6 Things to Know Before Getting Dental Implants

Discover the key facts about dental implants: their natural look, painless procedure, year-long process, insurance coverage, oral health care, and lifelong durability.

Nadia Lushow

7/12/202310 min read

One: Yes, they do work and look like natural teeth

When considering dental implants, one of the first questions that may arise is whether they truly work and look like natural teeth. The answer?

Absolutely! Dental implants are designed to function and appear just like your natural teeth, providing a seamless and natural-looking smile.

Unlike other dental restorations such as bridges, which require adjacent teeth to be prepared and filed down for support, implants are independent structures that are surgically placed directly into the jawbone. This provides a strong foundation for prosthetic teeth that mimics the stability of natural tooth roots.

The result is a durable and secure restoration that feels and functions like your original teeth. In terms of appearance, dental implants can be customized to match the color, shape, and size of your existing teeth.

Skilled dentists work closely with dental technicians to ensure that the implant crown or bridge seamlessly blends with your natural smile. This attention to detail allows for a virtually indistinguishable restoration, so you can confidently flash your pearly whites without any worry.

Not only do dental implants significantly enhance the aesthetics of your smile by replacing missing teeth, but they also improve oral health by preventing bone loss in the jaw area. With traditional tooth replacement options such as bridges or dentures, there is often gradual bone loss due to lack of stimulation from tooth roots.

Dental implants effectively stimulate the surrounding bone tissue through osseointegration—whereby they fuse with the jawbone—which helps maintain its density and strength. So rest assured, if you opt for dental implants over other alternatives such as bridges or dentures, you can expect them to function seamlessly like real teeth while providing an aesthetically pleasing appearance—all contributing to a confident smile that feels completely natural.

Two: No, the procedure won’t be painful

One common misconception about getting dental implants is the fear that the procedure will be excruciatingly painful. However, let me put your mind at ease – getting dental implants is not as painful as you might think.

You see, dentists use local anesthesia to numb the area where the implant will be placed, ensuring that you won't feel any discomfort during the procedure. In some cases, they may also provide sedation to help you relax and make you more comfortable throughout the process.

During the implant procedure, your dentist will make a small incision in your gum to access the jawbone. This may cause some mild pressure or tugging sensations, but it shouldn't be painful.

The dentist then creates a small hole in the jawbone and carefully inserts the titanium implant into it. Afterward, they close the gum tissue with stitches and provide instructions for aftercare.

Once the anesthesia wears off after your dental implant surgery, you may experience some soreness or mild discomfort around your jaw or gums. However, this can typically be managed well with over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen.

Any discomfort should subside within a few days as your body begins to heal. It's important to note that everyone's pain tolerance differs, so some individuals may experience more sensitivity than others during their recovery process.

However, most patients find that any potential discomfort is much less than they anticipated. So rest assured, when it comes to dental implants – no need to fear any unbearable pain!

Three: Expect to invest about a year for planning, placement and healing

When it comes to dental implants, it's important to understand that the process is not a quick fix. You can't just walk into the dentist's office and walk out with a brand-new set of teeth. Instead, you should expect to invest about a year for planning, placement, and healing.

The first step in this journey is the planning phase. Your dentist will thoroughly examine your oral health and take X-rays or CT scans to assess the condition of your jawbone and determine if you have enough bone mass to support an implant.

If your jawbone is not dense enough, you may need a bone grafting procedure where synthetic or natural bone material is added to strengthen the area. Once the planning phase is complete, the actual placement of the dental implant takes place.

This involves surgically inserting a titanium screw into your jawbone, which acts as an artificial tooth root. It may sound intimidating, but don't worry – local anesthesia will be used to numb the area, ensuring that you won't feel any pain during the procedure.

Some discomfort or swelling after the surgery is normal but can typically be managed with over-the-counter pain medication. After this stage, patience becomes key as you enter the healing phase.

It takes time for your jawbone to fuse with the dental implant through a process called osseointegration. This can take several months for complete healing and stability before proceeding with attaching the final prosthetic tooth or crown on top of the implant.

Though it may seem like a lengthy process, investing this time ensures that you get optimal results in terms of functionality and aesthetics from your dental implants. So be prepared for this longer timeline when considering dental implants as part of your oral healthcare journey.

