Dental Implant FAQs

In this guide:

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How much do dental implants cost?

A single dental implant (including the post, abutment and crown) can cost between $1,500 and $7,000. According to our data, the average price paid in the US is $4,000. The price depends on a number of factors including: where you live, the implant system used (as some dentists will purchase cheaper components than others) and whether any additional procedures are required such as bone grafts or sinus lifts. It can also vary according to the skill level of your dentist. Some have more experience than others and some will have invested additional time and money in the most recent implant placement techniques. To find out what other factors can affect the cost, how much multiple or full-mouth implants are or what you can expect to pay per implant in other countries, please our complete guide to the cost of implants.

Will my insurance cover dental implants?

It is unlikely that your insurance will cover the cost of surgically inserting your the implants because it is usually classified as a “cosmetic” procedure (not done for health-related reasons). However, it is worth checking as some policies are beginning to include it. It is more likely that your insurance will cover a part of the cost of the restoration (crown, bridge or dentures) that is secured onto the implant.

Are dental implants safe?

Yes, implants are safe for most people and your dentist will be able to tell if treatment is safe for you. People who smoke or are have a medical condition (diabetes, compromised immune systems, osteoporosis, etc.) may be at higher risk of failure as these conditions/habits can affect bone quality and the body’s ability to heal (tissues are slower to heal after treatment).

Are they FDA approved?

Yes, the FDA approved dental implants in 2002 and their use is carefully regulated. Dentists have been safely using them for decades and they have been rigorously tested for longevity of treatment as well as safety. A number of implant systems have received the approval of the American Dental Association.

Will it hurt?

Most patients are surprised at how little discomfort they feel after having a dental implant. It is possible to have the procedure done under local anaesthetic or you can request additional sedation if you think it will be necessary to calm you down. Once the anesthesia has worn off, discomfort should be minimal. If necessary, your dentist can prescribe pain medication but over-the-counter medication is often sufficient. If the pain is unbearable, lasts for more than a few days or you notice any of these unexpected issues, contact your dentist immediately. For more on this subject, check our guide on how painful implants are.

How long does it take?

The average treatment time is 3-6 months (this can vary) which is the time between the initial surgery and the placement of the permanent crown/restoration that the implant is given to fuse with the jawbone.

They can sometimes be placed at the same time teeth are extracted, and in certain cases can be immediately restored with temporary teeth (for aesthetic purposes) while the implant fuses with the jawbone (this is called immediate loading or same day dental implants). More complex implant cases can take longer, particularly if additional procedures such as bone grafts are required.

Will I be without my teeth?

No, you will be provided with temporary dentures or a temporary bridge to wear during treatment. These temporary teeth are fabricated prior to tooth extraction and implant placement. If you already wear dentures then they may be adapted so you can use them while the implants are healing.

Are dental implants as strong as natural teeth?

Yes, and they may even feel stronger when they are replacing decayed and damaged teeth that may have been quite fragile or painful during eating or chewing. They can restore your mouth so you can eat normally and enjoy all your favorite foods while benefiting from an aesthetically pleasing smile.

What are dental implants made of?

The implant post is made from titanium as it is an inert metal that is extremely strong and won’t react with the body. In addition, titanium integrates very well with the bone, holding the post firmly in position.

What do dental implants look like?

Please see this gallery we’ve created of before and after photos.

How are they placed?

They are inserted into the jawbone during a short surgical procedure. Your dentist will cut into the gum tissue, exposing the jawbone before carefully drilling a small hole. The implant post is then screwed into the bone, and the gum is replaced over the implant and stitched back in position so the bone and gum can heal. Once healing is complete, an abutment is attached to the implant and this supports the replacement tooth. For more detail, you can read our step-by-step description of a typical implant procedure.

How long is the recovery period?

Recovery is typically quite quick, and most people will be able to return to work the day after having a single implant placed. If you have multiple implants placed then you may need to wait a few days before returning to your normal activities, particularly if extra sedation was required.

Are there any side effects?

You should experience few, if any side effects after implant surgery other than the low levels of soreness and swelling that should be expected after any invasive surgical procedure. If a dental implant is placed incorrectly then it is possible to experience numbness or a tingling sensation, or possibly sharp pain. If the symptoms continue for more than a couple of days then you should consult your implant dentist. It is possible it could settle down, but otherwise the implant may need to be removed. This is incredibly rare as risks are minimized through careful planning prior to surgery using x-rays and a CT scan so any nerves and blood vessels are avoided.

