There are many things people want to know about dental implants before they decide to get them. Here are some of the most common questions our implant dentist gets.

What are dental implants?

Dental implants are a tooth replacement option that involves a synthetic tooth root placed in your jawbone and a cosmetic dental crown placed on top. They support themselves so they don’t require any modification of neighboring teeth (like dental bridges) or clasps and hooks (like partial dentures). They allow you to eat all your favorite foods, require no special cleaning, and can last a lifetime if properly cared for.

Am I a candidate for dental implants?

The only way to know for sure that you’re a candidate for dental implants is to be evaluated by an implant dentist. However, in general, the best candidates for dental implants:

  • Have good oral health—no gum disease
  • Have adequate bone where the implant is to be placed
  • Are nonsmokers
  • Are committed to properly caring for their implants
  • Are not taking medications that can interfere with healing

Often, it is possible for people who are not the best candidates to get dental implants and be very successful with them.

What is the dental implant procedure like?

First, you may have to have your damaged or hopeless tooth removed. Next, your implant dentist places the artificial root in the jawbone. What happens next depends on the stability of the implant at this point.

For some people, it’s best to leave the implant completely covered under your gums to heal. Others may have a small protrusion allowed to show above the gums, either a healing cap or an abutment—the piece that attaches the crown to the root. Some people may get a dental crown the same day the implant is placed. It’s very difficult to predict what will be best at this point, and your implant dentist will make this decision at the time of surgery.

If you don’t have a crown on top of your implant, you will come back in a few months to see if your implant is ready to move to the next stage. If your implant is doing well and you don’t have one already, an abutment may be placed. You will then return after a couple weeks to get the dental crown placed on the implant.

What is the success rate for dental implants?

The odds of success for dental implants depends on many factors, with the three biggest being presence or absence of gum disease, smoking, and the experience of your implant dentist. Studies show that when all three of these are optimal (no gum disease, no smoking, experienced implant dentist), the success rate for dental implants is over 95%.

Can dental implants really last a lifetime?

Dental implants have been in general use now for over 30 years, and some of the earliest implants are still in place and functioning. There haven’t been enough really long-term studies to find a maximum duration for dental implant success. We can say with certainty that properly cared for, dental implants last a very long time, and there’s no reason to think that they shouldn’t be able to last indefinitely.

How do I choose an implant dentist?

Your implant dentist is one of the most important factors in the success of your procedure. Studies have shown that inexperienced implant dentists may increase your risk of dental implant failure by five times or more. So you want to find an implant dentist with extensive experience. Don’t forget to ask if a dentist has received dedicated training in dental implants.

Ask an implant dentist about their success rate, and ask to talk to previous patients who have had their implants for five years or more. Quality dentists have good long-term relationships with patients and shouldn’t have any trouble getting someone (or several people) for you to talk to.

Dr. Debra Cederbaum is an implant dentist who has been practicing in Seattle for nearly 30 years. She has received training in dental implants from the Misch Institute for implants. She is a friendly, caring, and compassionate dentist.

To learn whether she is the right implant dentist for you, please contact us today for an appointment.