Missing teeth can detract from your smile and affect your oral health. Although a partial denture or a dental bridge can replace missing teeth, the healthiest, longest-lasting, and most natural-looking form of tooth replacement is dental implants.

What Are Dental Implants?

They are small fixtures that are designed like natural teeth. Each fixture has a root form, usually made of titanium, that is surgically implanted in your jawbone. A fixture of the correct width and length is chosen to replace the missing tooth. A dental crown is secured to the implant, so it looks completely natural. Usually, one implant is used to replace each missing tooth.

The Process

Before you can receive dental implants, we will determine if you are a candidate for them. Most people qualify. Your dental and medical history will be carefully reviewed. Also, x-rays and three-dimensional images will be taken. The advanced imaging will provide a clear view your teeth, jawbone, nerves, sinuses, and facial structure. Adequate jawbone density and proper implant placement are critical in ensuring your implants are successful.

Dental implant surgery usually takes a single visit. If you don t have enough jawbone density to support an implant, bone grafting will be needed first. A healing period may follow. Before the implant is placed, the affected area will be numbed. A small opening will be made in your jawbone, and the implant will be securely placed in it. You probably won t feel any pain during the procedure. If you are anxious and need help relaxing, sedation dentistry is available.

A healing period of two to six months is needed for your jawbone and the implant to fuse together. After the healing period, a lifelike porcelain crown will be secured to the implant.

How Long Do They Last?

When properly cared for, dental implants can last a lifetime. Although the dental crowns may wear over time and need to be replaced, quality implant fixtures will last.

How to Care for Dental Implants

Before your dental implant surgery and during the healing process, you will be advised not to smoke. Smoking interferes with the healing process. You will be given additional instructions for after care.

Maintain good oral hygiene by caring for your dental implants just as you would your natural teeth. Floss around the implants and brush them to keep them clean and to help prevent gum disease. Special instruments are needed to thoroughly clean dental implants, so keep your regularly scheduled appointments for dental cleanings and exams.


  • When a tooth is lost, jawbone shrinkage occurs. An implant stimulates your jawbone like a tooth root and helps prevent further shrinkage.
  • When all of your teeth are missing, your jawbone shrinks and your face begins to sag. Implants help prevent sagging.
  • Implants fuse to your jawbone. They will look and feel lifelike, and function like your natural teeth.
  • They can be used to stabilize dentures. You won t have to worry about your dentures slipping around or falling out.
  • Unlike a dental bridge, no work is required on the natural tooth on either side of the missing one.
  • They are comfortable, and you can eat and smile with confidence.
  • When properly cared for, they can last a lifetime.


  • Depending on the technique used, there is a healing period of a few months before your permanent crown is attached to the dental implant. A temporary crown will be used while you wait.
  • Although a dental implant is the healthiest way to replace a missing tooth, it s also the most expensive. The cost is per implant.

Will Insurance Pay for Dental Implants?

Insurance benefits vary. Most insurance plans provide limited benefits, if any, unless an accident caused your tooth loss. We will check with your dental insurance provider to find out if any benefits are provided.

Quality Dental Implants

The cost of dental implants is related to their effectiveness and the fact that they can last a lifetime. When you receive quality implants, you won t need to replace them periodically, as you would a partial denture or a dental bridge.

Although it may be tempting to look for a bargain price on implants, we strongly discourage that approach. If low-quality implants are used to save money, or if thorough diagnostic studies are skipped, sinuses, nerves, or other facial structures can be damaged. Your dental implants can fail and need to be replaced.

When you choose Donna F. Helton DDS, PC for dental implants, you can be assured you will receive the highest quality of implant planning, placement, and follow-up care. Our dentist has advanced training and experience in implantology proven expertise.

If you would like to know if you are a candidate for this treatment, or if you need more information before making a decision, call us to schedule an appointment.