It's worth noting that there are alternative options available such as dental bridges which offer quicker results without requiring surgery or osseointegration. However, unlike bridges that rely on adjacent teeth for support, implants are self-supporting and don't place any strain on neighboring teeth.

Additionally, while dental implants may require initial time and effort, they have a significantly longer lifespan compared to bridges. Dental implants are designed to last for many years, in some cases even a lifetime with proper care.

The process of getting dental implants is not a rushed affair. It involves careful planning, placement surgery, and a healing period that spans several months.

While this timeline may seem daunting at first, it is important to remember that dental implants offer long-term benefits in terms of functionality and durability. So, if you're seeking a permanent solution to missing teeth or want an alternative to traditional bridges, dental implants are certainly worth considering.

Four: Your dental insurance won't cover them

One important thing to consider before getting dental implants is that your dental insurance likely won't cover them. While this may come as a disappointment, it's essential to understand the reasons behind it.

Dental implants are often considered a cosmetic procedure rather than a medically necessary one. Insurance companies typically cover treatments that are deemed medically necessary for your oral health, such as fillings or extractions, but they may not view dental implants in the same light.

However, don't let the lack of coverage deter you from exploring the option of dental implants if you need them. Although they can be costly upfront, they offer many long-term benefits that may outweigh the financial aspect.

Dental implants provide a permanent solution for missing teeth and can improve your oral health and overall quality of life. So, while insurance coverage is undoubtedly something to consider, it shouldn't be the sole determining factor in whether you pursue dental implants.

It's worth noting that some insurance plans may offer partial coverage or reimbursement for certain aspects of the implant process, such as consultations or related procedures like bone grafting. It's essential to thoroughly review your policy or consult with your insurer to understand what expenses may be covered and what you'll be responsible for out-of-pocket.

Additionally, some dentists offer financing options or payment plans to help make dental implant treatments more affordable and accessible for their patients. So even without insurance coverage, there are still ways to explore this option if it's right for you.

Five: Just like natural teeth, you’ll have to protect them from gum disease

Just like natural teeth, dental implants require proper care to prevent gum disease. Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial for the long-term success of your implants.

While the implant itself is not susceptible to decay, the surrounding gum tissue can still be affected by gum disease if not properly cared for. Regular brushing and flossing are essential for keeping your dental implants clean and free from bacteria.

Use a soft-bristle toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste to gently brush around the implant and along the gumline. Pay extra attention to cleaning the area where the implant meets your gums, as this is where plaque can accumulate.

In addition to daily oral hygiene practices, it's important to schedule regular check-ups with your dentist or periodontist. They will be able to monitor the health of your implants and perform professional cleanings as needed.

These appointments will also allow them to assess the condition of your gums and provide any necessary treatments or recommendations. It's worth noting that smoking can significantly increase the risk of complications with dental implants, including an increased chance of developing gum disease.

Smoking impairs blood flow and hampers healing, making it more difficult for your gums to stay healthy around the implant site. If you're a smoker considering dental implants, it may be advisable to quit or at least reduce smoking before undergoing the procedure.

By taking proper care of your dental implants through diligent oral hygiene practices and regular professional check-ups, you can greatly reduce the risk of gum disease and ensure their longevity in your mouth. Remember that prevention is key when it comes to maintaining healthy gums around dental implants.

Just as you would with natural teeth, it's crucial to protect dental implants from gum disease through consistent oral hygiene habits such as brushing, flossing, and regular check-ups with a dentist or periodontist. Taking these steps will help ensure that your investment in dental implants continues to serve you well for many years to come.

Six: They could last you the rest of your life

Once you get dental implants, you can rest assured that they have the potential to last you a lifetime. The durability of dental implants is one of the key reasons why they are such a popular choice for tooth replacement. Unlike other restorative options, like bridges or dentures, which may need to be replaced every 10-15 years, dental implants can provide a long-term solution.

So, how long do dental implants last exactly? Well, with proper care and maintenance, there are cases where dental implants have lasted for over 25 years and counting.

This impressive lifespan is because dental implants are made from biocompatible titanium that integrates with your jawbone over time. This fusion creates a sturdy foundation for the artificial tooth or teeth placed on top of the implant.

However, it's essential to note that the longevity of your dental implant relies heavily on your commitment to oral hygiene and regular check-ups with your dentist. Just like natural teeth, plaque and tartar buildup can lead to gum disease and potentially compromise the stability of your implant.

