Implants FAQs

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Why the lower cost?

Dental procedures in Central America generally cost 60% less than in the US.  Why the drastic difference in price?  Unfortunately, US costs are not based on quality of care but operating expenses. The patient is paying for high rent and utilities, expensive insurance, and the common practice of overstaffing.  The overhead in Central America is much lower, thus allowing for lower prices.

What is a dental implant, and how does it work?

A dental implant is a prosthetic replacement for a missing tooth. Natural teeth consist of the crown and the root. The crown is the visible section that is covered with white enamel. Supporting the crown is the tooth root which extends into the jawbone. The root is the part of the tooth that is effectively replaced by an implant.

There are commonly three parts to what is described as an implant - the implant device itself (which is inserted directly into the bone); the abutment - the piece that connects the implant device to the third part - the overlying crown or denture.

Today's implants are predominantly made of titanium, a metal that is bio-compatible and offers strength and durability as well as a unique property of fusing directly to bone - the process known as osseointegration. Other materials, such as zirconium, might be used to make implants in the future. But for now, these materials have not been perfected for general use.

What are the benefits of dental implants?

When teeth are missing, the surrounding bone begins to shrink. This unhealthy bone loss can make your jaw line recede.  Dental implants can help prevent deterioration of the jawbone caused by loss of teeth, so your face retains its natural shape.

As an alternative to bridgework, dental implants eliminate the need to grind down healthy teeth when replacing one or more adjacent teeth.

More comfortable: Because dental implants are securely anchored, there is no slipping or movement as there is with dentures.  This eliminates some of the key worries of dentures, including poor fit, gum irritation, and pain from exposed nerves.

More confident: With dental implants, you'll never need to cover your mouth when laughing, smiling, or speaking.  You can eat your favorite foods without pain or fear of embarrassment - and taste every bite.  You'll look better, feel better, and live more confidently.  Costa Rica Dentist Dr. Mario Garita will help make this a reality for you.

Are you a candidate for dental implants?

If you feel that dental implants could be a viable option for you, contact your dentist to schedule an oral exam. It is not acceptable to proceed with implant treatment if there are areas of untreated disease of teeth, gums or bone, as these can affect the success of your implant surgery as well as the integration and maintenance of the implant itself.

Therefore, a thorough full-mouth examination (including teeth and gums) should be performed. This allows the dentist also assess your bite (occlusion) which is important to the success of our implant restoration.

What is involved in the implant procedure?

There are two types of dental implants: the classic two stage implant protocol and the new one stage immediate loading protocol, both of which are approved by the American Dental Association (ADA)

Classic Two Stage Protocol

The dental implant process involves several steps that take place over a time period that averages from 4 to 9 months.  The typical process will include:

Initial implant placement: This procedure is performed in our office under a local anesthesia.  For those who prefer it, we can also use IV sedation.  The doctor places the small implant into your jaw.  Over the next several months, bone will attach to the surface of the implant anchoring it into position.  Depending on your particular case, an additional minor procedure creates an opening through which your artificial tooth will emerge.

Implant prosthetic attachment: During this phase, your dentist painlessly attaches a prosthetic "post" to the implant. A simple impression will be taken and over the next few days an artificial tooth will be created for a functional natural restoration.

One Stage Immediate Loading Protocol

Using the latest in implant technology the dental surgeon will place the implant into your jaw and attach the prosthetic tooth soon thereafter, thus reducing the number of visits to the dentists office and allowing you to enjoy your new teeth much sooner.

In just one visit to Costa Rica we can place the implants and fabricate the final crowns so that you can go home and enjoy them.  This protocol can be used in almost any case, from full mouth rehabilitation to replacing a single tooth obtaining a wonderful final result.

Most patients are candidates for this protocol except those that need a bone graft along with the implant, or patients with osteoporosis, bruxisim and/or intraoral infections of any kind.

Are All Implants Successful?

Despite decades of clinical and scientific research, dental implants do not have a 100% success rate. However, the success rates have improved dramatically since the introduction of dental implant surgery and the dental profession can proudly report success rates well above 90% for most implant patients. Similarly, long-term success rates are in the high 90% range and are likewise improving. When a dental implant has not successfully integrated, it may need to be removed, as it cannot easily be "converted" to osseointegrate. Dr. Garita will give you best advice about this. A replacement implant can be placed but it may require some months of healing time and possibly bone augmentation (repair by means of grafting). Likewise, if a previously placed implant has lost significant amounts of supporting bone, there are currently no treatments that can predictably restore the lost bone after it has been in function in the mouth.

Will Implants Last a Lifetime?

Every implant is placed with the expectation it will endure for the patient's life.  With today's implant technology a lifetime result is achievable.

What Dental Care Should I Provide At Home?

The dental care you provide yourself at home must be excellent. You must keep your teeth and implants clean with the aid of a toothbrush, dental floss, or other devices we will recommend to keep plaque off your teeth and implants.

Is Age A Problem?

No! Health is our primary concern.  Many people 70 and 80 years of age are a better candidate than someone years younger in poor health.  Older people are more likely to need implants because they have lost more teeth and ridge.  As long as you live, you owe it to yourself, family and friends to take the best care of yourself as you possibly can.  Incidentally, no reports in dental literature indicate dental implants have ever been the cause of cancer.

How do I care for my implants?

Oral Hygiene
Proper care of your implants is important to their continued function and good health. While they are not subject to cavities as our natural teeth are, they can develop gum inflammation, and even infection and bone loss if not properly maintained. Whereas localized inflammation and infection around your teeth is known as periodontal disease, a similar process can occur around implants and is known asperi-implantitis. Your dentist should review proper techniques for keeping your implants clean and the surrounding tissues healthy - but above all else, routine brushing and flossing is necessary. Your dentist or dental hygienist may also show you other tools that can help keep your teeth and implants clean and healthy.

Dental Check-ups
Your "new teeth" will require periodic checking by your dentist to ensure the surrounding gums and bone are maintained and healthy. This also requires periodic x-rays to evaluate the level of bone around your implants. The dental restorations attached to your implants will also require periodic checking by your dentist to verify that they are secure and functioning properly.

It is not uncommon for the screws that attach your restoration to the actual implants or abutments to loosen from time to time. This usually entails simply removing the dental restoration, cleaning it and replacing it with new or re-tightened screws. Similarly, if your dental restoration is cemented to the underlying implant, they may also loosen periodically. If this happens, your dentist will need to remove the restoration, clean it, ensure that it is fitting as designed and re-cement it to the implant. While these are minor complications, however inconvenient, they should not be ignored. Allowing the restoration to remain in place when it is not properly attached to the implant can create more significant problems.