What is a Dental Implant?
A dental Implant is a small titanium screw that is placed in the jaw bone to replace a missing root. The Implant is then connected to the new crown (tooth). Dental Implants can be utilised to provide replacements for single missing teeth or a full arch of teeth.
Titanium is a unique material in that new bone will grow onto the surface of the implant therefore “fusing” the implant to bone. This process is known as osseointegration and produces prosthetic teeth that are as strong if not stronger than your own natural teeth.
Alternatives to a Dental Implant
Benefits over conventional dentistry
Implant Over-denture : Implants can provide a firm, fixed anchorage point for denture teeth to connect to stopping them falling out or moving when eating and speaking, similar to your own natural teeth.
Conventional bridge : Conventional dental bridges consist of a prosthetic tooth attached to teeth on either side. The bridge fits over the teeth on either side of the gap following a preparation which involves cutting down these adjacent teeth.
You should be aware of the alternatives to implant treatment. In addition you should be aware of estimated length of time for implant treatment, costs, possible risks and an overall treatment plan should be outlined. There will be issues specific to your implant treatment which should be explained to you and understood fully by yourself before beginning treatment.
Treatment time is dependant on the complexity of the treatment plan. Prior to commencing implant treatment, it is important to ensure oral hygiene and gum health is adequate, and that all fillings, crowns, and extractions are completed. In certain scenarios, pre-implant bone augmentation or grafts may be required in order to provide sufficient bone for implant placement.
As a general rule, implants can take approximately 5 to 6 months to integrate in the upper jaw and 3 to 4 months in the lower jaw. Additionsl gum healing, impression taking and final fitting of the crown or bridge will take another month.
In certain situations, it is possible to place an implant and temporary crown at the same time as the extraction but this is only for specific cases.
Treament stages for a Dental Implant
Common questions about Dental Implants
Dental implants produce more predictable long term results than any other form of dental restoration. Dental implant treatment is often very predictable and indeed successful, and every effort is made to ensure the treatment is performed to a very high clinical and technical standard. However, similar to prosthetic implants elsewhere in the body, it is not possible to provide an absolute guarantee regarding life span.
Important factors such as the biting forces, oral hygiene, smoking and lifestyle habits, overall general health changes, regular maintenance and assessment are crucial in ensuring long term success.
The prostheses that are supported by the implants will require maintenance and regular assessment, and perhaps even adjustments due to normal wear and tear. Similar to regular crowns, fillings and bridges, regular replacement and repair may be needed. This may involve porcelain fractures, screw loosening, or other issues that are often focused around the prosthesis rather than the implant itself. 15
Very occasionally, an implant may fail to integrate. In these instances, it can be removed and following a sufficient healing period, can be replaced at no further cost.
Implant surgery is often a minor procedure and most patients would say it is less painful than an extraction. It is advisable to avoid significant social engagements for 5 days post operatively as some minor swelling and bruising can occur.
Often simple pain killers are required for a few days after the procedure. Antibiotics may also be prescribed along with stronger painkillers if needed.
In addition some patients are understandably apprehensive therefore may choose to have the 1st stage (implant placement) carried out under sedation. This can be arranged on request.
Implants may seem expensive initially, but in the long term they are more cost effective without damaging the adjacent teeth.
Implants are placed by surgeons who have undergone a long specialist post-graduate training.
It is normally necessary to construct some form of temporary teeth. These maybe temporary crowns/ bridges/ dentures. . It may be that your temporary restoration will need adjustments during the healing phase.
If there is insufficient width or height of jaw bone for implant placement, additional bone may need to be added. Bone can be taken from elsewhere on your body e.g. back of lower jaw, or special bone replacement materials derived from human cadavers, or porcine or bovine bone can often be used to build bone back up. The extent to which a graft may be needed is something that is investigated during the assessment phase. The size of that graft required will determine the amount and type of graft that will be used. X-rays can be used to indicate available bone levels. Cone Beam Computed Tomography scans (CBCT Scans) are also used and are highly accurate in highlighting bone levels as well as relevant anatomical structures that need avoiding. There is usually a period of 4-6 months delay for mature bone to form, before implants are placed.