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Implant Dentistry in Costa Rica:
The Definite Dental Implants Guide

6-8 min read

What are my options for replacing missing teeth?   

If you have tooth loss, you will understand the many problems that can cause your oral health. Eating certain foods is almost impossible and most of the time you will avoid smiling because you don’t like how it looks.

Fortunately, there are many options available to replace missing teeth. But which one is right for you? The three most common options are dental implants, fixed bridges, and false teeth, but first, let’s talk about why you should replace your missing teeth.

Why replace missing teeth?

The teeth, in addition to helping us to chew and speak clearly, serve as reference points. When one or more of these reference points are missing, the surrounding teeth begin to move. Eventually, we end up with bite problems because our teeth no longer line up properly.

Also, the gum tissue and bone below the gaps left by the missing teeth will begin to deteriorate, causing the surrounding teeth to weaken. This weakening can eventually lead to further tooth loss. Really, every tooth counts!

The lack of teeth, can lead to a further loss of bone structure.

Options for one or more missing teeth

The best option to replace your missing teeth depends on your general health, oral health, treatment plan, and personal choice. Depending on your circumstances, the dentist will likely recommend one of these three options mentioned above: dental implants, fixed bridges, and false teeth. In this case, we will focus on dental implants.

What are dental implants?

The implants place an artificial root (screw) in the jaw bone and cover it with a porcelain crown.

Dental implants offer one of the best options for restoring functionality, comfort, and aesthetics. The surrounding teeth are not altered during implant placement, so there is no need to damage healthy teeth. Furthermore, implants are known for their excellent durability, even for decades!

Keep in mind that healthy and adequate bone tissue is required for dental implants, so they are not suitable for all cases.

Types of dental implants

Currently, two types of dental implants are used that respond to two different materials, both biocompatible, and to two different types of integration depending on these materials: titanium and zirconium.

Titanium in comparison to zirconia allows for a better integration of the bone into implant structure.

Zirconium dental implants

Zirconium is a ceramic material of extreme hardness and resistance that was already used for the manufacture of brackets, pins, or stumps to place after endodontics and the preparation of dental crowns and bridges. Its white color is very similar to that of the original dental pieces and has extraordinary durability as long as optimal hygiene conditions are maintained, to the point that many dentists offer a lifetime guarantee with these implants. In addition, zirconium prevents the formation of bacterial plaque around it, resists acid corrosion very well, and does not cause problems due to temperature changes. These implants are used in patients allergic to titanium or who want extreme aesthetics.

The technique used to make zirconium implants is bio integration: instead of being a mechanical union, as in the case of osseointegration of titanium implants, we are faced with a chemical union that occurs through a layer formed between the bone surface and the implant surface. This type of union is faster and more intense than that of osseointegration. It has been observed that the bone level around these implants has remained intact with the passage of time, which offers fewer possibilities of infections due to the accumulation of sub-gingival bacteria.

Titanium dental implants

Titanium is the most traditionally used material for dental implants: it is a metal with a color similar to steel, but lighter, easily moldable and extremely hard. Its high biocompatibility makes it difficult for the body to reject it. The technique used to place titanium implants is osseointegration: a mechanical union through which bone cells adhere to the surface of the implant, progressively consolidating its attachment to the maxilla.

Process of getting dental implants

According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS), the oral surgeon should explain to you about having a bone graft for dental implants, if the surgeon believes that the jawbone is too thin or soft to hold the implant in place in that current state. If the bone cannot support the implant, then this can cause the implant surgery to fail.

Bone graft procedure

In a bone grafting procedure, the surgeon will obtain a section of bone from another area of the patient’s body, or – as is often the case – use a bone of special material for the graft and graft it into the maxillary bone. Then the patient has to wait, probably several months while the graft creates new bone and is strong enough to make sure that the implant is stable and secure.

It is possible that only a minor graft is needed, and the procedure can be performed at the same time as implant surgery, but the oral surgeon will make the final decision. A successful bone graft allows your jawbone to be strong enough to support the dental implant.

Bone grafting allows for an ideal setting to achieve a higher success rate of implant integration.

Placing the dental implant

During surgery to place the dental implant, the oral surgeon makes a cut to open the gums and expose the bone. Holes are made in the bone where the metal pin of the dental implant will be placed. Because the pin will serve as the root of the tooth, it is implanted deep into the bone.

At this point, the patient will still have a gap where the tooth is missing. A temporary and partial type of denture can be placed for a better appearance if the patient needs it. The patient can remove this denture for cleaning and while he/she sleeps.

Waiting time until bone growth

Once the metal bolt of the implant is placed in the jaw, osseointegration begins. During this process, the jaw grows and joins the surface of the dental implant. This process, which can take several months, helps to provide a solid foundation for the new artificial tooth, just as the roots of natural teeth do.

Abutment placement

When the osseointegration is complete, the patient may need additional surgery to place the abutment, the part where the crown is eventually attached. This minor surgery is usually performed under local anesthesia in an outpatient setting.

To place the abutment:

  1. The oral surgeon opens the gum again to expose the dental implant.
  2. The abutment is fixed to the dental implant.
  3. The gum tissue is then closed around, but not over the abutment.

