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Dental Implants

Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been. ~ Mark Twain

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Free Dental Implant Report
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What Are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are realistic looking, extremely reliable replacements for missing teeth. When we use the phrase “dental implant”, what we are really referring to is the three part system that is used to fill an empty space where the tooth is missing, or to replace a series of teeth by linking one or more implants through the use of a bridge. If you take a look at the illustration to the right, you can see those three distinct parts that make up the “dental implant”.

  • The Implant – the screw-like portion that replaces the root of your tooth

  • The Abutment – The connection between the implant and the Crown

  • The Crown – The portion of the system that you see in the mouth

Together, these three pieces mimic and serve to replace the missing tooth.  Implants are very reliable, strong and are permanent replacements for missing teeth.  They are, by today’s measure, the standard in dental care for replacement of missing teeth.  Implants are not removable by the patient, they are in the mouth at all times, and once placed are not felt by the patient as anything other than an actual tooth.  They fit and function just like your real tooth.  There are a number of ways that implants can be used, for example:

  • A single tooth replacement
  • An implant supported bridge, replacing several missing teeth.  Two implants are used as anchors on either end of a span of missing teeth.

  • For an implant retained denture or partial.  The implants are used to keep the denture from moving around.

  • For an implant supported denture, also known as All-On-4 ® implants.  Four implants are placed in specific areas to support a denture.

individual parts of a dental implant

Am I Too Old For Dental Implants?

Age is not usually a factor when determining the potential for dental implants, at least not for those who are older. Age is typically only a factor when discussing children or teens. Before dental implants are placed, we need to be sure that the natural bone growth of the face has completed.

What If I Don’t Have Enough Bone For Dental Implants?

One factor for determination of good candidacy for dental implants is the quantity of the bone available. The height of the bone required to place a dental implant has a minimum dimension. In some cases, if this minimum dimension is not available, a bone graft can be performed to increase the bone level. When broken, damaged or hopeless teeth are extracted it is sometimes required to place a small amount of bone into the space where your tooth root was once located. This is called a “socket preservation” when done at the time of the extraction. Socket preservation is just a different term for a bone graft done at the time the tooth is removed.

Upper teeth can have the complication of not having enough bone to place an implant due to interference with the maxillary sinus, which is a space that exist behind our cheek bones.  Sometimes this space dips down far enough to be problematic for putting in an implant.  In these cases, you may still be eligible for an implant after having a procedure called a sinus lift.  In a sinus lift procedure, added bone is used to increase the thickness of your bone and allow the implant to move forward.

What If My Gums Are Not In Top Shape?

Periodontal disease, also called gum disease, is one of the primary reasons for tooth loss.  If you have issues with your gums they must be treated before moving forward with dental implants, and that condition will require that it is under good control and that you have increased maintenance for keeping the tissues healthy.  This means that you will likely require more than the typical twice a year dental hygiene visits.  This periodontal treatment will also add some time to the timeline for getting your dental implants.

What Is The Procedure To Get An Implant?

The steps involved in getting a dental implant can vary from person to person depending on the needs of your particular situation.  It can sometimes be as simple as getting an implant on the day you come to The Smile Anchorage, or it could require a number of stages to complete, with each stage taking up to several months before moving to the next stage of treatment.  The total process could take anywhere from six to nine months, or even longer when bone grafting is required.  If you are patient with the process, you will be very pleased in the final result since dental implants are the best long-term solution for replacing your missing teeth.

Stage One: Bone Grafts

In order to place a dental implant, you must have sufficient bone to make sure the dental implant will be stable once placed in the jaw. If it is determined that you will need bone for your implants to hold, then you will require either a bone graft, a socket preservation, or perhaps a sinus lift. All of these procedures have the same goal; increase the amount of bone available to hold the implant in place.

During the bone graft, sterile bone is put in the area where you need improvement.  Once the procedure is performed, it will take from three to nine months for the bone to heal before you can continue to the next stage.

Stage Two: Implant Placement

The second step is the actual placement of the implant. A small incision is made, and a series of instruments are used to make a space for the implant. The implant is placed in the bone, and a small cover screw is put on top while the implant is allowed to osseointegrate. What is osseointegration? Simply put, it is the process of your bone growing and attaching to the implant to make it stable within the bone.

The most common question we get about this stage is, “How much is it going to hurt?”. The answer is that it is usually much less painful than one might imaging. In a real world example, Doctor Ranney placed five implants into his 76 year old mother-in-law in January of 2017. After placement of the implants she said that she took only one over-the-counter Tylenol, and she said she didn’t really need it. If there is one person you don’t want to disappoint, it’s your mother-in-law! Her experience is not unusual. The procedure generally does not cause pain afterword, and if there is discomfort it can usually be treated with over-the-counter pain medications.

