August 9

How Do Dental Implants Work?

Did you know that about 120 million people in the United States don't have at least one tooth? Moreover, over 36 million Americans don't have a single natural tooth.

As a young person, you can maintain natural healthy teeth without many problems. However, this changes as you age.

As you age, keeping all your teeth healthy intact and healthy becomes more challenging. Many Americans lose teeth as they age, but sometimes, tooth loss results from unfortunate accidents or injury.

Nonetheless, dental implants are becoming a popular way to replace them. Unfortunately, most people wonder, "how do dental implants work?" And whether these replacement teeth can help restore their smile.

So, how do dental implants work? This blog post will explain everything you need about this popular tooth replacement option.

Dr. Meng showing how dental implants work

So, What Are Dental Implants, and How Do Dental Implants Work?

Dental implants are small posts placed in your jawbone to support a dental prosthetic. They're made of titanium, a biocompatible metal that fuses to your bone. And they provide a sturdy foundation for your new teeth.

Most of these implants are placed in your jawbone surgically. Once the implants are in place, your jawbone will heal and fuse to the metal. However, the entire process can take several months.

Only after your jawbone has healed will the next step of the process begins. The next step is placing an abutment, a small connector piece, on top of the implant.

Then, your new teeth, which can be either a dental crown, bridge, or denture, will be attached to the abutment. The entire process can seem daunting, but a dental implant surgery is pretty straightforward.

Types of Dental Implants

There are different types of dental implants, and the type you receive will be dependent on your individual needs. The two main types of dental implants are endosteal and subperiosteal.

Endosteal Implants

Endosteal implants are the most commonly used type of implant. They've placed directly into your jawbone and are ideal for people with healthy gums and enough bone density.

Subperiosteal Implants

Subperiosteal implants are placed under the gum but on top of the jawbone. These are ideal for people who have unhealthy gums or insufficient bone density.

What Are Dental Implants Made Of?

Dental implants are made of biocompatible materials. These include titanium, zirconia, and ceramic. Each one of these materials has unique characteristics. But they have one thing in common: they're all safe to use in the body.


Titanium has been the most commonly used material in dental implants since 1965. It's solid and durable, and it fuses well to the bone. Also, it does not rust in the body.

Besides that, titanium is lightweight, making it ideal for dental implants. And it's non-toxic, so you don't have to worry about it causing any harm to your body. It can feel like your natural teeth.


Zirconia is another type of biocompatible material that can be used in dental implants. It's a white ceramic material that's strong and durable. Like titanium, zirconia is also non-corrosive.

But titanium is opaque, so it can't be used in visible dental implants.


Although not common, ceramic can also be used in dental implants. It's a strong and durable material that's similar to zirconia. But like zirconia, it's opaque and can't be used in visible dental implants.

The choice of material depends on the location of the dental implants. For example, titanium is often used in implants placed in the back of the mouth because they're not visible.

But if you're getting visible dental implants, such as in the front of your mouth, zirconia or ceramic might be a better option. Part of this is because they can be matched to the color of your natural teeth.

Who Needs Dental Implants?

Dental implants are an excellent option for people who have lost teeth due to injury, decay, or gum disease. They can also be used to support dentures.

However, not everyone is a candidate for dental implants. They are for people with healthy gums and enough bone density to support the implant.

Additionally, potential recipients must be committed to good oral hygiene and overall health. Otherwise, you may be at risk for implant failure.

Usually, a dentist will do a thorough examination to ensure you're a good candidate for dental implants before moving forward with the procedure.

What Happens if Patient Doesn't Have Enough Bones to Support Dental Implants?

You may need a bone graft if you don't have enough bone to support dental implants. Usually, this is a surgical procedure where the bone is taken from another area of your body. The dentists then transplant it to your jawbone.

Once the bone has healed, you can get dental implants.

What Are All-On-Four Dental Implants?

Sometimes people suffer massive tooth loss due to disease or injury. In such circumstances, all four dental implants can be used to provide a complete set of replacement teeth.

All four dental implants are placed in the jawbone and support an entire arch of replacement teeth. This type of implant is usually used when all teeth in the upper or lower jaw need to be replaced.

How Long Can Dental Implants Last?

Dental implants are designed to last a lifetime. With proper care, they can last for many years without any problems.

However, some factors can affect how long dental implants last. For example, smoking can decrease the lifespan of dental implants. Part of this is because it reduces blood flow to the gums and slows the healing process.

If you take care of your dental implants and visit your dentist regularly, they can last for many years. Some people have had their dental implants for over 40 years.

Risks Associated with Dental Implants

Like most surgical medical procedures, there are some risks associated with dental implants. For instance, a patient could develop an infection at the implant site. Or the implant could damage the surrounding teeth.

There's also a small risk that your body will reject the implant. When this happens, you may suffer allergic reactions. However, this is rare with most implants because they are biocompatible metals. 

As with any surgery, there's always a small risk of complications such as bleeding or swelling. But it is implausible that you will suffer any serious complications. According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, dental implants have a 95% success rate.