In some cases, the abutment is attached to the metal stud of the dental implant when the stud is implanted. This means that the patient will not need an extra surgical step. Because the abutment barely passes the gum line, it can be seen when the patient opens his/her mouth, and it will be until the dentist finishes the denture. Some people do not like that look and prefer to have the abutment placed in another procedure

After the abutment is placed, the gums must heal for two weeks before the artificial tooth can be placed.

After the procedure

Whether the patient has single-stage or multi-stage dental implant surgery, they may experience some typical discomforts related to any type of dental surgery, for example:

  • Swelling of the gums and face
  • Bruising of the skin and gums
  • Pain at the implant site
  • Light bleeding

The patient may need pain medication or antibiotics after dental implant surgery. If the swelling, discomfort, or any other problem worsens during the days after surgery, the patient needs to contact the oral surgeon.

After each stage of surgery, the patient may need to eat soft foods while the surgery site heals. The surgeon will usually use points that dissolve on their own. If the stitches do not dissolve on their own, the doctor will remove them.

Results after surgery

Most dental implants are successful. However, in some cases, the bones fail to fuse enough with the metal implant. For example, smoking can contribute to unsatisfactory implantation and complications.

Opposed to a succesful implant, a failed integration will form a fibrous layer around the implant.

If the bone does not fuse enough, the implant should be removed, the bone should be cleaned, and in about three months the procedure can be tried again.

You can contribute so that your dental procedures, and your natural teeth, last longer as follows:

Practice excellent oral hygiene. As with your natural teeth, you should keep implants, false teeth, and gum tissue clean. Specially designed brushes, such as interdental brushes that slide between teeth, can help clean corners and cracks around teeth, gums, and metal pins

Consult your dentist regularly. Schedule dental checks to ensure the health and proper functioning of your implants and follow the advice of professional cleaning

Avoid harmful habits. Do not chew on hard items, such as ice or hard candy, which can break your crowns, or your natural teeth. Avoid caffeinated or tobacco products that can stain your teeth. Seek treatment if you grind your teeth.

Alternative Dental Implants Techniques

Immediate Load Dental Implants

Immediate load dental implants are a novel implant treatment that involves placing a fixed provisional prosthesis in less than 48 hours. Suggested for all those people who suffer the loss of one, several or all of their dental pieces or have them very deteriorated.

As its name suggests, the placement of the provisional prosthesis is immediate. Once the osseointegration process is finished (from 3 to 6 months) we can load the final prosthesis. The prosthesis is provisional to guarantee correct functionality. Most cases that request this treatment are done for aesthetics.

Mini Dental Implants

Mini dental implants, as the name suggests, are presented as a smaller version compared to the conventional dental implant.

Besides being also made of titanium, these dental implants are intended to stabilize the lower prosthesis, so that the patient does not experience any discomfort with the implant.

This concept of mini dental implants presents numerous benefits, also due to its comfort and resistance, as an alternative in minor surgery.

All-on-4 Dental Implants

All-on-four dental implants are an excellent option for people who have to replace several or all teeth. If this is your case, this technique offers a very good value for money. The reason? The patient needs fewer dental implants than traditional methods.

The All-on-four technique is a revolutionary dental implant placement system that allows to place 4 dental implants and a complete dental arch on top of them, in a fixed way, without the need for bone grafts, in a single day and with a success rate higher than other procedures.

Get more information on the All-on-4 dental implants technique here.

Getting dental implants in Costa Rica

A few years ago, there was a boom in dental clinics in Costa Rica, where thousands of Americans travel each year to get quality dental treatments done at a much lower price.

Dentistry in the United States has become prohibitively expensive for some patients, with bills that can reach tens of thousands of dollars. Even among Americans with health insurance, many are not covered for certain treatments, only basic treatments. And paying on credit can mean high-interest payments.

Cost of dental implants in Costa Rica

As dental costs in the United States continue to rise in recent years, it is not surprising that more and more Americans are turning to dental tourism for more affordable dental care.

Dental tourism occurs when people choose to travel beyond their borders, in order to find dentists who offer them high-quality dentistry at an affordable cost. This is what is happening in Costa Rica with US citizens who travel for this purpose. Dentists in Costa Rica offer dental procedures between 50% and 80% less than Americans.

Particularly in the case of the dental implants treatment, the cost of a single dental implant with abutment and standard crown in the United States costs an average of $4,500, and in Costa Rica, it starts from an average of $1,300, which represents a very significant saving that grows as the number of dental implants that are needed increases.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Costa Rica’s healthcare system is one of the best in Latin America.

Our dental implants service

In our case, our facilities are comfortable, modern and equipped with the latest technology. In addition, we have received international accreditations that certify that we offer dental services of the highest quality.

Besides the AACD we also have the AAAHC accreditation which means that we participate in ongoing self-evaluation, peer review, and education to continuously improve our care and services.

All of our dentists have had many years of postgraduate training from UCLA (one of the top dental schools in the world), and Dr. Meza is one of the only two dentists in Latin America accredited by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD).

Dental Implants Estimate

In today’s dentistry, a CT Scan is mandatory to a surgical diagnostic, x rays, pictures, models, and videos are also helpful to create a treatment plan.

If you are looking for dental implants treatment, we cordially invite you to contact us to request a treatment estimate, as it is the best way for you to know how much your treatment will cost before arriving in Costa Rica. We can assure you that our doctors will help you find the best treatment option for you in terms of need and cost.

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