A dentist examining a patient to check if she will need an implant

 

What is an Implant?

An implant is a titanium screw that is placed directly in the area of the missing tooth inside the bone. The bone fuses around the implant and acts as the “root” for the missing tooth.  A crown is then placed on this screw to mimic the original tooth.

How are they placed?

  • Screws are placed in position in the jaw
  • An abutment is attached which allows the crown to connect to its base
  • A crown is placed on top (and in some cases, a bridge may be placed to restore several artificial teeth at once!)
  • Over time, the bone fuses with the screw to secure it in place

Three stages of an implant showing placement of the screw, abutment and crown

Why would I get one?

An implant is usually the best solution to replace a missing tooth because it acts most like the original. Implants can also be used to replace several missing teeth or an entire dentition!

Although they are one of the more expensive solutions, implants offer a more natural look and feel almost as good as the originals. Implants have a very high success rate, and while the crown may need to be replaced due to wear and tear, it is estimated that some implants can last a lifetime! They can help prevent drifting of teeth and restore your smile and bite pattern. They can also be used to secure dentures or bridges firmly in place.

Prevent Drifting – Once a tooth is lost, the tooth that will have relied on it for resistance and pressure now has nothing to help keep it in place. This may result in the tooth slowly drifting out of its original position which can cause an uncomfortable bite or discomfort when eating. An implant restores a prosthetic version of the missing tooth, effectively filling the hole and preventing the tooth above (or below) from moving out of place.

Comparison between bites with a missing tooth and with an implant

Restoring Your Smile – Missing one or several teeth, especially visible ones, can often make us feel self-conscious and may make us change the way we speak or act in front of others. Replacing a missing tooth with an implant can help restore your smile and give you back the confidence you need to smile again.

Securing Partial Dentures and Bridges – For those missing several teeth, an implant is a useful option to firmly secure a set of artificial teeth in place. The use of implants can provide a stable base for bridges and dentures; without implants, sometimes bridges and dentures can become loose, affecting speech and at other times, becoming so loose they fall out. Securing by implant makes sure nothing gets in the way of your speech and prevents any embarrassing mishaps.

 

How does this work with my Insurance?

Implants are procedures that are often provided by specialists such as oral and maxillofacial surgeons, and periodontists. As a specialist procedure, not all plans will have coverage for this – you can check by asking your insurance company if your plan covers specialist fees. Because an implant is classed as a major procedure, most if not all insurance companies will require estimates and x-rays in order to review coverage eligibility. After having an examination with the specialist, they can often submit an estimate directly to your insurance for you. Your insurance will process it and send correspondence to you as the policyholder.

A set of teeth with a question mark on the implant

Interested? The first step is to visit your dentist for an examination to see if you are eligible. If you are eligible, they will refer you to a specialist for the next step in your restoration journey!

Want to read more? Check out these frequently asked questions answered by the Canadian Dental Association.
.
.
.
Reviewed by Hammad Afif, DDS.

This blog provides general information and discussion about dental and oral health and related subjects.  The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice.