Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a titanium screw placed into your jawbone that replaces a natural tooth (or row of teeth) that have been lost or damaged. The new root is implanted into your jawbone or just below the gums, and a crown is placed on top.
Dental implants offer patients a permanent solution to deteriorating oral health. Implants can help stop bone loss and can restore the ability to normal speech and chew.
Unlike other dental solutions, dental implants look and feel like genuine teeth. Like a genuine tooth, dental implants can last a lifetime with proper care. They are secure and comfortable, and most patients find that dental implants are nearly indistinguishable from their original teeth.
2. What are the different types of dental implants?
There are a wide variety of implant types and procedure options to choose from.
- Single-tooth implant: Dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth in the mouth. Single-tooth implants are common solutions when only one tooth is damaged or missing, and there are no other dental problems that need to be addressed.
- Multi-tooth implant: Some patients have several teeth in a row that are damaged or missing, but the rest of their teeth are still healthy. In this case, two implants are inserted into the jawbone where the missing teeth are, and the bridge is placed on top.
- Full-arch replacement: This procedure has several names, including all-on-four and teeth-in-a-day. This dental implant procedure replaces the entire upper or lower jaw of teeth. However, unlike individual implants, only four implants are required to support the new row.
3. What is a full arch?
A full arch (or full arch procedure) is when an entire row of teeth (or all of a patient’s upper or lower teeth) is restored at once. This procedure can be used on the top row of teeth, bottom row of teeth, or both, and a full-arch replacement restores teeth to a natural looking aesthetic.
Patients usually pursue a full arch restoration when they have multiple missing or damaged teeth, which impact their ability to chew or speak. With full arch procedures, there is one surgery to replace all the missing teeth, and your smile and chewing function is transformed in one visit.
These procedures can be complicated to perform, which is why our office uses only oral surgeons.
4. Is it necessary to have one implant for each missing tooth?
No. Traditionally, patients have received one implant for each missing tooth, and these single-tooth implants are still feasible when people are only missing a small number of teeth.
However, if there are multiple missing teeth or when there is significant damage to multiple teeth, your oral surgeon can replace entire rows of teeth with only 4 implants. This procedure is called a full-arch replacement (or “all-on-four” procedures).
During an all-on-four procedure, entire rows of new teeth are anchored by only four implants in the jawbone. Even though there are only four implants, the replacement teeth are securely held in place and will function and look like natural teeth.
5. How do dental implants compare to dentures?
There is a world of difference between common dentures and dental implants. While dentures are less expensive, they offer fewer benefits. They are held in place with adhesive, will come with a list of foods you can’t eat, and have to be removed at night.
Furthermore, bacteria grow easily on dentures, which can cause bad breath. If you’re suffering from bone loss in the jaw, dentures do nothing to stop it. Finally, dentures commonly break; even if you take care of them perfectly, they’ll usually need to be replaced every five years.
Dental implants, on the other hand, are as close as they can be to real, genuine teeth. They are permanently connected to your jawbone and cause no discomfort. Not only do they look better than dentures, they can prevent further bone damage. Furthermore, there are no food restrictions with dental implants.
As long as you follow normal dental hygiene, you won’t suffer from unwanted foul smells with dental implants. When properly taken care of, dental implants are permanent, and can last a lifetime.
6. What are dental implants made of?
Dental implants are most commonly made from titanium. This is a metal that is biocompatible, meaning that it is safe for your body and your body won’t reject it as a foreign substance. The type of titanium used in dental implants is similar to the titanium used in other medical procedures, like hip replacements.
The bridge –the teeth and gums that people will see when you smile – can be made from acrylic or zirconia. Acrylic is a relatively weak and soft material that is prone to fracture and discoloration over time.
This is why we only use zirconia, which is a strong, high-quality material that maintains its shape and color over time. We use the best materials to provide the longest-lasting implants possible.
7. What is involved with taking care of dental implants?
Dental implants only need basic oral hygiene to be taken care of. Regular flossing and brushing are important to making sure that implants last a lifetime.
Some more complicated dental implant procedures (such as those involving full arch replacements, bridges, or overdentures), may require special brushes to ensure they are properly cleaned.
