist, most people recover in the estimated time and never worry about their dental implants again. 

What Do Dental Implants Cost?

Dental implants come at a relatively high cost — usually upwards of a couple thousand dollars. However, this cost can vary quite a bit, depending on your dentist’s and dental insurance provider’s rates. 

One thing to keep in mind: since dental implants are a relatively long, involved process, some insurance plans do not cover the cost. Check with your insurance plan ahead of time to be informed of any out-of-pocket costs you might have. 

If you think you’re a candidate for dental implants, schedule an appointment with West Michigan Dentistry. As experts in cosmetic dentistry, we specialize in helping our patients feel more confident in their smile.