An implant is a bone screw; constructed from titanium and many times coated via plasma spraying, anodizing, etching, or sandblasting to increase the surface area and osseointegration potential of the implant to the jawbone, on an electron-microscopic level.
Basically stated, it is conjoined with your own bone and the strongest microscopes we have, cannot tell a separation from the implant to your bone. Summarily, it is now a part of your body.
Implants look, feel, and act most like a natural tooth. They are considered the "Gold Standard" in permanent intraoral restorations, in most cases. Implants usually last the longest of all other dental restorations; however, from placement to final cementation of the implant crown – they are also the longest to complete. Many times it may take upwards of 6-months to complete the entire process and have a fully-functional tooth. This is due to the surrounding bony environment and circumstances about why a tooth, or teeth, became missing in the first place. There are yet other times an implant can be taken to completion in weeks. Much of that variable timeline is dependent upon the individual's unique and personal circumstances. The only way to know for sure how long it will take to complete your entire implant procedure is to talk to Dr. Hoffman and/or Dr. Evans about your particular circumstances.
As far as cost is concerned, a single implant is about the same price as a 3-unit bridge.
However, insurance companies many times do not cover the costs of the implant, but will cover the costs of the bridge. As insurance companies continue to lag behind in this area, it is hopeful as time progresses, insurance companies will realize this is a money-saving issue for them to get behind fully. In the meantime, the only way to know for sure is to ask your dental insurance company, or talk to Dr. Hoffman about your interests. Many times we will do this leg-work for you, as a courtesy, and report our finding to you.
The level of discomfort with an implant is extremely low. Most patients state it was less discomfort that having a tooth extracted. This is due to the aseptic and surgical nature of the implant placement process. Every aspect of the procedure is completely controlled and measured extensively, in multiple ways, before the first drop of anesthesia is placed to begin the actual implant placement. A typical implant placement surgery lasts about 2-hours, some lasting longer. Most times patients will be given medicine to make them sedated and relaxed, in fact, often patients fall asleep during the procedure. If you opt for these medicines, please ensure you have a driver (not a taxi) from door-to-door, as you will not be allowed to drive while on these medicines.