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Dental Implants

Dr. Cathy Santone and Dr. Megan Dietz offer a range of restorative dentistry procedures designed to help our patients achieve the aesthetic appearance they desire. The first step in obtaining your dream smile is addressing the foundation and supporting structures of your teeth. Whether you are in need of a single missing tooth replacement or a more extensive procedure requiring several dental implants, Dr. Santone and Dr. Dietz possess the extensive training, knowledge, and experience to restore your smile and confidence.

“Cathy Santone was very professional and kind throughout my procedure. She is a very caring person and continually made sure I was very comfortable.”

Missing Tooth Replacement

Missing or severely damaged teeth can make eating, drinking, and daily function very difficult. They may also be a source of embarrassment at work or in public, causing individuals to hide their smiles or cover their teeth. Consequently, absent spaces between teeth can affect a patient’s emotional well-being as much as their oral health. Other repercussions of missing teeth may include:

Our experienced general and cosmetic dentists understand how inconvenient a missing tooth can be and provide a number of tooth-replacement options. For those seeking a long-lasting and natural-looking solution, our progressive dentistry options, such as dental implants and bridges, can help patients return to a normal lifestyle and enhance their confidence while restoring the function of their teeth.

Did You Know?
A tooth that has been knocked out starts to die within 15 minutes, but if you put it in milk or hold it in your mouth it will survive longer. See a dentist ASAP!

What are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are titanium posts that integrate into the jawbone, functioning very similarly to a natural tooth’s root. This artificial root or implant is placed by a specialized oral surgeon or periodontist. Once the artificial root fully secures to the bone, Dr. Santone or Dr. Dietz will create a custom porcelain crown or new tooth to replace the missing tooth. This crown (or new tooth) will be attached to the implant to provide an incredibly natural-looking tooth replacement. Dental implants can be used to replace a single missing tooth, multiple missing teeth, or serve as support for the replacement of all missing teeth. When compared to other procedures, a dental implant can be an excellent way to replace a single missing tooth because it does not require any of the surrounding teeth to be prepared or ground down.

Types of Dental Implants

Single Tooth Implants

Single tooth implants can be used to replace individual missing teeth. They are designed to look, feel, and function just like natural teeth, and your dentist will carefully match the color and shape so that they blend in seamlessly with the rest of your smile. The implant post itself is designed to mimic the natural root of a tooth, and it is surgically inserted into the jawbone. Once the post has fully fused with the jaw, a connecting abutment tops the implant post, allowing a custom crown restoration to be secured in place. The crown replicates the visible body of the missing tooth, effectively filling the gap(s) in your smile and providing both functional and aesthetic improvement.

Multiple Teeth Implants

In cases where a patient is missing three or more consecutive teeth, an implant-supported restoration, such as a bridge or partial denture, may be an ideal alternative to single-tooth implants. Depending on how many teeth need to be replaced and where they are located in the mouth, anywhere between two and six implants can be used to anchor a custom dental prosthesis in place. The implants will be strategically placed utilizing advanced digital imaging technology for optimal security and durability. The restoration itself will be customized in order to provide the most comfortable, functional, and natural-looking fit possible.

Implant Dentures

In cases where a patient is missing all or most of the teeth on one or both dental arches, an implant-supported denture can provide a secure, functional, and aesthetically pleasing restorative option. Whereas traditional removable dentures are often associated with messy adhesives, slippage along the gumline, and dietary restrictions, implant dentures are held securely in place using dental implants, enhancing comfort, function, and convenience.

Your dentist will use advanced imaging technology to plan out the precise placement of the necessary number of implants—typically between four and six per arch. This information will then be used during the implant placement procedure for optimal efficiency and precision. Once your implants have successfully integrated with your jawbone, a custom denture prosthesis will be securely attached to the posts. The end result is typically a secure, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing full-arch restoration that can protect your long-term oral health and help uphold the integrity of your jaw and facial structures.

What are the Benefits of Dental Implants?

Dental implants can offer an array of benefits for your oral health and the appearance of your smile. Perhaps the most convenient aspect of dental implantation is that each implant is affixed to your jawbone and designed to function as a natural part of your mouth. As a result, they require similar maintenance to what is recommended for your natural teeth. In general, dental implants can provide the following:

Who is a Candidate for Dental Implants?

In order for the implantation process to be successful, ideal candidates for the procedure should have enough jawbone density to support the implant. Because the amount of bone loss experienced usually increases the longer a tooth has been missing, individuals who lack the necessary bone structure for dental implants may be a better candidate for an alternative restorative treatment, such as dental bridges.


Are There Any Alternatives to Dental Implants?

Dental bridges are a long-lasting restorative solution to missing teeth, and they can offer an effective alternative to dental implants. We strive to help every patient obtain a stunning smile that can both improve function and boost their self-esteem. Our doctors and highly skilled dental team—including our laboratory technician—specialize in natural-looking bridges to replace missing teeth, often improving the appearance of adjacent teeth in the process. Dental bridges allow Dr. Santone and Dr. Dietz to fill spaces between teeth with natural-looking, custom-sculpted replacements that can correct speaking and chewing issues, as well as decrease strain when biting down.

What is the Dental Implant Procedure Like?