Preparations For a Dental Implant Surgery

Like many other medical procedures, there are some things you need to do to prepare for dental implant surgery.

First, you'll need to get a comprehensive dental exam. The goal is to ensure that you don't have any underlying conditions that could complicate the surgery.

The dentist will require you to take X-rays and possibly have a CT scan to get a clear image of your jawbone. This will help the surgeon determine the best placement for the implant.

If you have cavities, your dentist must treat them before surgery. And if you have gum disease, you may need to undergo treatment to improve your oral health.

For smokers, you'll need to quit at least two weeks before and after the surgery. Smoking can delay healing and increase the risk of complications.

Furthermore, you should avoid taking blood-thinning medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen. These can increase the risk of bleeding during surgery.

It's also vital to eat healthy foods and avoid alcohol before surgery. This will help you recover more quickly.

What if Dental Implants Fail?

Dental implants have a success rate of 98%. Hence, they only fail in less than 2% of cases.

When an implant fails, it is usually due to an infection. In rare cases, the bone might not fuse properly with the implant.

If an implant fails, your dentist will remove it and place a new one.

The Advantages of Dental Implants

There are many advantages of dental implants. These include:

Confidence Boost

Losing your teeth can immensely affect your confidence and self-esteem. Wearing removable dentures can also be a source of embarrassment. Dental implants will give you back your smile and help boost your confidence.

Improved Oral Health

Dental implants do not reduce the size of other teeth, as is necessary with a dental bridge.

Since dental implants are placed in the jawbone, they also help to stimulate bone growth and prevent bone loss. And this helps to improve your oral health and keep your teeth looking great for a lifetime.

Ease of Eating

Dental implants function just like natural teeth. Therefore, you can eat all your favorite foods without worrying about your teeth slipping or falling out.

Improved Speech

Tooth loss and ill-fitting dentures can affect your speech. Dental implants can help you to speak without any problems.


Missing teeth can make brushing and flossing your teeth difficult. But since dental implants are permanent, you can brush and floss them just like your natural teeth.

Are Dental Implants Painful?

Most people imagine that dental implants are going to be extremely painful. However, this is not the case. In fact, most people report that the procedure is much less painful than expected.

The level of pain you experience will depend on your pain tolerance. However, the pain is usually manageable and can be controlled with medication.

If you're worried about the pain, talk to your dentist beforehand. They can explain the procedure in more detail and help you to understand what to expect.

Are Dental Implants Expensive?

The cost of dental implants can vary depending on the number of teeth you're getting, the type of implant, and the dentist's location.

Dental implants are generally more expensive than other tooth replacement options, such as dentures. But they're also more durable and long-lasting.

If you compare the cost of dental implants over time, they're more affordable in the long run. Moreover, you won't have to replace them as often as other tooth replacement options.

Does Health Insurance Cover Dental Implants?

Dental implants are usually not covered by health insurance. But again, basic insurance may not cover anything having to do with cosmetic procedures. So, it's always best to check with your insurance provider first.

If you don't have insurance or your insurance doesn't cover implants, there are other financing options available. Many dental offices offer in-house financing or payment plans to make implants more affordable.

Some third-party lenders offer loans for dental implants. These loans can be used to cover the cost of the procedure and any associated costs, such as the abutment or crown.

If you're considering dental implants, check with your insurance provider to see if they cover the procedure. If not, plenty of financing options are still available to make dental implants more affordable.

What Is The Recovery Time For Dental Implants?

The recovery time for dental implants varies from one patient to the other. In most cases, the implants will be completely healed, and you will be able to eat and drink as normal within six to eight weeks.

However, it is paramount to note that the healing process can take up to several months. Therefore, you must be patient and give your body the time it needs to heal properly.

How to Care For Your Dental Implants

Proper dental care is vital after a successful dental implant procedure. Caring for your dental implants is similar to caring for your natural teeth.

Brushing at least twice a day and flossing is one of the best ways to care for your implants. It's also important to see your dentist for checkups and cleanings every six months.  

Talk to your dentist if you have any questions or concerns about your dental implants. Also, book an appointment in case of any discomfort. They can offer professional advice and help you to keep your smile looking its best.

Happing patient smiling, holding model of dental implants

Restore Your Smile with Dental Implants

If your question is, "how do dental implants work?" We believe that this post has been answered for you in full.

Dental implants are a popular and effective way to replace missing teeth. They work by surgically placing a titanium post into the jawbone, then attaching a dental restoration (such as a crown, bridge, or denture) to the implant.

If you're considering dental implants for tooth replacement, our team can help you through every step of the process. We offer comprehensive dental implant services, including implant placement, for final restoration.

Contact us today to schedule your consultation!


We're a 100% patient-centered dental practice serving central and western Montana. Our priorities are patient comfort, predictable outcomes, and longer-lasting results.


Dental Implants

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If you are interested in enhancing your smile with overdentures, contact us today. We look forward to welcoming you into the Meng Dentistry family and helping you get the beautiful smile you deserve.