What to know about dental implants

From price to procedure expectations, we get to the root of how dental implants work.

Self-conscious about your smile because of dental damage or you’re missing a tooth? A dental implant might be the answer.

While they’re not new to the world of dentistry, dental implants have become common for their long-lasting potential and likeness to a real tooth.

“A lot more dental implants are being placed in the last decade compared to the early days,” Australian Dental Association vice president Dr Scott Davis says.

From start to smile, here’s everything you need to know about this popular dental procedure.

What are dental implants?

Basically, a dental implant is a permanent artificial tooth that’s fashioned from two parts – a screw-like “root” and a crown.

“Usually made of titanium and looking a little like a screw, the implant is surgically positioned in the jaw bone,” Bupa Dental dentist Dr Richard Wark says.

“A crown is then attached to the top of the implant to fill the gap of the missing tooth.”

Compared to alternatives such as dentures and dental bridges, dental implants are the most natural and life-like solution for a missing tooth, Dr Wark says.

“The result is virtually indistinguishable from your other teeth and in a very short space of time, it will feel completely normal,” he says.

With proper oral hygiene, a dental implant can become a long-lasting fixture that fits right in with your smile.

“We anticipate that more than 90 per cent of dental implants will last 30 years or more,” Dr Davis says.

“The most important thing is to make sure you have good oral hygiene – clean your teeth well, have regular check-ups and stay on top of any gum disease.”

What to expect during a dental implant procedure

A dental implant procedure is done in stages, usually over a few months.

First, you’ll have scans so your dentist will know where to place the implant.

“(It requires) thorough planning … radiographs are taken by your dentist to aid in positioning the implant and to ensure you have plenty of healthy bone,” Dr Wark says.

“Then the titanium implant is surgically placed in the bone of your jaw where a tooth once was.”

Next, you’ll wait three to six months for new bone to grow around the implant.

“Once the implant is securely fused to the bone, a permanent crown is custom-made and either cemented or screwed into place and is ready to chew with,” Dr Wark says.

While there are many types of dental implants, Dr Davis says the procedure remains largely the same.

“I’d estimate there are between 30 to 40 brands and types of threaded dental implants in Australia,” Dr Davis says.

“There are minor technical differences for these, but the procedure is essentially the same.”

What do dental implants cost in Australia?

According to Dr Davis, the price of dental implants can vary and depend on the complexities of each case.

“There’s quite a variation – if there’s a need for bone grafting, soft tissue grafting, a tooth that needs to be removed first, an infection managed, or if the implant is for more than one tooth,” Dr Davis explains.

“A reasonable price range is between $3500 and $7500.”

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Written by Hayley Hinze.