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If you have multiple teeth that are either damaged or missing, a number of options are available to help fix them. Titanium dental implants are one of your options. They can provide long-lasting results and improve your overall quality of life.

There are, however, certain aspects of titanium dental implants you’ll want to consider, including limitations, cost, and possible complications. Here’s what you need to know about titanium implants.

Titanium dental implants are typically used to replace damaged or missing teeth. They tend to work best in candidates who are in overall good health. Having been used since the 1960s, titanium implants are considered the most common type of implant because of their durability and functionality.

Titanium implants may be used in the following cases:

  • significant tooth decay
  • infections
  • damage from accidents
  • as alternatives to dentures
  • periodontal disease

Unlike dental crowns alone that are placed on top of an existing tooth, dental implants are surgically fixed into your jawbone to completely replacea tooth. If you’re a candidate for implants, your dentist will place a crown on top of the titanium implant.

Titanium dental implants are designed to be permanent. However, you may need to replace them after several years.

One advantage of titanium is its ability to attach to bone and grow into the implant as it heals (a process known as osseointegration). The material is also known for its durability so that the implant can last for years — or even permanently. Titanium implant fractures are also considered rare.

While you won’t be able to see the exact implant itself once a crown is placed over it, some people don’t care for the aesthetics of titanium implants. This is where ceramic (zirconia) implants may offer an advantage.

Ceramic dental implants are white in color, and can closely match teeth crowns. They may also be a better choice than titanium implants if you have a history of recessed gums because they won’t be as noticeable.

Still, there are more drawbacks to ceramic dental implants versus titanium versions. Not only are they made with more brittle materials, but they also come at a higher cost than titanium implants.

Sometimes ceramic implants may be damaged during the manufacturing process. This may lead to an increased risk of fractures or rejection after dental implant surgery.

In general, dental implants alone aren’t known to cause any long-term side effects or complications.

Rarely, titanium may pose a risk of allergic reactions. If you have a history of allergies to metal, you may consider asking an allergist for testing before having this implant procedure. Another rare complication is titanium toxicity, which may cause bone inflammation or bone loss, or both.

As with other types of dental implants, titanium versions may not properly heal against the jawbone if you have certain underlying health conditions. These include:

It’s important to take care of your new titanium dental implants as you would with natural teeth. This includes regular flossing and brushing, along with seeing your dentist for cleanings and check-ups. Such diligence will help to ensure your new implants last longer.

If a dentist recommends dental implants, they will generally refer you to a specialist called an oral surgeon. General dentists and periodontists can also place implants. If so, they should have advanced training and experience with implant placement.

The process of implanting a titanium implant requires the following steps:

  1. First, your oral surgeon will place the actual implant into your jawbone. The implant is also sometimes called a post, and looks similar to a screw.
  2. Next, an abutment is placed on top of the implant. This helps to keep the implant securely in place, but also acts as a base for the tooth crown.
  3. Last, your oral surgeon or general dentist will place a crown on top of the abutment. The crown mimics the look of a natural tooth, but also serves as an encasement for the rest of the implant.

The above steps are typically spaced out over a few separate appointments. Once the titanium post is placed in your jawbone, your oral surgeon may recommend waiting a few months before completing the next two steps. This allows the jawbone to heal properly.

Sometimes, a general dentist may be able to finish the third step of installing the crown. Another type of specialist called a prosthodontist may also complete this step.

Pain and recovery time

Before implant surgery, your provider will use local anesthesia so you don’t feel any pain during the procedure. In cases of anxiety over dental procedures, your surgeon may recommend general anesthesia instead. Following the procedure, over-the-counter ibuprofen (Motrinor Advil) can help reduce any discomfort you may be feeling.

Your oral surgeon will provide you with instructions for caring for your new implants, including regular cleanings. Typically, most people can go back to work within 2 days of undergoing dental implant surgery.

Overall, the average cost of dental implants can range between $2,000 and $6,000 per tooth. Titanium implants cost less to manufacture, and are thus less expensive for use in dental procedures.

The exact cost of titanium dental implants is based on the number of teeth being treated, your provider, and your location. X-rays, abutments, crowns, anesthesia, and tooth extractions are all considered separate costs.

Certain dental insurance plans do cover implant procedures. Contact your provider for details concerning out-of-pocket costs.

If you are uninsured or under-insured, your provider may also offer financing and payment plans. You can also ask about possible self-pay discounts to help offset the costs of your titanium dental implant procedure. This article provides additional suggestions for free or reduced cost dental care.

Titanium implants are the most common types of dental implants because of their efficacy and durability. Once healed, the implants are typically permanent with proper care and regular cleanings.

Getting new implants requires investments of both time and money, so talk with your oral surgeon or dentist about your options, and discuss any concerns about possible side effects related to titanium.