Stage Three: Placement Of The Abutment

Once your implant has grown together with your bone and become sufficiently stable, the implant abutment will need to be placed. An abutment is the attachment between the implant (the screw portion that mimics your tooth root) and the crown, which is the portion of the tooth that you see when you look in your mouth. The abutment screws into the implant and sticks up above the gums. An impression is made and used to create a crown that will fit great and look perfect.

Stage Four: The Crown

The crown is the portion of the tooth that you see when you look into the mouth. An implant crown is just the same; the portion of the implant system that you will see. The final product, so to speak. The crowns are made of material that looks and feels just like a real tooth. We will match the shape, color and brightness of your natural teeth with the implant crown so that the will blend perfectly within your smile.  Once the implant crown is finally placed in the mouth, people will have no idea that you have an artificial tooth.

Stage Five: Maintenance

When all is finished, you will have a great looking and realistic feeling replacement for your missing tooth or teeth.  Not only that, but you will have an investment of both time and money in your new implant.  You will want to protect that investment with regular visits to The Smile Anchorage to maintain the implant, as well as all of your remaining natural teeth.  Your home care of the implant will not really differ from that of your regular teeth.  You should brush twice daily for two minutes, use a mouth rinse with fluoride, and floss around all of your teeth and implants.  As an extra measure of good hygiene for dental implants, we would recommend the use of other tools such as inter-proximal brushes (small brushes that fit between your teeth) or the gentle use of a water-pik.  These home care measures, combined with regular check-ups and cleanings at The Smile Anchorage will allow you to keep your healthy smile for years to come.

It should be noted that while dental implants join to your bone in a solid manner, the implant abutment and crown do not attach to your gums like your gums would do to natural teeth.  Because of this, good home care and regular check-ups and cleanings are extremely important to prevent peri-implantitis, or inflammation of the gums around the implant.  It is basically the equivalent of gum disease that you would see around natural teeth.

While some symptoms immediately after placement of an implant are normal, once a short healing time has passed you shouldn’t see any of the signs that might indicate that you have peri-implantitis.  Those would include bleeding from the gums, redness, receding gums, swellings around the gums near the implant, problems chewing on the implant, or an implant that feels loose.  Again, the best way to be sure that these problems do not arise is excellent home care and regular cleanings.  Peri-implantitis is treated in the same way as normal gum disease, by deep periodontal cleaning.  The minor difference is the tools used are typically made of material that won’t scratch or harm the implant.

dental implant smile

What Are The Benefits Of Implants?

There are a number of reasons that dental implants are a wonderful solution to missing teeth.

  • Appearance – Dental implants are completely natural looking, as natural looking as your real teeth

  • Easy To Clean – There’s little difference from real teeth. Brushing and flossing is the same

  • Long Lasting – With good home care and regular maintenance, implants can last a lifetime

  • Eating – Unlike dentures, dental implants allow you to chew and eat just like real teeth and have nearly 100% of the chewing power of natural teeth (compare that to perhaps 20% chewing power from a denture… Say goodbye to those delicious steaks!)

  • Talking – Dentures and partials can cause speech problems due to the extra device that you have in the mouth. Implants don’t interfere with the lips or tongue so this won’t happen

  • Adjacent Teeth Are Not Damaged – A bridge is a good option for replacing missing teeth, but requires the removal of sound tooth structure on the teeth next to the missing tooth

  • Facial Appearance – With dental implants in place, your bone will remain and you won’t develop that shrunken “little-old-lady” look to your face

  • Permanent – Unlike a denture, implants are not removable. Once placed they are there for good

What Is A Single Implant?

A single implant means that the implant stands alone, as a single tooth. You could have several single implants placed (multiple single implants). This means that at the site of each missing tooth is a single implant that replaces the root of the tooth, and attached is an abutment and a crown.

What Is An Implant Bridge?

An implant bridge is simply put a bridge that is supported by implants rather than natural teeth. A bridge is a series of three or more artificial teeth, with support on either end. A bridge can be placed on natural teeth by cutting down the outer surface of two teeth that have one or more missing teeth between them. Once the teeth are cut down, the artificial crowns are cemented in place with the center teeth being supported like a bridge. If you have an area that spans multiple teeth, an implant supported bridge might be the perfect way to fix the problem.

What Is An Implant Supported Or Retained Denture?

Some of the primary complaints about dentures are the fit in the mouth and the ability to chew and talk. Dentures without implants are suported by sitting on the tissue in the mouth. They are not connected in a solid way to the mouth or jaws. When you eat or talk, the dentures can and often do move around, causing problems with speech, chewing and eating. With the addition of implants to a denture, the support is greatly increased, eliminating the problems associated with dentures that are not connected in any way to the mouth or jaws.