How long until I can eat after surgery?

You will probably need to stick to a soft food diet for the first few days to a week after surgery, to avoid getting any foods stuck around the stitches. Stick to nutritious foods that are easy to eat, and gradually re-introduce harder foods into your diet as the site heals.

Do implants require special care?

It is important to keep your implants clean, but this is easy to do as they can be brushed and flossed each day. Your dentist will demonstrate how to clean them. It is vital to remember that unless kept clean, the bone and gum tissue around them can become infected with a disease very similar to gum disease, increasing the risk of implant failure. Regular check-ups and professional cleanings will help keep them free from infection.

What are the benefits of implant dentistry?

Implants help preserve the jawbone through replicating natural tooth roots. They are strong and stable and make it easy to enjoy a balanced diet and your favorite foods. They are versatile and can support single or multiple crowns, or even full dentures.

It is also possible to replace full dentures with large bridges supported by implants and which are permanently fixed in position (such as the all-on-4 technique). Teeth replaced with implants will support the cheeks and lips, restoring your natural appearance and self-confidence.

What is the success rate of dental implants?

They have a very high overall success rate of 95% (this drops to 85-90% when placed in grafted bone). That said, this statistic does rely on proper patient selection and planning. They are not suitable for everybody, and surgery has to be meticulously planned to ensure the implants are inserted accurately to give the best aesthetic and functional results while avoiding any sinus cavities, nerves and blood vessels.

How long do dental implants last?

Dental implants last for many years, and in many cases for a lifetime. For patients who are 45 years or older, dental implants will last for the rest of their lives. While the implant itself will last a long time once it integrates with the bone, the crown typically needs to be replaced every 10 to 15 years due to the normal wear and tear it experiences from chewing forces.

It is important to note that the longevity of implants relies on good professional and home dental care. Good dental hygiene (brushing, flossing and regular check-ups) can help extend the lifespan of an implant. No professional can guarantee that an implant won’t fail because there are many aspects that can affect the outcome which are out of their control, including the patient’s genetics, diseases, personal hygiene, nutrition/diet and lifestyle.

Is treatment available for failed implants?

Although implant failure is rare, it can happen. Sometimes it is possible to save a dental implant, (provided help is sought quickly enough) by building up the bone & gum tissue surrounding it, but the implant must often be removed and the area left to heal. Another dental implant can then be inserted at a later date.

Am I a candidate?

You need to be in good overall health, and must not have any untreated dental problems. If you have a contraindication that could complicate or prohibit osseointegration such as diabetes, alcohol abuse, smoking or a chronic disease, then you will probably need to consider an alternative way to replace missing teeth. Your dentist can determine whether or not you are a candidate once they have examined your medical history and physical health.

Can smokers get dental implants?

Patients are strongly advised to quit smoking long before the surgery. This is because smoking makes it harder for the gums and bone to heal, greatly increasing the risk of implant failure.

Is age a factor?

Age is generally not a factor. A young person can have dental implants once their bones have stopped growing, usually by age eighteen or twenty. Older people are usually able to have them done, provided they do not have any medical issues. Good health is more important than age, however it is important to note that the rate of recovery slows with age and the jawbone becomes weaker as teeth are lost.

Will they make dentures more comfortable?

They should, as traditional dentures rest on the gums, often rubbing uncomfortably. Many people struggle with dentures that slip or move around; particularly after they have been worn for a few years as the jawbone becomes flatter and less retentive. This cannot happen with dental implants supported dentures as the dentures will clip or snap into place and cannot move. For a more detailed comparison, see our page on dental implants vs dentures.

When are mini implants a good choice?

Mini dental implants are shorter and thinner than traditional dental implants. They can be a good choice for patients who do not have sufficient bone density or mass to support traditional dental implants, and who are unable to undergo bone grafting surgery to build up the bone in the jaw.

Can any dentist carry out the surgery?

In theory, any dentist can place a dental implant. However, it is highly advised to go to a dentist or oral surgeon who has significant experience with placing implants and who routinely carries out the procedure on a daily or weekly basis.

You are more likely to achieve long-term functionality and aesthetics with a quality surgeon as the implant will be inserted correctly using the most up-to-date techniques – something that takes extensive planning and experience as well as constant practice. To find an experienced dentist who does quality work, read this guide.

Over to You

Have a question about dental implants that isn’t answered here? Leave a comment with your question and we’ll answer it and add it to the list!

