Dental implants are now becoming a more popular treatment to replace missing teeth, as they provide a longer-term solution, slow down bone loss and preserve nearby healthy tooth tissue.
What is a dental implant?
An implant is a titanium metal fitting that is inserted into your jawbone, acting as a substitute for a tooth root. It helps support one or more false teeth.
Implants can be used to replace:
Single Teeth - An implant can be used to replace a single missing tooth. The main advantage of an implant over a bridge is that it does not involve any cutting down of healthy natural teeth.
Multiple Missing Teeth - An implant may be used to support more than one artificial tooth eg two implants may be used to support three missing teeth
All Teeth - Fixed bridge, multiple implants are placed and bridges are attached to them.
Implant Retained Overdenture – Multiple implants are placed and a removable denture attached to them.
Dental Implants - How long do they last for?
Dental implants are very durable and cost effective long term option. Various studies have shown well over 90% of dental implants continue to be in function after 20 years.
Are implants always able to replace a missing tooth?
This will depend on the health and structure of your jawbone. You will need to have assessments and tests done to see if you have enough bone to have implants fitted. If it is not possible to insert an implant, either for health or structural reasons, a bone graft may be required first.
Are they safe? Do they hurt?
Implants have been proven to be a very safe treatment. The procedure involves a minor operation under local anaesthetic. Under these circumstances there will be no pain, although some minor discomfort may be felt for a few days after surgery.
Will my new tooth be fitted straight away?
Unfortunately not. The metal implants that are inserted into the bone need time to fuse or integrate and this will take anywhere between three and six months, depending on whether it is the upper or lower jaw. In the interim, a temporary prosthesis can be made or if you wear dentures, they can be used during the healing period.
How long will it take to complete the treatment?
From start to finish the treatment will usually take up to eight months, including the initial assessment meetings. Everyone is different so, as with most treatments, the time period may vary. Your dentist will be able to determine how long treatment will take once the initial surgery is completed.
Can you still get gum disease with dental implants?
Dental implants need to be treated like natural teeth. If they are not looked after well enough then complications might arise. Generally, cleaning implants is no more difficult than cleaning natural teeth. Once the implants are in place, they will serve you well for many years if you take care of them and keep your mouth healthy. This means taking the time for good oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) and keeping regular appointments with your dental hygienist.
What will happen if the implant doesn’t fuse with the bone?
In rare cases the implant will become loose in the bone during, or just after, the healing period. If this happens the implant can be easily removed and the bone will heal over again naturally. Once the bone has healed your dentist can try again or, if other implants successfully fused with the bone, a bridge can be made.