Guide to Dental Implants

By: Spirit Dental
October 20, 2022

woman smiling researching dental implants

Historically, patients with damaged teeth opted for treatments like crowns, bridges or dentures. While each is somewhat effective, none are very durable and tend to fall out and require replacement over time.
Today, there is a lower maintenance, more permanent solution. Dental implants are an effective procedure for replacing teeth that allow people to function as they normally would, with the improved confidence a new smile brings.

The basics

Let’s start with the fundamental details about dental implants.

What are dental implants?

Dental implants are a method for replacing tooth roots and teeth that are missing, decaying, injured or damaged beyond repair. The new roots fuse into the jaw bone, serving as a strong foundation for either permanent or removable replacement teeth.

How do dental implants work?

The implants, typically made from either titanium or zirconium oxide, are surgically placed into the jaw bone. Over time, the surrounding bone heals tightly around the new root, acting as an anchor for new teeth. Since they essentially become new bones, dental implants can last decades or even a lifetime.

What types of dental implants exist?

There are a handful of different types of dental implants. The type your dental professional recommends for you depends on the condition of your mouth and surrounding teeth and overall health:

  • Endosteal dental implants are the most common type, where small titanium screws are placed in the jawbone.
  • Subperiosteal dental implants are placed under the gums, and are used for patients who do not have a healthy enough jawbone to support the new roots. 
  • Mini dental implants, also called narrow diameter implants, are smaller than the more common implants (about the size of a toothpick) and are mostly used to stabilize dentures. 
  • Immediate load dental implants are also called Teeth in a DayⓇ as they involve the placement of a temporary tooth or teeth immediately following the placement of the implants. This is only recommended for patients who have enough natural bone to support immediate pressure on the jawbone. 
  • All-on-4 is an alternative procedure to a full set of dental implants, where four implants are placed in available bone with special abutments (metal part that serves as a base for a false tooth) for placing a set of temporary replacement teeth the same day. Once the tissues and bones heal, permanent teeth will replace the temporary set.

Certain procedures may also need to be done prior to placing the dental implants to ensure the replacement roots and teeth are durable, including:


  • Bone augmentation restores and regenerates bone in the jaw with bone additives, in cases where the bone isn’t strong enough to support implants.
  • Sinus lift adds bone below the sinus, in cases where missing upper back teeth cause bone deterioration.
  • Ridge expansion applies bone graft material to a small space created along the top of the jaw, in cases where the jaw isn’t wide enough to support implants.

Who is a good candidate for dental implants?

Virtually any adult in good enough oral and general health to undergo a routine dental extraction or oral surgery is a candidate for dental implants. This means having strong, healthy gum tissue and bone that are able to support the new roots and teeth. Certain patients, like those who smoke regularly, have a chronic disorder or have had radiation therapy to the head and neck area, will need an evaluation before being approved for dental implants. Speak to your general physician before committing to dental implant treatment, as they have unique visibility into your overall health and medical history.

How successful are dental implants?

While it depends on where the implants are placed, as well as the individual patient, dental implants can have a success rate of up to 98%. To increase the likelihood of success, it’s important to follow specific aftercare instructions provided by your dentist, as well as proper routine oral care, like regular brushing, flossing, rinsing with mouthwash and dental visits.

The procedure

Next, let’s cover what you expect from a dental implant procedure and recovery. 

How long does a dental implant procedure take?

You’ll require a separate dental exam prior to the dental implant procedure, as well as follow-up appointments to confirm everything is healing properly. However, the actual implant placement process will likely take between one and two hours, depending on how many implants you are getting. Remember that once the implants are placed, you’ll have to wait several months for the bone to heal before getting your new permanent teeth.

Are dental implants painful?

As will any surgical procedure, you will experience some soreness after the dental implants are placed. The following are common post-op symptoms:

  • Gum swelling
  • Skin bruising 
  • Pain at implant site
  • Minor bleeding

Your dentist will recommend or prescribe pain medication or antibiotics to take in the days afterward. Sticking to soft foods during the healing process will also help to reduce pain.

How long does it take to recover from dental implant surgery?

After the initial surgery, it will take between one and two weeks for the gums to heal and symptoms to go away. Your dentist will provide you with instructions about how to care for the surgery site and certain diet and activity restrictions during this time. However, the full recovery will be up to six months while the implant bonds together with your jawbone.

This may feel like a lengthy process, but in the end you’ll have beautiful new teeth that will last forever.

Cost and coverage

With any medical procedure, patients want to know how much money they can expect to dole out. We’ve got the details below.

How much do dental implants cost?

A number of factors — location, dentist, implant materials, type of implant, prerequisite treatments — will impact the total cost of your dental implant procedure. On average, a single implant with an abutment and crown is about $5,000, but can be priced anywhere between $1,000 and $7,000. For a full set of dental implants, you can expect a bill in the tens of thousands.

Does dental insurance cover implants?

Because dental implants are typically considered an elective procedure, they won’t be covered by a basic dental insurance plan. However, in certain cases — for instance, if teeth are lost as a result of an accident — your plan may cover some or all of the costs. There are also dental insurance plans that offer more coverage and may help pay for implants. It’s important to take a look at the fine print of your plan if you’re not financially ready to shoulder the full price of dental implants.

Get coverage for dental implants from Spirit Dental

Do dental implants sound like the right treatment for you? Get a dental insurance quote from Spirit Dental to make sure you achieve the smile you want without paying thousands in out-of-pocket costs.

Search for Resources


Senior Dental Health
Eye Health
Children's Dental Health
Dental Health