There are activities that dental implant recipients should avoid, including alcohol use, smoking, or recreational drug use. This is especially important during the recovery period following the initial surgery since these activities increase the chance for complications or implant failure.
8. Do dental implants work?
Yes! Dental implants are the best permanent, long-term solution for patients who have lost or damaged teeth and are experiencing jawbone loss. Dental implants have a very high success rate with minimal complications.
You can learn more about our success rate during your free consultation. We have helped over 5,000 patients and strongly believe in the transformative power of dental implants.
9. How do I get dental implants?
Fortunately, almost any patient is eligible to receive dental implants, even if gum or jaw health are poor. To get started with the process, you’ll contact us for a free initial consultation, where the oral surgeon will evaluate your teeth and take CT scans.
These scans will help to determine if you need a single tooth replacement, a multiple tooth replacement, or a full-arch replacement.
Once we identify what specific procedure is needed, we’ll discuss financing options (if needed), and then we’ll schedule the procedure.
10. Who can get dental implants? Which patients are eligible for dental implants?
Almost any patient is eligible for a dental implant procedure, even if oral health is especially poor. In fact, dental implants are the only procedure that can stop the progression of certain oral health problems and prevent further bone loss.
Patients with major dental problems are often the patients who need dental implants the most. Specific procedures will vary depending on what each individual patient needs and the health of the gums and jawbone.
11. How are dental implants done? What is the procedure involved in dental implants?
The procedure involved with dental implants, even full arches, is surprisingly simple and quick. You’ll be under IV sedation, which will make the procedure painless. The titanium screws will be inserted into your jaw and temporary teeth will be attached.
While the procedure sounds intimidating, you’ll be back home the same day the procedure is completed, where you’ll take some time to allow your jawbone to heal.
In the meantime, your permanent teeth will be hand-crafted by our specialists onsite. When your jawbone has healed after 3 months, you’ll return to our offices where your permanent teeth will replace your temporary teeth.
The permanent teeth will be attached to their anchors with a permanent bridge. This is a painless procedure.
Once your permanent teeth are attached, you’ll have a set of teeth that are nearly indistinguishable from the real thing. Your final appointment won’t be a surgery, and you can expect the attachment of your permanent teeth and bridge to take around an hour.
12. Who performs dental implant procedures?
Unlike many dental offices that offer dental implants, America’s First exclusively uses oral and maxillofacial surgeons to perform dental implants and full arches.
These procedures are surgeries, and the expertise and training that comes with being an oral and maxillofacial surgeon ensures that the procedure is effective and safe.
Oral surgeons are specialists who have expertise beyond general dentistry. After earning a DMD or DDS (normal credentials for a general dentist), oral surgeons complete an additional four to six years of hospital residency training where they specialize in performing dental surgeries with anesthesia.
Most oral surgeons will have completed upwards of 14 years of training before operating independently, compared to eight years of a general dentist.
13. Do dental implants hurt? Are dental implants painful?
We have found that the vast majority of our patients experience little discomfort during their recovery period. However, results can vary from patient to patient, so it is possible you’ll experience mild, short-term discomfort.
While each procedure is unique from patient to patient, we have seen that many patients only need to use common over-the-counter medication while recovering.
Should you experience stronger pain after the procedure, we will provide access to stronger pain medication as needed.
14. Are there downsides to dental implants?
There are a few downsides to dental implants to keep in mind if you are considering the procedure. The primary downside is the cost of implants since the procedure can be expensive and is generally not covered by insurance.
This is why we have worked diligently to provide our patients with the most competitive pricing in the market, and we are able to do it by working only with highly experienced oral surgeons, through years of experience, can perform dental implant surgeries efficiently and successfully.
Furthermore, we provide a variety of financing options to make dental implants accessible.
The other concern is that receiving dental implants is a surgical procedure, all of which carry some level of risk. While complications from dental implants are rare, they are possible. This is why we only use highly trained oral surgeons who are the foremost experts in these procedures.
15. Will I be asleep?
Yes, you will be administered IV sedation which will eliminate your fears, anxiety, and any pain during the procedure.
