Dental implants have been around for some time, but have recently become more popular due to their natural appearance and functionality. However, there are still many misconceptions about the procedure and results.
We’re here to bust the myths for you so you can make an educated decision about your oral health.
Since dental implants are considered a surgical procedure, most patients assume it will be incredibly invasive. Although when the procedure was first introduced it was quite an invasive and lengthy process, we’ve come a long way.
Thanks to modern technology, dental implant surgery is actually minimally invasive and requires only minor incisions in the gums. Unless you choose to be put under general anesthesia (see below), you will be kept awake during the procedure and will be able to go home shortly after the dentist is finished.
Surgery is often associated with pain. Therefore it’s not surprising that people are concerned about discomfort during and following a dental implant procedure. While it won’t be the most pleasant experience a patient has, it may not be as bad as you expect.
In truth, most patients experience minimal pain throughout the procedure and recovery process. During the dental implant surgery, you’ll have the option between local anesthesia, general anesthesia or sedation to numb the area and get you more relaxed. If you choose local anesthesia, you’ll likely feel some pressure, but most patients say it feels similar to a tooth extraction.
Following the procedure, you’ll be prescribed pain medication — or recommended an over-the-counter option — and given other instructions about how to manage any pain or discomfort during recovery.
The entire dental implant process takes several months, because the implants need to heal fully before the new artificial teeth are placed. When patients hear this, they often assume that this means they can’t eat certain foods or will experience pain that entire time.
Actually, the incision will heal within two weeks after surgery and you’ll be able to resume normal activities. Following your dentist’s instructions for after care, you can reduce this healing period. The implant post will continue to fuse with your jawbone — called osseointegration — but this doesn’t cause any discomfort and won’t disrupt your daily life.
There’s a belief that dental implants will stick out or look fake amongst natural teeth. Further, patients are concerned they won’t be able to chew or speak normally with their new tooth or teeth.
Prior to placing the new teeth, your dentist will match their color to the color of your surrounding teeth so they look completely natural. And not just that — because the implant fuses over time with your jawbone, they feel and function just like real teeth. In time, you won’t even notice a difference!
Natural teeth can get yellow or brown from sugar consumption, smoking, poor oral hygiene and more. You may think that since dental implants are made from artificial materials, they will also eventually lose their whiteness and shine.
Dental implants are stain resistant, making them less susceptible to yellowing or discoloration than natural teeth. But, just like with your real teeth, dental implants require regular brushing, flossing and professional cleaning to maintain their brightness.
Somehow, it’s gotten into patients' minds that implants have a shelf life of ten years at most. This may be due to the fact that dental bridges and dentures, both of which can cause bone loss and decay over time, typically last about a decade.
With proper oral care, dental implants are a permanent solution that will last a lifetime. Studies have shown the average lifespan of implants to be at least 25 years, with many reporting them to last 40 to 50 years.
This being said, it’s important to note the factors that may decrease the longevity of implants, including:
Many people with missing, injured or decayed teeth shy away from dental implants for fear of how much it will cost. Since it’s a more intensive treatment than dentures or bridges, patients assume implant surgery is unaffordable.
Although dental implants come at a higher price tag than a dental bridge or dentures, they also last much longer and provide a bigger return on your investment. Additionally, if missing or damaged teeth are leading to further oral or general health problems, a dental implant procedure may be partially covered by dental insurance.
Spirit Dental offers patients dental plans that cover routine cleanings and exams, and that can help to reduce out-of-pocket costs for procedures like dental implants. Find your dental plan today!