For restorative, reconstructive or cosmetic needs, dental implants can give the patient new teeth which look, feel and function just like the natural original. They allow the patient to regain the ability to eat, smile and speak with complete confidence and also improve the appearance.
Implants are very strong and long lasting. They provide permanent fitting and chewing strength. Compared to bridges there is no invasive re-modeling of adjacent healthy tooth structure required.
Implants also help to preserve facial contours by preventing the degenerative bone shrinkage which occurs when the teeth are missing, thus preventing that ‘hollow’ facial look. Full or partial denture wearers are particularly attracted to the restorative results which are possible as a denture can be kept very stable with permanently fitting implants as opposed to the use of denture adhesives.
Dental implants are used to replace missing teeth by serving as the replacement for the root portion of a missing natural tooth. Dental implants are small tissue-compatible surgical grade titanium fixtures. They are inserted into either the upper or lower jaw bone. These new teeth will match the colours and contours of the existing teeth.
It is an accident of nature that titanium is not rejected by the body’s immune system. Infact the bone cells actively grow onto the implant surface and lock it into place. This period of natural bonding is referred to as ‘Osseo integration’. The integrated fixtures then become like secure new tooth roots upon which crown, bridge or denture can be held in place. Implants can replace a single tooth or a whole mouthful of missing teeth.
A few medical conditions prevent the use of implants but these are rare. There is no age limit and elderly patients are often quite suitable. However implants need enough good quality bone to lock into. Certain individuals may not have enough bone in the right place or the bone may be too fragile to support an implant. This can sometimes be overcome by bone grafting procedures.
No treatment can be guaranteed to work but implants have a high success rate in the right cases. Complications are rare if the planning has been performed carefully. Implant treatment is now a well-established technique with a success rate of more than 95% over a fifteen year period. It is essential to care for implants properly once they are in your mouth or they may fail due to infection.
Smoking can inhibit proper healing of an implant. However, this does not prevent smokers from having implants successfully placed and restored. You should speak to your dentist for more specific information relating to your dental needs and the effects of smoking.
Not as much as you might expect! The fixtures are placed surgically but the operation has to be done very gently. You should expect mild discomfort equivalent to having a tooth extracted. You will need a second much smaller operation later to uncover the implant also. This rarely causes discomfort.
The treatment can be carried out by our experienced dentist on a surgery-only basis – where your dentist will be involved in the planning and building of the superstructure crown or bridgework. Alternatively we can execute the whole process, with our surgeon working in close consultation with our restorative specialist.
Once your new tooth is completed you will be given a post-operative care plan to keep the implants in good order. You will need regular gum maintenance visits. These will be the key to maintaining good implant health. The implant is not ‘alive’ but the gum and surrounding bone can get infected and lead to failure if not kept in optimum health. Also implants do not have a shock absorbing system, so if you have a heavy bite the implant can become overloaded and this must be checked regularly by the dentist.
Each individual clinical situation has to be considered carefully when considering dental implants. Not all patients are suitable for dental implant treatment. An initial clinical examination of your gums, teeth, bite and jaw bones plus x-rays will be required to evaluate suitability and the type of procedure necessary.
Following that a comprehensive cost quotation will be prepared. It should be noted that the treatment stages typically take some six to eight months.