Dental Implants 101: A Simple Guide To Restoring Teeth

Dental implant model showing how dental implants work

When you lose a tooth, it’s not just about the inability to chew or speak clearly. It can also lead to loss of support for your bite and surrounding tissue such as your lips.

If this sounds like something you’re struggling with, implants could help to restore lost function to your bite and allow you to return to eating hard or chewy foods, such as apples or nuts. Dental implants also give structure to your facial appearance while providing long lasting solutions for bone loss in the jaw.

For those who have lost their pearly whites to dental accidents, tooth decay or periodontal disease, dental implants are a time-tested solution to replace missing teeth. When proper care is taken, they can last for 10 years or more.¹

Because dental implants are a relatively expensive option compared to dentures and bridges, it is important to fully understand what they are and how they work before you embark on the treatment.

In this article, we will cover the following topics:

What is a dental implant?

Example of a dental implant in jaw bone

Example of a dental implant in jawbone

A dental implant is a replacement for a lost tooth and comprises three parts:

  • a titanium screw that replaces the root of your tooth
  • an abutment – a connector between the screw and the crown
  • a dental implant crown

Dental implants mimic natural teeth and are surgically anchored into place on top of the jawbone. They can also allow for better chewing ability, improved speech, and a higher quality of life.

As a permanent fixture in your mouth, they cannot be taken out at night, unlike dentures, which will need to be removed before bed time.

Bone grafting may be required if there is bone loss or low bone density in the jaw. Having a bone graft can help to stimulate bone growth and prepare the jaw bone for dental implants.

How are dental implants placed in the mouth?

Endosteal dental implant in jaw bone

Illustration of dental implant in jawbone

Dental implants are surgically placed beneath the gum line, at the top of your jaw bone.

Your dental surgeon will start the dental implant procedure with anesthesia to numb the surgery site before making a small incision into the gum line. A tooth socket for the implant is created by drilling into the bone. The oral surgeon then inserts titanium screws that act as anchors for holding dental crowns or bridges once the site is healed after a few months.

A tooth-shaped cap called an abutment is screwed onto the titanium screw. Once the implant is in place, your dentist will place some sutures to close the gums.

Are dental implant treatments painful?

You should not feel any pain during dental implant procedures due to the anesthesia.

During the healing process, your dentist can advise you on post-oral surgery care and how to minimise the risk of infection. You may have some discomfort or swelling that lasts about a few days up to a week after surgery. Other side effects may include bruising or minor bleeding, for which your dentist may prescribe painkillers.

Do dental implants feel natural?

Dental implants may look and feel more natural compared to other types of teeth replacement methods.

However, it is worth it to note that the roots of your natural teeth contain nerve endings which enable you to feel sensations such as temperature and pressure. And because dental implants are artificial teeth without roots that contain nerve endings, you will likely not feel the exact same sensations in the dental implant as you would with your natural teeth.

Dental implants in jaw bone showing proximity to nerves

Dental implant in the jawbone. Note the lack of nerve endings. Image by Alex Mit

How much do dental implants cost?

At NTUC Health Denticare, a single dental implant will cost from $1,700* with a general dentist, or $2,100* with a specialist, depending on the complexity of the case.

A number of factors will determine how much a dental implant costs and what you should expect from the timeline. These factors include but are not limited to:

  • number of missing teeth (single tooth replacement or multiple teeth replacement)
  • type of missing tooth that you want replaced (incisor teeth, canine teeth or molar teeth)
  • type of surgical procedure required (surgery to lift the sinus cavities, bone grafting surgery, gum surgery prior to beginning treatment)
  • Brand of implant used
  • Type of material used for the restorative crown
  • dentist’s level of experience

Refer to our article Budget-Friendly Dental Implants in Singapore for more affordable alternatives to dental implants.

*These prices are correct at the time of publishing. Please check with our clinics for the latest prices.

When is an implant done by a general dentist versus a specialist?

Whether an implant can be done by a general dentist or requires a specialist, depends on the complexity of the situation. This is determined on a case by case basis after a consultation with our NTUC Health Denticare dentists.

Tips on maintaining your teeth after getting a dental implant

Here are some tips to help you look after your implants, as well as your remaining natural teeth

  • Make time for regular visits to your local NTUC Health Denticare dentist.
  • Stick to soft foods immediately after your dental implant procedure. Avoid chewing hard or sticky foods, such as nuts and candy bars, until the dental implants have fully integrated into the bone.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene: it is important to brush your teeth twice daily if you have implants, just as you would with natural teeth. Do remember to brush along the gum line with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste to remove residual plaque and floss around the implant.

Summary

Dental implant surgery is a form of restorative dentistry which provides an excellent replacement for missing teeth while retaining your natural teeth and providing you with a beautiful smile! It can also help to improve chewing and speaking abilities and preserve jaw bone.

If you’re still on the fence about whether or not dental implants are right for your oral health, we can help. Our dentists will be happy to walk through all your treatment options and answer any questions you may have about them, including any questions on fees, subsidies and Medisave claims.

Your smile deserves nothing less than the best, and it starts by getting educated on how dental implants might benefit you. Schedule an appointment or call 6336 6222 to discuss your dental implant options with NTUC Health Denticare today.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

During the healing process, you may experience some discomfort in areas where implants have been placed. Follow a soft food diet and drink plenty of fluids for the first few days following the procedure.

The main difference between these two teeth replacement methods is that dental implants are fused to the jaw while dentures need to be removed nightly.

They also differ in longevity. With proper care and good health, dental implants can last for over 10 years or even longer, whereas removable dentures will need to be replaced every 5-8 years.

Dental implants are also more comfortable as they are structured to mimic the natural tooth by being placed directly into the jaw bone. Some people find conventional dentures uncomfortable because they may create a sensation of bulkiness or crowdedness in the mouth. This may result in the patient’s speech being affected.

Dental bridges will require preparation of adjacent teeth beside the gap to accept a dental crown. The crowns are linked to each other via a metal or zirconia framework spanning across the space, with a ceramic tooth built over it to cover the gap.

A dental implant is surgically inserted into the jawbone and does not require preparation of the neighbouring teeth which may still be in good condition.

In general, dental implants are safe for seniors who are in good health, have healthy gums and sufficient bone quality to place an implant. As always, please consult your nearest NTUC Health Denticare dentist to assess if you are suitable for dental implants.

Patients with uncontrolled diabetes require special pre and post-operative care. Our NTUC Health Denticare dentists will assess and recommend the most appropriate treatment to replace your missing teeth and devise a plan with you.

¹Titanium Alloys for Dental Implants: A Review (Source)