First, an evaluation of your teeth and mouth during a consultation will help determine whether you have the necessary bone density for the implant to properly fuse with your jawbone. This involves a consultation with an oral surgeon or periodontist who will take a 3D image of your mouth. After your candidacy for dental implants is confirmed, treatment will involve placing a thin post beneath the gum of your missing tooth. We understand that some patients may experience dental anxiety during this process and our dentists can provide advanced sedation dentistry options to help you relax if desired. Once the post has successfully fused to your mouth (a process that can take a few months), a custom-designed porcelain dental crown will be attached to the implant for a natural and comfortable fit. The crown will then be color-shaded to match the hue of your enamel and you should have a fully functioning restoration that blends with your natural teeth.

How Long Do Dental Implants Last?

Dental implants can serve as an effective tooth replacement for years — even decades. These restorations behave much like natural teeth and are similarly affected by decay and enamel damage. Therefore, implants can be expected to last as long as your natural teeth and, with proper oral hygiene, they are capable of providing results that endure well into the future.

How Do I Care For My Dental Implants?

Aside from daily brushing and flossing habits, no additional maintenance is required to keep dental implants in good condition. However, if grinding and clenching the teeth during sleep is an issue, you may consider wearing a night guard to protect your restorations from unnecessary wear and tear.

How Much Do Dental Implants Cost?

The cost of dental implants generally varies from patient to patient depending on the nature of each person’s unique needs. Factors that can affect the price of treatment include:

Rest assured that a member of our team will provide you with an accurate quote of your expenses after you are evaluated during a consultation. If you are interested in paying for your treatment incrementally over a period of time, our practice works with CareCredit® to make the cost of dental implants more manageable. This dental financing company offers qualified applicants a variety of payment plans with low monthly installments — many of which include low- to no-interest rates. If you have any questions about your payment options, please reach out to our practice today.

Choosing the Right Implant Dentist

As an advanced technique designed to provide a long-lasting tooth replacement, implant dentistry often requires coordination from multiple dental specialists to achieve an effective result. To increase the likelihood of restoring a full, healthy smile as well as proper biting function, it is essential to select an experienced team of dentists to conduct your dental implant procedure.

While you are in the process of searching for a well-qualified implant dentist to achieve your treatment goals, a few simple tips can help you narrow down your options:

If you have questions about the dental implant procedure or the other restorative dentistry options we offer, please contact our practice today to speak to a member of our team or to schedule a consultation.

Additional Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Implants

Can I get a mouth full of dental implants?

In some cases, it is possible to replace each individual tooth with a dental implant. That said, many patients lack the required jawbone density to adequately anchor that many single-tooth implants. In cases where a patient is missing all or most of the teeth on a dental arch, our dentists generally recommend an implant denture as an alternative. An implant-supported denture can provide a secure, durable full-arch replacement option using only a few dental implants—typically between four and six—to anchor the restoration. For patients who are missing only a few teeth on a given arch, your dentist may suggest an implant-supported bridge or partial denture as an alternative to single-tooth implants.

Does insurance cover dental implants?

Whether or not dental implants are covered by insurance will depend on your individual coverage plan. Some plans may provide either full or partial coverage for dental implants, while others may consider it an elective procedure. We encourage patients to check with their insurance provider regarding whether dental implants are eligible for coverage under their plan. Encinitas Cosmetic Dentistry is also pleased to accept financing through CareCredit®, a trusted third-party healthcare lending service, which can enable qualified candidates to better manage their out-of-pocket costs. If you have any further questions about either insurance or our dental financing options, our friendly and knowledgeable staff will be happy to provide personalized assistance either over the phone or in-person.

What is the success rate of dental implants?

The success rate of dental implants is very high in most cases, and with proper care, your implants can last for decades. One of the keys to maximizing your chances of implant success is having your treatment performed by an experienced and qualified dental professional. The highly skilled dental team here at Encinitas Cosmetic Dentistry uses the most advanced progressive dentistry tools available to plan and place implants for optimal results. Another important aspect of implant success involves carefully adhering to your dentist’s aftercare instructions. Maintaining good oral hygiene, avoiding tobacco usage (especially during the healing phase), and scheduling routine dental cleanings can also help protect both your implant(s) and your overall health.

How do dental implants fail?

Having a dental implant fail is relatively uncommon, but a variety of factors can increase the risk of failure, including: improper implant placement, poor oral health and/or hygiene, jaw and/or gum tissue degradation, facial trauma or injury, excessive tooth wear, and smoking. Many of these risk factors can be mitigated by having your implants placed by a qualified dental professional, taking good care of your oral health, and following your dentist’s aftercare instructions. You should also consult with your dentist before your procedure if you smoke, grind your teeth, or frequently participate in activities where your face or mouth might sustain trauma (for example, certain high-contact sports). Your dentist can then make personalized recommendations—such as wearing a night guard or mouth guard—that can lower your risk of implant failure.

Will I need a bone graft?

A bone graft may be recommended in cases where a patient has lost a significant amount of jawbone density, which can occur in the aftermath of tooth loss. During your consultation, your dentist can perform a comprehensive oral evaluation in order to assess whether or not you have sufficient jawbone density to support the implant(s). They can then make suggestions that are tailored to your unique goals.

For patients who have insufficient jawbone density but who do not wish to undergo a bone grafting procedure, there may be alternative solutions, such as a dental bridge or implant dentures. A traditional bridge can negate the need for surgery entirely by anchoring a restoration on two dental crowns. This solution can be ideal for those missing just one or a few consecutive teeth on an arch. Implant dentures can provide a secure, durable restoration for those who have significant tooth loss on one or both arches. Since the denture is anchored using only a few precisely placed implants, many patients are able to avoid bone grafting entirely.