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6 thoughts on “Dental Implant FAQs

  1. I had full bottom dental implants done Jan 2015. My bottom lip and left side of chin is still numb. They say it is a parathesia and will go away and may take a year. Who do I go to for a second opinion? This is very bothersome

  2. I had two mini implants placed in order to stabilize a lower plate. Ive got chronic bruxisim, and have for years. This is what prompted me to seek help in the first place.
    Shortly after having the mini implants placed (two of them), one seemed to have an exposed nerve, or at least that is how it felt. I returned to the dentist, complaining about this problem. He proceeded to advise having a gum graft surgery….painful VERY painful . Low and behold, Im STILL suffering with my original issue..it “feels” as though there is an exposed nerve. Neither one of the implants holds the denture plate stationary, and havent. The one that feels as though theres an exposed nerve, doesnt hold the plate AT ALL! All the implants seem to be doing is creating more issues with my crowned upper teeth, causing a great deal of cost, inconvience and dissatisfaction with the entire process. At this point, Ive got another appointment with the dentist, next week. I dont know whether to ask for my money returned, close to 10k for two implants and the gum surgery…
    Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you
    Joyce Schneider

  3. I am about to have a dental implant in Puerto Vallarta. I have checked with my transplant nephrologist (kidney doctor) at the world famous Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. I have also checked with my cardiologist. They have have determined that there is absolutely no reason not to have the procedure done.

    So I ask, what is the source of your blanket statement above, which seems to imply that immunocompromised patients may not be able to get implants? Can’t just throw out an unsubstantiated statement. I know this isn’t a medical journal, but, please!

    Your statement: “Your dentist will be able to tell you if treatment is safe as some people – such as those who smoke or have compromised immune systems – may be unable to get implants. This is because their tissues are slower to heal after treatment which increases the chance of failure significantly.”

    • Hi Peter, thanks for leaving a comment and pointing out the confusing wording in that sentence. I have updated the wording to reflect that you will be able to get implants, but they may be at higher risk of failure than non-smokers/non-medically compromised patients. Here are a couple of studies that mention the increased risk:

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17323728
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3894084/

      “Clinician has to decide whether or not to commence implant treatment in high-risk situations, but once it is decided to go ahead, the patient’s informed consent is essential before starting treatment.”

      Good luck with your implant in Puerto Vallarta! Let us know how it goes.

  4. Hi, I have had a long journey of suffering, starting an implant procedure in Tijuana Mexico 2 years ago, My Dentist was Dr. arturo Gonzalez, He is a good dentist but not a surgeon, After 3 month of bone grafting he decided to post a metal mesh in my upper jaw (tooth # 7).During this procedure he hurt my nerve. The healing was long and my body rejected the mesh while I suffered awful sensation.I went to a famous surgeon in La jolla,Ca.to remove it. After it healed the surgeon posted a new grafting and implant.The implant posted in angle and invaded my nose.An expert ENT doctor suggests to remove it. My question is: Is this removal implant is more painful than a regular tooth? how long the healing can take untill posting a new grafting. In the meantime I’ll be without tooth in front of my mouth ? Do you think the dentist should redo no cost a new implant?
    In the meantime I am suffering an awful feelings in my nose, I am tired all the time, I have a liquid filling my nose, I am desperate and have no hope that it will solved.

  5. I have a temporary bottom over denture. (4 titanium implants with denture screwed on). My first surgery for implants went badly and after several infections and a lot of pain I went to an oral surgeon who said I had to immediately have the work redone. He did the surgery the next week and everything went well. Pain was gone in a couple of days and I did not need another visit for 4-5 months. My problem now is getting the work completed. This surgery was done Sept 2015, over a year ago. I have been told 15-20 times they are having problems with the lab. The first time was in March 2016 and they said they were changing labs, but they keep giving me the same excuse. I went online to Colorado Dental Assoc and was able to find this dentist was sued for malpractice and paid the fine in July 2016. I think my work is being delayed because of money problems the surgeon has. I have no complaints about his work. I just want to be finished. I paid $19,500.00 for a lower overdenture and $2000.00 for a new standard upper denture. I still wear my old uppers and temporary lower over denture provided by the first dentist. What do I do and what can I say to my current dentist to move forward in a positive way to get my work completed? I am a senior on a fixed income and in debt because of this dental work. An attorney told me it’s not worth him taking a dental case under $50k. If I want to pursue this legally it would end up costing me more money. I don’t want litigation, I just want completion. Is there an advocacy group or agency that can advise? Please help.

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