16. How long does it take? How long is the recovery?
The actual surgery only takes a couple of hours, and you can expect to be home the same day you come in for the procedure. Recovery after the procedure will vary depending on what specifically you had done, though most patients can expect to recover in a few days.
17. Can I eat normally afterwards?
During recovery after a dental implant procedure, you’ll be on a restricted diet to allow your jaw to properly heal.
You should stick to a soft and liquid diet for the first two weeks of recovery. Afterwards, your diet will become less restricted, and you will be able to eat most of the food that you typically eat.
18. Can people tell I’ve had the procedure done?
People will not be able to tell that you have dental implants. The titanium anchor that connects to your jawbone is under the gum line, while the crown on top is made of zirconia, all of which looks like real teeth. All that people will see is a healthy, natural smile.
19. Can I go back to work after the surgery?
Many of our patients feel well enough to return to work the next day after the surgery. However, we recommend patients block out 3-5 days for rest and recovery.
Patients may experience some gum bruising and normal swelling within the first week of recovery, though this rarely impacts their work schedule or personal life.
20. How long do dental implants last?
Dental implants are a permanent, life-long solution to chronic dental problems. While implant failures are possible, this is highly unlikely especially with our experienced oral surgeons.
Problems with dental implants usually result from improper care or from a poorly performed procedure. We use oral surgeons to reduce the likelihood of complications, and the vast majority of our patients won’t have issues with implant failures.
Cost and Insurance
21. How much do dental implants cost?
The average cost of dental implants is high. The average cost of a single implant is roughly $3,000-$6,000 per tooth and $25,000-$40,000 per arch.
We specialize in full arch procedures, with our costs set at $14,950, almost half the national average. We are able to offer this cost because our oral surgeons are highly trained and have done thousands of full arch procedures. Given their expertise, our oral surgeons can perform full arch dental implant procedures efficiently and successfully.
Even though our costs are much lower, our quality of care is higher than what you’ll receive from many regional or national providers. Remember, we only work with oral surgeons, who are the most trained and educated in dental surgical procedures.
Together, we have performed over 5,000 full-arch replacements, which includes numerous corrections of failing implants placed by other providers.
22. Does insurance pay for dental implants?
Unfortunately, insurance rarely covers the cost of dental implants since they consider the procedure to be “cosmetic.” This is also the main reason why we have worked diligently to lower our costs so we can pass the savings to our patients.
Our offices will still review your specific information to make sure you get as much insurance reimbursement for the procedure as possible.
While rare, there are instances that insurance may cover dental implants. They include:
- If teeth were lost due to a traumatic incident (like a car accident)
- If teeth were lost due to disease or other medical condition
- If teeth were lost due to cancer treatment
- If teeth were missing from birth (or other congenital defect)
During your initial consultation with us, we’ll help you determine what insurance may cover.
23. What are financing options?
We have a variety of financing partners that make dental implants accessible on any budget. When you come in for your free consultation, we’ll review your financial history and assist you with our financing partners to determine the best options.
24. Can I finance dental implants with poor credit?
We have worked with many patients over the years, many of whom have had poor credit. If you are interested in dental implants but are concerned about your credit history, we can go over financing options during your initial consultation.
You may be surprised by the flexible financing available to you.
25. Is it safe to get cheap dental implants outside of the United States?
Dental tourism (when Americans travel international for dental treatment) continues to grow in popularity in the United States. For some patients, the cost of the procedure combined with the cost of travel is less than what they would pay in the United States.
However, we caution against having dental procedures done outside of the country.
There are several reasons why. First, it is often difficult to determine the qualifications of the dentist or oral surgeon. Many countries have no licensing process and so it is hard to know about the trainings and qualifications of the provider.
Because of the lack of oversight, complications after surgery tends to occur more frequently and the likelihood of dental implant failure is much higher.
Many of our patients come to us to fix the problems of a poorly performed dental implant procedure. Not only do these patients end up paying the normal cost of the dental implant procedure (to get it fixed), they also pay for the initial failed dental procedure (plus travel expenses), making the overall procedure much more costly than it would have been if they went to a qualified oral surgeon in the first place.
Given these issues, we strongly encourage interested patients to consult with us to determine how to afford and finance a dental implant procedure.