FAQ about dental implants

Want to know more about dental implants and implant dentistry? Here’s some answers to some common questions.

Byline: Dr David Power

There may be many questions you have about dental implants, so I have included the most frequently asked here.

Q: How do I know if I need dental implants?

A: The most common reason for needing implant dentistry is if you have a tooth missing. In some cases patients may have several teeth missing though, and replacing them with several implants, or an implant and a bridge, may be required. The other fairly common reason is as a replacement for a full lower denture with older patients. A full lower denture means all their bottom teeth are missing. Some patients in this situation are not happy with their full bottom denture because it can move around.

Q: I’ve had a tooth knocked out. What is the process of getting a dental implant to replace it?

A: If the tooth is broken we may not be able to repair it and we will need to extract it. If that’s the case, we’ll plan to extract the tooth and then put something in its place temporarily. That would be either a removable denture, or a temporary bridge or a composite bridge bonded to the surrounding teeth to hold its place and give you something that looks good. Then we leave that to heal for a short time, making sure it’s all healthy.

As soon as there’s enough bone to support the implant, we would place a dental implant in and then put whatever was temporary back into position—that could be the bridge or the denture.

Q: Do you have to get the implant straight away after the tooth comes out?

A: No, it can be many years later. But the longer you leave it, the more bone shrinks away. The issue around waiting is you can only put an implant into bone. If a patient doesn’t have a lot of bone there for us to place the implant in, it can become a more invasive process than it would have been if we’d acted earlier.

However, we know in some cases the tooth was lost a long time ago. In that scenario, we would place the dental implant and put artificial bone particles around it to bulk it up. This doesn’t always work. If you’ve lost half the bone height on the outside, you may not get a good result unless you do a big graft of bone. This will be assessed at your individual consultation.

We will take X-rays and sometimes send off for additional three-dimensional scans to see how much bone there is for us to work with. An X-ray shows it two-dimensionally and if you have just had a tooth taken out, we know that there’s bone there, but if it’s years later we wont know how thick the bone is.

Q: Is implant dentistry a painful procedure?

A: It is roughly as painful as an extraction. It’s not painless, but most people just take over-the-counter painkillers.

Q: Is the dental implant a day procedure? Will I need sedation?

A: Yes, it is finished in a day. At Power Dental we haven’t sedated patients for it to date, but if people are worried, of course we can organise for sedation.

Q: How much do dental implants cost?

A: For an average single tooth implant, we’d say $5000 is a rough figure. But the cost will, in the end, be determined by your individual circumstances. If you’re keen to know more, come in and talk to your dentist.