An implant supported denture is a denture that rests upon several (usually four to six) implants, unlike a regular denture that rests upon the tissue in the mouth. Implant supported dentures are more often seen on the lower jaw, because lower dentures are typically more troublesome to patients. However, an implant supported denture can be done on the upper jaw as well. The force of your bite is delivered to the implants and into the bone, rather than just onto the inner surface of the denture. This is designed to give you the best and greatest bite possible from a denture.  It is much more likely that an implant supprted denture is not removable, and would stay in the mouth at all times.

Unlike implant supported dentures, implant retained dentures rest upon the tissue are used to hold the denture in and not so much support the denture but keep it from coming loose while eating and talking. These are not going to provide the same ability to eat and chew as implant supported dentures, but they are a far better option than a denture alone.  Implant retained dentures are removable, and are taken out every night for cleaning, and not worn while you sleep.

If you are mostly concerned about a denture being loose while eating or talking, an implant retained denture may be right for you.  If you are also concerned about the ability to eat certain foods (like a juicy steak, or corn on the cob) and you are also concerned about not having to take your dentures in and out every night, then an implant supported denture may be right for you.  Due to the nature of the materials that must be used in the implant supported denture, the cost can be much higher than the cost for an implant retained denture.

Well, How Much Does All Of This Cost?

The cost of dental implants is not insignificant. A single dental implant might be three thousand dollars, or more. An implant supported denture could cost upwards of eighteen to twenty thousand dollars. A single dental implant is quite comparable to a dental bridge for replacing a single missing tooth. However, the implant is a far superior option to a bridge, as it does not involve adjacent teeth. The best way to find out how much your treatment might cost is to come to The Smile Anchorage and get a consultation regarding your oral health. Call us at (502) 243-9200 or use the contact form on this website to get an appointment in our office.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about dental implants that we receive here at The Smile Anchorage. Toggle the “+” to view more information.

Dental Implant qualifications

Not everyone can receive dental implants. There are a number of factors that might inhibit the ability to place or restore an implant in any given individual. Sometimes, these factors can completely limit the ability to place a dental implant. Other times, the factors may only reduce the overall outcome, meaning an implant may be possible with some less than perfect conditions. The amount of available bone, the height or width of the space where the tooth is missing may be too short or narrow, and there are some health related issues that could reduce the success of your dental implant. The best way to find out if dental implants are right for you is to contact our office to schedule a consultation.

A great candidate for the placement of dental implants is someone in generally good health with otherwise healthy teeth and gums, and who has an adequate amount and quality of bone to hold the implant in place.  There are other important factors, such as being a non-smoker, as smoking causes the success rate for implants to drop significantly.  You must also understand that the process for placing implants can take some time, up to several months depending on your specific situation.

One or more of the following conditions or problems may not allow you to be a candidate for dental implants.  Come by The Smile Anchorage for a dental implant consult to determine if the treatment is right for you.

  • You are a heavy smoker

  • You have certain auto-immune disorders

  • You have diabetes that is not well controlled

  • You have poor oral hygiene

  • You have an inadequate amount of bone

  • You have inadequate bone density

  • You are too YOUNG for dental implants

  • A history of bisphosphanate or other medication use

  • You are pregnant

  • People who have been treated with radiation or chemotherapy

Any one or more of these conditions or situations could prevent you from having a dental implant. Depending on the specifics of your case, an implant may be a possibility. A dental consultation at The Smile Anchorage is the best way to find out if you are the right person to receive a dental implant.

The cost of any particular procedure is going to vary depending on a number of factors. For example, you may have an insurance plan that has a specific contracted payment amount, or you may have an insurance co-pay or deductible. For an accurate cost on any particular treatment, please contact our front office staff and we will gladly help you determine your out-of-pocket costs.

The Lifespan Of Crowns & Bridges

It is said that the average lifespan of a crown or bridge is between five and fifteen years.  Much of the lifespan of a crown or bridge depends on the level of home care the crown or bridge receives. Additionally, regular dental check-ups and professional care and cleaning is important. Teeth clenching is a factor. Likewise, teeth grinding shortens the lifespan. Ice crunching can damage crowns, as well as very hard foods. Crowns used for unintended purposes can see damage. That would include things like opening bottles or tearing open plastic packages. These activities shorten the duration of a crown or bridge life cycle.

If you ask Dr. Ranney how long will a crown last, he can tell you that it can be for a good amount of time. He has a crown that was placed during Ronald Reagan’s first term in office! So, they can last for several decades when cared for properly.