Therefore, it's crucial to maintain diligent oral care habits such as brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and visiting your dentist regularly for professional cleanings. Opting for dental implants can provide you with a tooth replacement solution that could last you a lifetime if properly cared for.

However, it's important to consider all factors before deciding if dental implants are suitable for you. There may be reasons not to get dental implants such as medical conditions or insufficient bone density in your jaw.

In some cases where bone density is lacking or inadequate due to factors like prolonged tooth loss or periodontal disease, bone grafting might be necessary before getting dental implants. It is important to consult with an experienced dentist who can assess your specific situation and guide you towards the best treatment option—whether it be dental implants or an alternative like bridges—based on your individual needs.

Everything Else You Should Know About Dental Implants

When considering dental implants, it's important to have a clear understanding of everything else you should know about them. One significant aspect to consider is the comparison between dental implants and bridges. While bridges have been a popular choice for replacing missing teeth, dental implants offer several advantages.

Unlike bridges, which rely on adjacent teeth for support, dental implants are standalone replacements that do not put stress on neighboring teeth. Additionally, dental implants look and feel like natural teeth, providing a more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing solution.

Another crucial factor to be aware of is the longevity of dental implants. Many people wonder how long dental implants last compared to other tooth replacement options.

With proper care and maintenance, dental implants can potentially last a lifetime. This durability is due to their titanium posts that fuse with the jawbone, creating a strong foundation like natural tooth roots.

However, it's essential to maintain good oral hygiene practices such as regular brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings to ensure the longevity of your dental implants. Now let's address one common concern: does getting dental implants hurt?

The truth is that while individual pain tolerance may vary, most patients report minimal discomfort during the implant placement procedure itself due to the use of anesthesia. Afterward, some swelling and soreness are normal during the healing process but can typically be managed with over-the-counter pain medication prescribed by your dentist or oral surgeon.

It's worth mentioning that while dental implants are an excellent option for many individuals seeking tooth replacements; there may be valid reasons why someone might not choose this treatment. For instance, individuals who have certain medical conditions or take medications that affect bone healing may not be suitable candidates for dental implant surgery.

Additionally, individuals who smoke heavily or have poor oral hygiene habits might not achieve successful outcomes with dental implants as they increase the risk of implant failure. Let's briefly touch upon bone grafting for dental implants—a procedure often required when there is insufficient bone volume in the jaw to support the implant.

Bone grafting involves adding bone or bone-like materials to the jaw, promoting new bone growth over time. This procedure helps create a strong and stable foundation for dental implants, ensuring a successful outcome for patients with insufficient bone density.

While dental implants provide numerous benefits such as improved aesthetics and durability, it's crucial to consider factors like comparing them to bridges, understanding their longevity, potential discomfort during the placement process, and eligibility for the procedure. Consulting with a qualified dentist or oral surgeon is essential to assess your specific needs and determine if dental implants are the right option for you.


Dental implants can be a life-changing solution for those dealing with missing teeth. Despite the initial investment of time and money, the long-term benefits far outweigh any drawbacks.

The fact that dental implants work and look like natural teeth is truly remarkable. Imagine being able to smile confidently without worrying about others noticing that you have artificial teeth.

Contrary to popular belief, the procedure itself does not have to be painful. Dentists use local anesthesia and sedation techniques to ensure your comfort throughout the process.

While it is normal to experience some discomfort during the healing period, it is typically manageable with over-the-counter pain medications. It's important to remember that dental insurance often does not cover the cost of implants, so financial planning is essential.

However, when you consider that dental implants can potentially last a lifetime with proper care, they become a worthwhile investment in your oral health and overall well-being. Maintaining good oral hygiene habits and regular visits to your dentist are crucial for protecting your dental implants from gum disease.

Treat them as you would natural teeth – brush twice a day, floss daily, and schedule professional cleanings at least twice a year. While there may be reasons why some individuals opt not to get dental implants, those who do pursue this treatment are often rewarded with restored confidence and an improved quality of life.

With proper care and maintenance, dental implants can last for many years – providing functional and aesthetic benefits that far surpass other tooth replacement options like bridges or dentures. So, if you're considering dental implants as a solution for missing teeth, consult with your dentist to explore this transformative option further.