What are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is an artificial substitute for the root of our natural tooth. It is anchored into place into a pre-drilled socket in your jaw bone, which then supports a crown, bridge or denture firmly in place.
Implants are titanium screws that are placed into the bone of the upper or lower jaw. They serve as man-made substitutes for the root portion of lost natural teeth, and act as an anchor for replacement teeth. Dental implants can be used to replace a single lost tooth or many missing teeth and to secure dentures.
Once the implant has been placed into the bone it takes 3-6 months for the bone to grow around the implant. Once this process is complete we can attach the new tooth or teeth. This new tooth can look just like a natural tooth. Implants can also be used to support a bridge or a denture.
Implants that are secured or stabilised to replacement teeth are more comfortable than conventional dentures because there is no slipping or movement. This eliminates some of the key worries of dentures and improves self confidence.
What can they be used for?
Implants can be used for different reasons:
- Single tooth replacement: if you have only one tooth missing in your mouth.
- Multiple tooth replacement: if you have one or more teeth missing
- Implant retained dentures: implants can be used to secure a full denture in the mouth
Benefits of Dental Implants
- They cause no damage to the other teeth or gums.
- They restore gaps in the front or back of the mouth with ‘teeth’ which look, feel and function like the real thing.
- They keep your face looking younger after tooth loss.
- They fix dentures to stop any movement, or replace them completely. This helps to eliminate most of the key concerns of denture wearing and improves self confidence.
Permanence and Reliability
Research and documented scientific studies have shown the effectiveness and long lasting results of implants. You can rely on your new teeth to look, feel and function like natural teeth for years to come.
Dental implants are right for you
Dental implants are appropriate for just about everyone. There is no concern over your age. If you are healthy then dental implants could be for you.
Certain circumstances may mean that dental implants are not suitable for you:
- Heavy Smoking – this may slow down or hinder the healing process after implants have been placed.
- Excessive alcohol intake – the gums may not heal as well.
- Periodontal gum disease – all active gum disease must be treated prior to any implant procedure to ensure the long term success of the treatment. Periodontal disease causes bone loss which could jeopardise the success of treatment.
- Immuno-compromised individual.
What is involved in the implant process?
The implant process normally involves several steps that take place over a period of time from three to nine months. Although there are various methods used according to particular circumstances.
Below is a general idea of the appointments required to complete the treatment and what will happen at each stage.
Consultation and treatment planning – A full mouth assessment , X-rays if necessary, a CT scan if necessary, impressions of your teeth to make models to see how your teeth fit and work together. A full treatment plan letter with the costs. Clinical photographs. This is usually carried out at the first 2 appointments.
Next comes the implant placement appointment – This is a relatively minor surgical procedure. It is carried out using local anaesthetic and if you are feeling anxious can be accompanied by some oral sedation.
All implants are placed under sterile conditions.
Once the implant has been inserted into the bone the surgeon will then put some stitches in to help the gum to heal together and cover the implant. These stitches are dissolvable and can take up to a week to disappear completely.
The next appointment is usually around 2 weeks after the implant surgery and the purpose of this is for the surgeon to check the area where the implants have been placed and review the healing process.
The Integration Period
After this you will usually have to wait for between 3 and 5 months for the implant and the bone to knit together. This is called the Integration period. During this time any gap that you have in your teeth will have a temporary bridge of denture to fill the space.
The Restoration Period
When you return 3- 5 months later you will begin the restorative phase which can take between 2 – 5 appointments and between 2- 8 weeks depending on the amount of appointments required.
At the first appointment of the restorative period the surgeon will expose the top of the implant. Next they will take impressions of the tooth/teeth to send to the laboratory so that they can begin the process of making your Bridge, Crown or Denture.
The amount of appointments in the restorative phase varies mainly because of the amount of teeth which need to be restored and the type of restoration you are having made. Different types of restorations need to go between the dentist and laboratory different amounts of times.
At the first appointment of the restorative period the surgeon will expose the top of the implant.
Next they will take impressions of the tooth/teeth to send to the laboratory so that they can begin the process of making your Bridge, Crown or Denture.
When making a crown or bridge to go on top of your implant/implants the final restoration will either be screw on or it will be cemented in.
Questions about Implants
Is dental implant treatment painful?
Patients are often surprised at how little discomfort they experience during and after implant procedures.
How long will I be out of action after I have had the procedure?
This does vary on the amount of implants you have and whether you opt for oral sedation. We usually recommend that you clear your diary for 48 hours after the procedure.
Will I be able to eat what I want afterwards?
Once treatment is completed, you should be able to eat a normal, healthy diet with little or no difficulty. Most patients go on to eat a normal meal the day after surgery. It is recommended that you clean the area thoroughly after eating.
How long will a dental implant take?
A range of treatments is available. Usually treatment requires a series of appointments spread over several months. Occasionally implant treatment can be undertaken and completed in a much shorter period, possibly in a day.
How long will my implant last?
Once treatment is completed, a routine of careful dental hygiene and regular dental check-ups should ensure that implants last for many years.
Am I too old for implant treatment?
There is no upper age limit for patients to undergo implant treatment, provided they continue to enjoy good general health.
For approximate prices please see our fee guide.