What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a small titanium screw that is permanently fitted into the jawbone and acts as an anchor to support one or more replacement teeth. Dental implants can also be used to hold dentures firmly in place.
Why should I consider dental implants?
The loss or removal of one or more of your teeth creates a gap in your smile, affects your ability to chew food properly, and can alter your diet and nutrition. You are also at risk of gum disease and bone loss if you have one or more missing teeth.
Dental implants can help:
- Restore your smile and confidence
- Stabilise loose fitting dentures
- Improve your ability to chew and digest food
What alternative treatments might I consider?
The advance of technology means that Dental implants have become the gold standard for missing teeth and more patients than ever are now suitable for this type of treatment. Alternatives include bridges and partial or complete removable dentures
Bridgework usually involves the removal of natural tooth tissue to provide a core in order to support replacement teeth. Partial or complete dentures can become unstable leading to discomfort or speech problems; there is also the psychological effect of having to “remove your teeth” at night, which some patients find difficult. Another little known problem associated with tooth loss is a process known as "atrophy," a shrinking of the jawbone that can progress relentlessly over the years. Bone atrophy affects jaw function and can cause adverse facial cosmetic changes.
Ask your dentist to discuss these treatment options with you in order to find what approach is best for you and your circumstances.
What are some of the benefits of dental implants?
Dental implants offer a safe, predictable and effective solution to the problems arising from missing teeth.
- Replacement teeth look, feel and function like natural teeth
- Improved diet and nutrition
- Improved cosmetic appearance
- Improved quality of life
- Prevention of bone shrinkage or atrophy
What does the treatment involve?
The Dental Implant Consultation
The first step is a dental implant consultation with your dentist where the tooth implant procedure is explained, followed by a thorough dental examination. The jaw will be x-rayed to check the condition of the bone tissue and to determine the placement of the tooth implant. An impression is made of the jaw and existing teeth, forming an important platform for the tooth implant treatment.
The Implant Placement Procedure
The titanium implants are placed into the bone using a gentle surgical procedure. Following the procedure, the implants are left undisturbed typically for a period of 3 to 9 months so that the bone can grow around the implants and form a strong biological bond to them.
Your dentist may attach artificial teeth on the same day. However, usually your dentist will fit a temporary bridge or partial dentures so that there are no gaps between your teeth. If you usually wear complete dentures, they can be adjusted so that you can wear them throughout this time.
After your mouth has healed, you will have a second surgical procedure to uncover the gum over the top of the implant. Your dentist will then fit your new artificial tooth or teeth onto the implant. The teeth may be fixed in place or you may be able to remove them when you need to clean them. Your dentist will ensure that they fit properly, match your other teeth and feel comfortable.
How successful is the treatment?
Dental Implants is a safe and popular treatment for people wanting to replace missing or failing teeth. Modern implants can last in excess of 15 years and there are even patients with implant supported teeth for more than 25 years. On the rare occasion that gum and abutment integration does not occur, then the implant can be easily removed and the bone given time to heal before placement of another implant.
What sort of dental implants do we use?
We use Straumann implants. They are a leading global supplier in dental implantology providing solutions for a range of dental conditions – from the replacement of individual missing teeth all the way to full arch restorations.
Do I need to do anything special to maintain the implant?
Dental implants are firmly secured to bone and, as with natural teeth, require thorough cleaning. If you do not maintain a good dental hygiene routine then you may experience problems similar to that of gum disease with infection around the implant resulting in bone loss, loosening and potential failure.
Fortunately, cleaning around implants is no more difficult than cleaning your natural teeth and we will strongly advise you visit the dental hygienist regularly to maintain the healthy status of your implant and the rest of your teeth and gums.