In 1965, a Swedish physician Dr. Per-Ingvar Branemark revolutionized the dental field by placing a titanium implant in the jawbone of one of his patients. He recognized the problems associated with wearing dentures; and the resulting success and reliability of implants has changed dentistry forever. We now have the ability to replace missing teeth without a removable appliance, and without shaving other teeth down to fabricate a bridge. The implant techniques and materials are constantly being upgraded, leading to some common misconceptions about implants.

  1. I heard that dental implants are rarely successful and often are rejected or get infected. The current generation of implants is highly successful. Overall the success rate of dental implants is over 90%. So while there are occasional failures, the vast majority are successful.  Moreover, many implant failures occur early on, before a crown is placed on them, so they are easily removed and after adequate healing can usually be replaced. You should always seek a dentist who has a lot of experience placing implants. 
  2. Implant surgery is very painful, and is a long procedure, is that true? Surgical placement of dental implants is generally done with simple local anesthesia (the same used for simple fillings). This allows the procedure to be painless. The local anesthesia can be combined with Nitrous Oxide Analgesia (commonly called “laughing gas”) for patients who are a little more anxious, and in rare instances, very nervous patients can have intravenous sedation. A single implant usually takes less than an hour to be placed. You can expect soreness in the surgical area over the next few days, but usually Advil or Tylenol alleviates the discomfort.  
  3. I heard dental implants take 6 or more months to complete I can’t walk around without a front tooth for that long. Today we are often able to extract a bad tooth, place an implant and a natural looking temporary crown (cap) on the very same day. This allows the necessary healing to take place without a change in your smile. Then a beautiful porcelain crown can be fabricated after about 3 or so months. If an implant cannot be placed immediately we fabricate a temporary on the same day as the extraction. You never leave the office without a temporary (unless so desired).
  4. I am scared that if I have implants, they can put pressure on nerves in my lower jaw or affect my sinuses on the upper jaw. Whenever implants are placed, we carefully plan the length and diameter needed for the particular area. When needed, CT scans are ordered to precisely measure the available bone to avoid putting pressure on these structures. This planning decreases potential complications to a minimal level. Proper overall planning and coordination between the specialist placing the implant and the one restoring the implant is critical.
  5. I need dental implants; I heard they are never covered by dental insurance. Always check with your dental insurance company first. Implants consist of three parts, a surgically placed titanium fixture, an abutment to hold the crown and the crown itself. Most dental insurance plans pay for the abutment and the crown subject to your deductible and maximum annual allowance. Fewer insurance companies will pay for the surgical placement of the titanium fixture but some will. Have the dental office send in for prior approval and/or speak to your benefits manager at work.

At Dental Partners of Fifth Avenue, our in house periodontal specialist has twenty years’ experience  placing implants. By being in the same office, we are able to work together in the operatory to get the best possible results. After the procedure, our in office ceramist will help fabricate a beautiful temporary restoration, and  ultimately the permant crown.