Dental implants are used to replace a single tooth, many teeth on one side, or used to support an entire fixed or removable bridge replacing all the upper or lower teeth. The most common implant used today is the osseointegrated implant. This implant is placed in a hole which is drilled into the patient’s lower or upper jaw. Depending on the number of teeth being replaced, one or more implants are placed in the bone. If necessary a substructure is fabricated and then a crown, bridge or denture is securely fastened to the substructure or implant.
Dental implants are useful for patients that have tried but can’t wear conventional dentures. Patients that lost a tooth, have two teeth with no or small fillings adjacent to the hole and don’t want to cut the teeth down to make a bridge, would also make good candidates. In either case the patient has to commit to good oral hygiene. Implants are usually placed in outpatient settings and have a healing phase of 3 to 9 months, but some can have a temporary crown/denture on the newly implanted implants or have a temporary denture immediately.
There is a significant initial investment involved to place the dental implants as well as restore them. In the long run the tooth supported bridge would need to be replaced at some point and that would make the implants less costly. They can be placed by periodontists, oral surgeons, or trained general dentists. The cost could be $1000 to $3000 per implant placed, this does not include the cost of bone grafting or sinus-lift procedures which need to be done in some situations. The crown and bridge or denture placed on these dental implants can cost $1500 or more per tooth to replace. So make sure to keep the implanted areas healthy, by brushing and flossing daily.