What are Dental Implants and does my insurance cover them?

Dental implants serve as a common intervention for tooth loss. Tooth loss can occur from a multitude of reasons, such as:

  • Lack of or poor oral hygiene
  • Plaque and tartar buildup
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth decay
  • Accidents
  • Many other reasons

A dental surgeon places an artificial tooth root into the jawbone, creating a strong, stable foundation for the replacement. It’s different from other options because it replaces the root, not only the crown.

If you don’t replace a lost tooth, there’s a domino of changes that will occur. One shift turns into another, and then another, and suddenly your whole mouth is different. Changes in your bite causes problems with how your teeth come together, and that affects life.

What Exactly are Dental Implants?

Dental implants replace the tooth roots, so think of them as artificial roots. They are made of titanium or zirconia. Once placed into your jawbone, they begin to fuse with your bone over the course of a few months. This lets it form a sturdy base capable of supporting more than one replacement tooth. These artificial teeth are crowns.

The abutment — the connector — rests on top of the implant to help support your crowns. The crowns fit well because they’re made to match your teeth and the fit of your mouth.

Dentists have successfully used modern dental implants for more than 30 years now. They’re the strongest tools available to support new teeth. Even better, they help with natural function.

When Should You Get Dental Implants?

Dental implants become necessary when you’re missing teeth but don’t want dentures. Remember, it’s important to replace any missing teeth, because the complications multiply. Doing nothing lets the effects domino into a bigger problem.

But implants have aesthetic benefits too. For example, they help support healthy bites by keeping every tooth in place, and while preventing jawbone deterioration. Not replacing a tooth can cause a jawbone to deteriorate. This is because the pressure and stimulus and chewing are responsible for the jawbone’s stability in the first place.

The visual aspect is another reason implants may be necessary. If you will feel too self-conscious about your smile, then dental implants can help. Your confidence and self-esteem are as important as eating in comfort. Not to mention, you’ll laugh and smile without pain and worry, improving your life overall.

How are Dental Implants Different From Dentures?

You know by now what dental implants are like. So how are they different from dentures?
The main downside to dentures is that you must soak them overnight and clean them nightly. Further, they need adhesive to stick to the mouth. Finally, you must anchor dentures to healthy teeth.

Once your surgeon installs dental implants, you’re done for years. They’re basically your teeth, the same as the others.

Benefits of Dental Implants

As you may have guessed by now, there are several benefits to getting dental implants.
As we mentioned, they’re great for your self-esteem since they look and act like your natural teeth. After a while, you’ll hardly remember the difference, and you’ll feel your confidence increasing.

Dental implants are convenient, durable, and they support good oral health. Beyond that, they support chewing abilities, good speech, and comfort.

Finally, you don’t need to remove your dental implants overnight. You can drink, eat, brush, floss, and sleep without removing your implants.

How are Dental Implants Placed?

Surgery for dental implants is a three-step process. A dental surgeon performs this surgery in his or her office.
First, the surgeon puts the implant right into the jawbone, positioning it like a natural root. The implant stays covered for three to six months, giving bone time to develop around it.

After the bone develops, the dentist uncovers the implant and places a healing cap. Surrounding gum tissue must then heal, and that also takes 2-3 weeks.

After the next round of healing, the implant is ready to be the new tooth’s foundation. The dentist makes the artificial tooth and attaches it to the abutment.

This final round of healing then takes five to nine months to complete, depending on your body. Your dentist will provide specific instructions on caring for your implants. Be sure to follow these down to the letter!

Does Insurance Cover Dental Implants?

To determine if your insurance is willing to pay, you must break it down into its different stages. A pre-authorization is sent to your insurance company. An individual coverage will determine their benefits for dental implant coverage.

For example, you probably need a tooth extracted before getting an implant. This is often labeled as a Basic procedure, so up to 80 percent will be paid for.

After extraction, you might need a bone graft to improve jawbone density. But this is a procedure that doesn’t usually get covered, even though it’s necessary. On the other hand, insurance might choose to cover up to 80 percent of this procedure too.

Simply put: How much insurance pays ultimately depends on your specific policy. It’s understandably confusing to try and figure out on your own how much you’ll pay out of pocket. We would recommend calling an insurance agent and asking specific questions about coverage per stage of the whole procedure.

When performed by an experienced surgeon, dental implants are one of the most predictable and safest procedures in all of dentistry. Be sure to give a call to your surgeon to ask all of your questions, or to schedule a consultation.

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