Why Crowns Need To Be Replaced

Crowns are stronger than ever. Materials today are much improved over those of the past. However, they still have forces acting against them. First, grinding your teeth damages crowns. Forces are great on the teeth when you grind and chew. These forces can wear down the teeth. Another force acting on crowns are bad habits.  Chewing ice is a bad idea. So is biting on your nails and opening packaging made of plastic. And, don’t get us started on the subject of opening bottles with your teeth! Avoiding these activities will help your crown last longer.

Another potential issue that affects crown longevity is decay. The crown is still attached to a real tooth. That tooth structure is still susceptible to decay. Great care should be taken to clean and maintain your crown. Failure to do so results in recurrent decay.

Dental Insurance Plans

Our dental office is a participating provider for a number of dental insurance plans. The Smile Anchorage accepts the insurance plans of most of the major employers in the area. Notably this includes United Parcel Service UPS, Humana, Ford Motor Company, Yum! Brands, Papa John’s and many others.

Please keep in mind that your insurance coverage may be different that that of your co-workers. Even though you have the same provider, you may be enrolled in a different plan. Hence, plans can vary greatly. For example, your co-worker might have coverage for braces. In contrast, you may have no coverage for those procedures. By the same token your co-worker may pay $25 for a filling. Instead, you might pay nothing for a similar filling. The Smile Anchorage does not have any say in what your plan covers. Call or come by our office. Speak to one of our insurance specialists. They can tell you about your exact coverages.

You Have No Insurance

We know that many of our patients have no insurance. So, The Smile Anchorage has an in-house dental plan for those without insurance called The Smile Program. Firstly, The Smile Program covers twice per year cleanings. Secondly, exams are included two times per year. Likewise, all necessary x-rays are included. Thirdly, there are discounts on certain treatments. Additionally there are no claim forms. Equally important other benefits are explained on our New Patients page. Click here to learn more about The Smile Program.

The list of dental insurance plans that are accepted at The Smile Anchorage is not a static list. Correspondingly, changes sometimes occur. With this in mind, we advise that you call to confirm that your insurance is accepted in our office before you make an appointment.

The List

A current list of insurance providers that are accepted in our office is shown below. Providers change. The list is updated as of July 2017.

  • Aetna

  • Anthem

  • Assurant

  • Central States

  • Cigna

  • Delta Dental

  • DentaSelect

  • Dentemax

  • Guardian

  • Humana

  • LHI Logistics Health Incorporated

  • Liberty Dental

  • Lincoln Financial Group

  • Metlife

  • Principal

  • Superior Dental

  • United Concordia & ADDP United Concordia

  • United Healthcare

Dental Insurance Coverage

People often ask us if their dental insurance coverage will take care of the costs associated with any given procedure. This is a question that is difficult to answer through our website.

There are a tremendous number of insurance companies. Each of those companies may have several different policy options. There are also other considerations, such as co-pays and deductibles. Those can vary from person to person depending on their insurance policy.

Sometimes it occurs that you have dental insurance coverage, but there are time-frame restrictions to consider. For example, you may have insurance that pays for a dental cleaning every six months. That would mean your insurance would not cover your cleaning if you visited the office five and a half months after your last dental cleaning. You would have to wait two weeks before your benefits would be active.

Another situation that could occur would be exceeding a yearly maximum. For example, if you had coverage that pays for a crown, but you had a $1500 yearly insurance maximum. If you had already had some treatment that the insurance paid for in the amount of $1400 your remaining insurance is just $100. You would have just that $100 remaining that the insurance would pay, unless you wait until your insurance reset for a new year. That time reset could be on a calendar basis, or a policy basis.

Another factor that could weigh on payments made by insurance is that of pre-determination. For example, let’s assume you have coverage for a crown. You have a tooth where you dislike the appearance. We determine that a crown is the best way to solve the problem. Your insurance may consider the procedure to be cosmetic in nature, and your policy may have an exclusion for cosmetic work done to your teeth. In these situations, we can submit your claim to your insurance provider before the work is done in order to determine if the proposed work would be covered bu your policy.

All of these factors are person specific.

In conclusion, the answer to the question of whether or not your insurance covers a specific treatment is “maybe”. So , if you would like to know if your insurance covers a specific treatment, call our office at (502)243-9200. Or, take a short drive to our office in East Louisville and one of our insurance specialists will help you understand your policy coverage.

Download our FREE e-Report explaining how dental implants could change your life.

The decision process for getting dental implants can be full of questions.  This free report will help you to understand the how, what and why of dental implants, giving you the information you require to make an informed decision about your dental implant needs.

Free Dental Implant Report
Free Dental Implant Report

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