Modern techniques have made it possible for almost everyone who has missing teeth to qualify for dental implant treatment. Indeed some would regard the potential of dental implants as having a third set of teeth, helping patients eliminate less favourable removable denture and bridge alternative treatments.
Over 40 years of scientific documentation and development now enables dental implants to be the most successful, most tolerated and longest lasting way of replacing a single tooth, several teeth or a full set of missing teeth. A dental implant replaces the missing tooth root to form a stable foundation, securely fixed within the jaw, for a new tooth (crown) to hold. Once finished the implant-supported tooth replacement looks, feels and functions just like a natural tooth
With dental implants, the benefits are many:-
Improved appearance – Loss of teeth results in shrinkage (resorption) of the jaw bone and this can make your face look older. When a root is missing, bone continues to shrink creating an undesirable visible defect under a denture or bridge false tooth. By placing an implant within the jaw this shrinkage process is stopped, preserving the shape and structure of the remaining bone.
Eat what you want – Implant-supported teeth act like natural teeth since they are anchored securely within your jaw. This allows you to eat your favourite foods with comfort and confidence. You can enjoy what everyone else is eating and not think twice about it.
Maintain healthy adjacent teeth – Traditional bridgework requires one or two adjacent good teeth to be ground down or adapted in order to suspend the replacement tooth. With dental implants the need to modify the neighbouring healthy teeth is eliminated, resulting in a more conservative and aesthetic replacement.
Improve self-esteem – For many people the thought of having a gap or else a denture is not acceptable to their self-esteem or lifestyle. By realising and experiencing the benefits of dental implants life can continue with renewed confidence. A dental implant provides the closest alternative to having back your natural tooth.
Exactly what is an implant?
The simplest analogy for a dental implant is that of a raw plug, screw and framed picture. A dental implant is typically a small root shaped raw plug usually made from titanium. It is gently fixed within the jaw bone to take the place of a missing tooth root. Once the bone has healed firmly to the titanium implant surface, a process known as Osseo integration, an abutment (screw) is attached tightly into the implant and it is this that then provides the base or support for the new crown (framed picture).
Let me take you through the implant process
the process of having dental implant treatment normally involves several steps which take place over a three to nine month period.
Assessment and Planning - A typical process starts off with a consultation where all possible alternative treatments are discussed and the feasibility of providing implant treatment assessed. Radiographs and models of your teeth will be required. The determining factors are a sufficient amount of quality bone, good oral hygiene and generally good health. A written treatment plan will be given to detail the conclusions we have made at assessment, the sequence of the proposed chosen treatment and the investment required.
Implant placement – A gentle surgical procedure is performed with sterile conditions under local anaesthetic. If the underlying bone is judged to be deficient, a number of options will have been discussed for bone regeneration. This may be carried out prior to, or at the same time as the implant placement.
Integration period – Although some implants can be restored as a tooth and made to function immediately or soon after placement, it is often more usual to allow a period of three or more months healing so that bone can form a strong bond to the implant. During this integration phase the previous denture or else an adhesive bridge can be worn over the implant so that you are never left without a tooth.
The restorative phase – Once integrated, the implants may need to be uncovered and brought into function with a variety of restorations, ranging from a single crown to replace one tooth to an implant retained fixed bridge for multiple missing teeth or if preferred a removable over denture clipped securely to the implants. The replacement teeth are constructed by a specialist dental laboratory working together with the practice and will carefully match the size, shape and colour of your own teeth.
Maintenance – For long-term success you’ll need to clean around the implant conscientiously and attend regular health reviews so that we can verify the health of the surrounding gum and bone as well as the integrity of the implant restoration.
Frequently asked questions
Is the treatment painful?
Patients are often surprised at how little discomfort they experience during and after implant procedures.
Will I be able to eat what I like afterwards?
Once completed, patients should be able to eat a normal, healthy diet with little or no difficulty.
How long will it all take?
Usually implant treatment requires a number of appointments over a period of several months. In some circumstances, implant work can be undertaken in a much shorter period.
How long will implants last?
The very first implants placed by Branemark in 1965 remain successful today. Statistically implants are one of the most successful dental treatments lasting for many years however it is always wisest to think that nothing will last forever. If implants fail to integrate say for example due to poor bone quality or healing potential this will be apparent early on and an alternative strategy can be planned. If wear and tear damages an implant it is usually possible to remedy by replacing the relevant component and we’ll reassess how the damage occurred to help prevent recurrence.
What costs are involved in implant treatment?
The cost can vary depending on the degree and extent of treatment needed. The full cost will be explained and confirmed in a written treatment plan.
Am I too old for implant treatment?
There is no upper limit for patients to undergo implant treatment, provided they enjoy reasonable good health.